Friday Video | BMW enters the future

Right now the BMW Concept Z4 is the garnering all the attention, as a thinly disguised version of next year’s production car. Yet something else from BMW caught our eye this week.2017 BMW Concept Z4

Yes, yes, BMW have plastered the word concept all over this Z4, but the reality is we would be amazed if the new roadster looked any different to this. It’s certainly not a bad-looking thing, with elements clearly influenced by the i8, but also some subtler homages to the ‘flame surfacing’ legacy of Chris Bangle. Oh how we laughed at his designs when released, yet now they still look modern. Sorry, Chris.

2017 BMW Concept Z4

Given the tepid nature of the current Z4, anything that makes BMW’s roadster more exciting can only be a good thing. The Munich firm promises a ‘stripped back’ experience, with the aim of creating an ‘all-out’ driving experience. Hopefully the finished car delivers on these bold promises, and keeps the Energetic Orange matt paintwork and minimalist interior.

However, it’s not the most exiting thing we’ve seen from BMW recently though, as we came across this video on YouTube:

In case you’re wondering, The Drone Racing League is a fast-growing competition, using high-performance drones capable of hitting 85mph. With major investment from companies like Sky, and F1-owners Liberty Media, the Drone Racing League is getting high-profile coverage. But a demonstration inside the BMW Welt exhibition centre and museum is another level. (more…)

Opinion | Are new cars actually getting more expensive?

The new Volkswagen Golf, and the excellent revised GTI in particular, got us wondering. Just how much more expensive are new cars compared to their predecessors? 

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Having already won rave reviews from both print and online media, the Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI is already attracting attention. Yet a lot of the Internet comments seem to take umbrage at one particular fact – the cost. To clarify, the new Golf GTI has a list price starting at £27,865. As with any modern car, there is the huge temptation to run wild with the extras, but that basic amount will get you a brand-new three-door GTI, with a manual gearbox. No options, no fancy technology packages, not even metallic paint. Signature GTI colours like Tornado Red will add an extra £250, with metallics needing £570. In short, it’s rather easy to spec’ a GTI which costs over £30,000. Shock, horror, Internet outrage.

The most recent time a new Golf GTI garnered such positive attention was with the introduction of the Mk5 in early 2005. After the lacklustre Mk4 effort, the all-new GTI was an absolute revelation. Tartan seats helped, too. Yet when first introduced, the new Mk5 GTI had a starting price of just £19,995. Yes really, less than £20,000, and although the amount did rise shortly afterward, that’s the value we’ve used for comparison.

2005 Volkswagen MkV Golf GTI

A difference of £7,870 equates to a substantial sounding 39.4% increase in those twelve years between 2005 and 2017! On the other hand, horsepower has gone from 197hp in the Mk5 GTI, to 230hp in the Mk7.5, a jump of only 17%. If it had followed the same pattern as pricing, new GTI models should be rolling out the factory with 274hp. So have Volkswagen left new GTI buyers shortchanged?

Well no, actually. Inflation on the cost of goods and services in the UK has risen on average by around 2.9% each year. That 2.9% figure is based on the Bank of England’s CPI information, and there is little difference when using inflation calculators that rely on RPI data instead. We’re not going to delve into A-Level economics and debate the differences here – this is a car blog, not the Financial Times.

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Inflation between March 2005 and March 2017 totals roughly – wait for it – 39%. Meaning a new Mk7.5 Golf GTI costs within £75 of what the financial data tells us it should do in 2017. It also means we’re getting a better deal in 2017 with 230hp, and the continuous improvement in technology and specification that has taken place in the last decade. So the next time someone exclaims the new Golf GTI is far too expensive, feel free to shut them down with data.

We couldn’t just leave it at one car, however. The Golf GTI may happen to be a freak automotive bellwether, so we checked out the new Golf R, just to be sure. But this time we went even further back with our research. All the way back to 2002, and the introduction of the Mk4 R32. (more…)

Friday Photo | 2016 BMW M6 GTLM Art Car by John Baldessari

If you’ve heard of John Baldessari, then you can consider yourself more educated than ESM when it comes to art. He’s the man responsible for the latest in a long line of BMW Art Cars. So just what is this M6 GTLM all about?

John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

Actually, choosing the M6 GTLM as the basis for an artistic creation isn’t a bad place to start. We already happen to think it looks pretty damn good, and the fact it packs a 4.4-litre V8 with up to 585hp only adds to the appreciation. In actual fact, we got quite excited about it in naked carbon fibre form at the start of the year, so Mr Baldessari had a great canvas to work with.

John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

Ok, we’ll admit it. We don’t quite get what the 85-year-old conceptual artist has done here. There’s some colourful spots and stripes, the word ‘FAST’ written on one flank, and a picture of the M6 on the other. Baldessari is famed for his love of minimalism and once had a canvas, only featuring some written words, sell for over $4m dollars. So seemingly this car must be good too, right? Like we said, we’re clearly not experts at this art game.John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

According to the man himself, the red dot on the roof is there “so you can see it from above” whilst the whole concept turned out “playfully satirical” for him. The picture of the M6 GTLM, on the M6 GTLM itself, is meant to symbolise an ironic play on the multi-dimensionality of the race car as an art object. We’re not going to lie, that last sentence was also gleaned from the press release. (more…)

Ned Jasper | The Unclaimed M – Four BMWs you never knew you wanted

It’s Friday, so what better way to celebrate than with photos of BMW’s special M creations? Ned Jasper takes you through them. 

2000 BMW E46 M3 Touring Concept

BMW M cars – namely the M5 and the M3. They’re blisteringly-quick saloons, right? Yes, in the past the M3’s also been a coupe and a convertible. But what about a hatchback version, or maybe an estate car? And how do you fancy an M5 convertible?

The following list consists of some of BMW M’s lesser-known secrets, and also happens to be a list of some rather cool creations. So prepare for what is almost definitely going to be an overwhelming sense of want for at least one car on this list.

1. E46 M3 Touring2000 BMW E46 M3 Touring Concept

This car recently hit the limelight in BMW’s “30 years of M3” celebration. What a masterpiece it really is, although it might not be quite as pretty as it was in my dreams. It rides a little high, plus the wheel and colour combo don’t exactly flatter it – I’d have it in Interlagos Blue with the diamond cut 19″ alloys. It is, however, infinitely cool.

Who wouldn’t want a high-revving, 3.2-litre naturally aspirated straight-six, a manual gearbox, and enough room for all the family including the dog Considering BMW never made a saloon version of the E46 M3, the chances of an M3 Touring (that’s BMW for estate car ) were highly unlikely. Still, it’s nice to dream.

2. E36 M3 Compact1996 BMW E36 M3 Compact Concept


Short Review | 2016 BMW M240i Convertible

The M235i might be gone, but the replacement has even more performance. We took a short, topless, drive, to see if the M240i stacks up as a cut-price M2 alternative.2016 BMW M240i Convertible

Full disclosure. The M240i does not have a 4.0-litre engine. BMW nomenclature has paid little attention to engine capacity for years, so don’t be fooled. No, under the bonnet is a 3.0-litre straight-six TwinPower turbo engine, that has gained more horsepower and torque. Peak power has increased to 335hp – a rise of 14hp – whilst twist is up to 369lb-ft. That last figure is significant for two reasons: it’s the same torque as found in the E39 M5 but, more importantly, it’s the exact same amount as the M2 Coupé.

2016 BMW M240i Convertible

Performance is improved over the M235i, with 0-62mph taking just 4.7 seconds in the M240i when fitted with the optional eight-speed Sport Automatic gearbox. The six-speed manual car needs 4.9 seconds to do the same sprint, with both topping out at an electronically limited 155mph top speed. We didn’t experience the three pedal car, so can’t comment on how it compares, but the automatic ‘box is supremely efficient and effective at banging through the ratios. Eight gears are probably overkill, especially with so much torque on offer, but they contribute to respectable sounding CO2 and mpg figures.2016 BMW M240i Convertible

The automatic transmission also suits the slightly more laid-back, cruiser, image of the Convertible version. (more…)

New – BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

Saddened you couldn’t get your hands on a BMW M4 GTS? Worry no more! Now you can have one to honour a racing driver you’ve most probably never even heard of.2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

It’s a shame the DTM series doesn’t get more coverage in the UK, with close competition between 4.0-litre V8-powered coupes sounding like a rather attractive package. The fact it’s on BT Sport might not help, along with the love for our own British Touring Car Championship. Yet, despite somewhat of an unknown over here, BMW UK is going to be offering the M4 DTM Champion Edition.

2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

Built to celebrate Marco Wittman taking the 2016 DTM drivers’ title, this special edition seems to be a thinly disguised version of the M4 GTS which everyone went crazy for this year. In fact all the GTS goodness seems to be there – water-injection for the 3.0-litre straight-six turbo sees peak power of 493hp, along with torque of 443lb-ft. Yes, that’s identical to the GTS, as is the 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and 190mph top speed.

2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

In fact the roll cage inside, the big wing on the boot lid, and even the canards and splitter at the front end, are all taken direct from the GTS. Even the wheels are the same, save for being painted Orbit Grey, rather than featuring the wonderful orange details of the GTS. In short, if you can live with BMW Motorsport stickers and having to explain who Marco Wittman is, then this really is a GTS by another name.

2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition


News – Individual Paint Colours for BMW i8

Here at ESM we quite like the BMW i8, but the colour choices have been a little bit uninspiring for a car that’s meant to shout ‘FUTURE’ in huge capital letters. BMW now seems to have remedied that situation with some new options.2016 BMW i8 Individual Paint Yes, as of right now you can order your hybrid supercar in a variety of special Individual colour schemes. Ranging from the footballer-favourite Frozen (read matt) Grey or Black, through to the ESM-pleasing Solar Orange, Speed Yellow, Twilight Purple and Java Green. There’s also the option of San Marino Blue – often found upon BMW M products – and Grigio Telesto, which is more commonly used on Lamborghinis.

It’s not cheap, however, as choosing a BMW Individual colour will add £5,495 to the cost of the £104,540 i8. If only that pesky government hadn’t made the i8 ineligible for a plug-in car grant you could have effectively had your fancy paintwork for free. Also, call us cynical, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a premium German manufacturer offering outrageous colours for high-end cars. (more…)

Friday Photo – Raw and naked six

Although certain race car liveries are truly iconic, there’s one thing that can beat them all. The sight of a box-fresh racer, completely unfettered and free from sponsorship or branding. Just like this new BMW M6 GTLM.

©2015, Sam CobbSet to race in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the ferocious looking M6 GTLMs of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will make their debut in a three-day test session at Daytona Speedway this weekend. More importantly, they’ll be running in bare carbon fibre, as pictured here.

©2015, Sam Cobb

You can even see the weave!

Personally, we’d just run with them that way all season. However, as 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Bavarian Motor Works, the German firm plans to launch a special commemorative livery before the Rolex 24 hours at the end of the month. One car this year will wear the number 100 – in honour of that centenary, obviously – whilst the second car retains the number 25. Why 25, you ask? Well, that’s the number which was worn by the BMW 3.0 CSL that raced in the USA back in 1975 – the first season the marque did so.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have a pretty decent history in US sportscar racing, having taken 13 wins and 57 podium finishes with the BMW brand since 2009. They were also responsible for refurbishing EngageSportMode’s beloved E46 BMW M3 GTR last year, so they’re alright in our book.

Guest Post | Ned Jasper | BMW M2

He’s becoming so much of a regular we’re going to have to think about upgrading him to a regular contributor! Ned Jasper is back, with all the details on BMW’s new compact performance coupé.

2015 BMW M2 001If you’re in the market for a small, shockingly fast, RWD fun coupè then look no further. This is the BMW M2, and it’s been on the cards for a while. Now though, the wait is finally over, and it’s time to see if the specs live up to the long-lived hype. Although the M2 is a first for BM, – it’s about time that the M department got their hands on the F22 platform – The M2 certainly has sporting pedigree. BMW’s cocktail of short chassis, RWD layout, and straight six upfront will never grow old.

2015 BMW M2From first impressions, the M2 undoubtedly lives up to the rumours. The way it’s muscles bulge out of the wheel arches, and the way it manages to interweave the perfect amount of sharp creases and flowing curves signal that this car is something special. You’ve got to admire the designers at M, the way they manage to give the car a violent muscular stance, whilst maintaining the charming and elegant styling of the 2 Series. Not swayed yet? Let me get to the specs.

2015 BMW M2The new M2 utilises the same N55 engine block found in the old, yet utterly fabulous, 1 Series M coupè. The difference being that this time the engine steals the pistons, crankshaft bearing shells, and most of the exhaust system, from its bigger brother the S55 – found in the M3/4.

2015 BMW M2The biggest difference between the M2 and its higher-powered siblings is the turbo, or should I say turbos. Whereas the entire M range consists of a twin charged system, the M2 makes do with only a single blower. It is, at least, twin scroll though. All in all, the baby M has a 60bhp deficit to the M3, but when you consider that it weighs just 1495kg, I think you’ll find that they come out fairly even. (more…)

Friday Photo – 2001 BMW M3 GTR in Monterey Gallery

Although Monterey Auto Week is often all about the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, there’s actually a huge number of events going on at different venues throughout the area. One of the newer shows is the Legends of the Autobahn Concours D’Elegance which, this year, features one of ESM’s most favourite race cars.

2001 PTG BMW E46 M3 GTR

In fact, it’s also one of the most popular race cars on full stop, thanks to cult status and this article being cited on Italian Wikipedia as an authority on the M3 GTR. We still don’t quite know how that happened, but we’re not complaining. Regardless, BMW North America is bringing both the pictured M3 GTR 006 to Legends of the Autobahn, along with a rare road-going M3 GTR too.

2001 PTG BMW E46 M3 GTR

This particular racer has recently been through an 18 month full restoration by BMWUSA Classic and Rahal Letterman Lanigan, returning it to how it looked back in 2001 when it won the Petit Le Mans finale. The ‘Stars and Stripes’ livery was chosen as a tribute to those who had lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks less than a month before the race. With an iconic colour scheme combined with a Petit Le Mans win, the PTG team car became something of an instant legend in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).

We’ve obviously covered the story of the E46 M3 GTR before, but the short version is BMW cleverly exploited the rules in the ALMS that meant only 10 street versions needed to be built to homologate a GT racer. (more…)