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BMW M rules out hypercar – for now

M8 to demonstrate BMW M ‘on top of industry’ as hypercar case on hold: Flasch

13 May 2019

GLOBAL head of BMW M GmbH Markus Flasch says there is “no concrete plan” to build a hypercar to rival the likes of the Mercedes-AMG One and Aston Martin Valkyrie, despite the high-performance division pushing the case for one to be built.


In an interview with Australian journalists last week, Mr Flasch told GoAuto that BMW M was better placed than ever to develop a business case for a hypercar – typically a limited-run, multi-million-dollar exercise based on a bespoke platform – as the division has proven it can successfully introduce a proliferation of new ‘pure M’ and M Performance cars based on mainstream model lines.


“As you can imagine, anyone who has petrol in his blood is dreaming of hypercars – and it is the same thing for BMW M staff,” he said.


“We have been challenging this program for the past years over and over – and we’re still doing so.


“We have a very high credibility at the moment internally because we achieve our goals. So you can imagine that we are, at the moment, stronger than ever, pushing for ‘dream only’ cars, but there is no concrete plan – nothing that I can confirm.


“But, yes, people might dream about it, we’d like to work on it, and there are ideas, but that’s it for the moment.”


Asked if a hypercar was necessary to demonstrate that BMW M was at the highest level of the industry, particularly with more than two dozen M-branded models expected to be available by the end of next year, Mr Flasch told GoAuto that he was confident the forthcoming M8 – to be revealed later this year – would serve as that “beacon”.


“For me, this is the M8,” he said.


“When you see the M8 later this year, you will know what I mean. The first journalists who have driven the car have compared it to the Porsche (911) Turbo – they even called it ‘the Porsche Turbo killer’. This car is, to me, is the ultimate performance machine that we have worked on and it’s clear that we are on top of the industry.


“Hypercar is something that is interesting but is not necessary as a symbol for being at the top of the industry.”


Mr Flasch, who was the project manager on 8 Series before being tapped to replace Frank van Meel as the head of BMW M in October last year, confirmed the M8 would be based heavily on the M5 Competition which uses a 460kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8, driving through a (controversial but ultimately widely applauded) eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system.


He said the chassis is stiffer on the M8 coupe compared with that of the M5 – particularly at the front – and that the two-door model has a 24mm-lower centre of gravity.


The driver is also positioned closer to the road, creating different ergonomics, and a different steering feel is dialled in. He added that the M8 would not employ the all-wheel steering system (dubbed ‘integral active steering’) used in the M850i.


Mr Flasch also revealed that the M8 – which will be built in coupe, convertible and Gran Coupe body styles – would be the fastest-ever M car around the northern loop of the benchmark Nurburgring circuit.


BMW last week issued a fresh round of official ‘spy’ photographs of the M8 in its final stages of development and announced that the super-sportscar would feature an advanced M Mode system that extendsto brake pedal feel.


With the 8 Series using an electrically powered brake-by-wire system, dispensing with vacuum assistance, BMW M engineers have developed two new electronic settings for the M8 – ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’ – which alters the amount of pressure on the brake pedal required to slow the car down.


This adds to the already high level of drive mode adjustment available across the powertrain, chassis and driver-assistance systems.


“As we always do at M, we found our own way to develop a little bit more character for our cars, and during the development of this brake system we found that we have the opportunity to do the same thing that we do with the steering and with the rest of the chassis, to give it a switchable character,” Mr Flasch said.


As to whether M-car drivers are telling the company that they need such as high level of adjustment, the M chief told GoAuto: “We have a very close connection to our customers.


“We meet our customers at racetracks so that the connection that we have is much closer than for the rest of BMW.


“Our customers tell us that they don’t mess around with those adjustable features every day, but most of them do it when they (buy) the new car – they adjust it to their standards for their everyday route and their weekend route, on the M settings on the steering wheel, and then they leave it.


“But all of them enjoy the possibility of ‘tuning’ their car in the first place.”

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