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Profit before pose

Not on the menu: The closest BMW will get to Bugatti's Veyron supercar (above) is with a replacement for its Z8 (below, top).

BMW product boss says the world’s fastest car, and others like it, are overkill

BMW logo10 Jul 2006

By NEIL MCDONALD

BMW will not be lured into the rarefied über-sportscar league that has produced the million-dollar Bugatti Veyron and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

Speaking to Australian journalists in Austria last week, BMW board of management member and global development chief Burkhard Goschel maintained that such super-expensive sportscars were built for image rather than profit and were not a part of BMW’s future product plans.

He said the closest BMW might come to a supercar is a replacement for the two-seater Z8, but he said it would be affordable and more widely available than either the $1.6 million Bugatti – the world’s fastest production car, which uses a 1001hp (736kW) 8.0-litre quad-turbo W16 engine and can reach 100km/h in 2.5 seconds – or the circa-$1 million SLR, which has a 460kW 5.4-litre supercharged V8.

Ditto for Audi’s V10 R8 supercar, which is scheduled to start low-volume production at the end of this year.

Professor Goschel also confirmed to GoAuto that the revised X5 4WD wagon, which is expected to go on sale in Europe in October, would be bigger, offer a third row option and that direct injection and turbocharging were likely to be available in its range of four-cylinder petrol engines.

The new X5 is understood to be 160mm longer and 60mm wider than the current vehicle and follows an evolutionary styling theme. It will showcase some of BMW’s technological wizardry with radar cruise control, night vision and possibly an advanced traction control system.

 center imageLeft: BMW Z8, BMW global development chief Burkhard Goschel and Mercedes SLR McLaren.

Prof Goschel said BMW would not be seduced by the supercar world, despite European reports that Mercedes-Benz was reviving its supercar image with a replacement for the poor-selling SLR McLaren.

The Mercedes Gullwing supercar is expected to be built by AMG and feature cutting-edge technology including a twin-turbo V8 producing more than 700kW of power.

"We already have a very good sportscar which is getting successful but it has only one seat and is very expensive," Prof Goschel said, referring to the Sauber-BMW Formula One car. In his view, BMW’s existing M vehicles in the form of the M6 or M5 were more effective – and affordable – supercars, with many of the high-end, low-volume sportscars costing too much.

"The market for these cars has been over-estimated," he said. "We feel very comfortable going racing in Formula One and having those cars like the M products and the other sportscars we are building.

"We don’t at the moment see a necessity to make a so-called ‘supercar’. If we hadn’t gone into Formula One racing then we would think about those issues. With our F1 activities we don’t see the need making a so-called supercar."BMW is rumoured to be working on a replacement for its Z8 sportscar, which was not sold in right-hand drive. The Z8 was built between 1999 and 2003 but fewer than 6000 were built.

However, Prof Goschel does not see any replacement Z8 as a "so-called supercar".

"As you might remember the pricing position of the Z8 was different. It was not 500,000 Euro ($A860,000) or 250,000 Euro ($430,000) – it was practically priced," he said.

Prof Goschel also hosed down reports that BMW was working on a people-mover vehicle in the same vein as the Mercedes-Benz R-class.

"We are not making people-mover cars. It’s not our core value or core business," he said, insisting that BMW’s nearest vehicle to a people-mover was the RFK (raum funktionales konzept) tipped to be called the V-Series for "versatility".

"It has a lot of variability and space but it’s not a people-mover," he said.

Due out by 2008, the RFK is expected to be a cross between an SUV and four-door coupe, maintaining BMW’s core values of dynamics and good driver involvement.

As well as a hydrogen-powered variant at some point in the future, the V-Series is expected to offer the twin-turbo six from the 335i, a twin-turbo diesel from 535d, a new twin-turbo V8 petrol and a V8 diesel.

The newcomer is also tipped to offer an advanced version of iDrive that will download into the ignition key from home or office computers so all settings are stored for each driver of the car. This includes vehicle settings, seat position, routes, drive preparation and music.

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