M Buffet – A feast of Performance
M Buffet – A feast of Performance
As a motoring scribe performance cars are a rare treat, especially when you live in my parts of the world. So when a major car maker sends an invite to part take in the launch of a performance range of product at a race track, you know it is no small event.This was my 1st hi performance vehicle launch, Boy was I glad it was BMW. A proper initiation. That will forever be etched in my memory as something truly special,it may have its own chapter in my memoirs when I look back at my life in the motoring space.
Aldo Scribante racetrack situated in my hood, 1.9km stretch of harsh tar located on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth in close proximity to Coega IDZ. I have driven this track several times on track days and so it was familiar, the scenario was different, serious high perfomance cars were on the cards, and most were rear wheel drive barring one.The excitement was mounting long before the launch day came. Well I don’t get BMW test cars down here and I had not handled an M car in yonks. While most of these had driving aids it was not be taken lightly that all of them were force fed beasts and that adds another dimension to driving such on a racetrack.
Starters : Peri Peri chicken livers(Extra Hot)
1st up was the M140i , a mature 5 door hatch, good looking and most subtle on the day except for the burnt orange colour it wore. With the upgraded 3.0L straight 6 with twinpower turbo engine this was now punching out a steady 250kw of power and 500nm of torque from below 2000Rpms. I jumped in and strapped myself in, I had a plan to work myself up through all available cars as the day progressed, found the perfect seating position, nice and low. As we exited the pit area, my caretaker instructs me gingerly boot it. I flicked to manual mode so I can be in totally in charge, the surge from just above 1500Rpms is so forceful it induces a naughty grin on yours truly. 3rd gear got me to the 1st breaking markers, ample safety measures were taken to make sure we don’t mess up. As I take turn one I knew I could on go full throttle on certain straight parts of the track in this one. The steering feedback we precise and told me exactly what the tyres were doing, the corners were coming and coming fast as confidence grew. Brakes were aptly efficient considering the late braking stunts I was doing. The exhaust note changed from mild deep tone and then a soft whistle at full throttle down the main straight. For something entry level the M140i punches way above its class, it will put to shame a lot of medium sized sedan that consider themselves performance tools in the shed. The standard kit strikes all the right cords for me in so many ways. Next up was the M240i with Performance Parts; this was in solid white with the stickers labelled what I had mentioned afore. Am not a fan of cars with stickers but this was done in such a classy manner, this was a 2 door coupe,a sporty looking youngster, little like these fellas you see with bright ankle high sneakers at the mall. The tailpieces were finished in carbon and the minute I brought it to life, it was clear the throat had been cleared on this M240i. Take not 35s are discontinued and 40s are what BMW works with nowadays. M Perfomance Parts cars benefit from several in house upgrades, like exhausts, brakes and intake, these can potentially add more power to 250kw &500nm. The rasp from the exhaust as I exited the pits was quite audible. This was more alive and made its presence felt, my turn in on turn 1 was late so I was met by some mild understeer and a powercut thanks to electrical nannies. I noted that this needed a slightly different driving approach, the kid in me was getting excited by the thrilling note and I forgot to focus on how fast corners were coming mashing the right foot to get more sound. The M240i Performance parts is properly exciting, while it may lack the practical elements of the M140i, it has one intention, that is to excite and bring joy. It’s alive!!!!
Main Course: Peppered Fillet Steak- meduim rare
Earlier I mentioned that BMW and most other car makers don’t have test fleet down here in Port Elizabeth,so I had never driven the new M3 or M4, note I said new , while they made have been around for sometime and a facelift has recently been introduced. I had never had a private moment with both. That all changed on the 1st of June 2017. A Pheonix yellow M4 stood out like a sore thumb amongst the cars lines up on the launch day, I was the only Journo with a grin just from looking at it, others were enticed by what I would call Dessert. 317kw of power and 550nm of torque is what I was dealt next; this is the car that had replaced my beloved normally aspirated 4.0L V8, would it change my perception? The M4 has an aura of arrogance about it,that sense of I weigh less and I can move swiftly, that Mohammed Ali typa vibe, get it!!! Maybe the colour had me thinking like that, I set of, 1st things 1st, the seats are amongst the best I have been intimate with no doubt. Driving position is heavenly. It is amazingly spacious for rear passengers as well even though this its a coupe. The sound was familiar but louder as this had a few kilos over 24 000 to be exact, legs had been stretched , and it demonstrated its maturity in how responsive it was. I have to mention that all BMWs at the launch had Drive Modes as standard(Eco, comfort, Sport & Sport +), and for each outing I switched to Sports and used paddle shifters to get the best out of the cars. By now I had a sense of how the torque would filter through my right foot so I was smoother and going quicker, my lines were better and braking had improved immensely. 550nm of torque on a racetrack was just what the doctor ordered. I didn’t need to go through the rev range to accelerate out of corners, the M4 did all of that, my V8 would need so much more encouragement. The balance in handling was properly impressive,I can see why I see more of these than I saw the V8s, the formula is good. The heading for this segment was peppered fillet steak right, now we add the pepper sauce, The BMW M3 Competition Pack. A few weeks prior to this launch I attended the world renowned Hillclimb in Knysna, this very car crawled up to the start line, what happened next shocked me for life, its runs after that”scenario” improved in fact it was amongst the fastest in stock cars class. My esteemed fellow motoring journo Mr Matebese was witness to this scenario as well as he sat right next to me at the event, his exact words were “ iCP tata, iyaluma, you must be careful kulemoto” loosely translated(the car bites, be careful with it) words I didn’t take lightly coming from someone with his experience in our field. The M3 CP runs on a 3.0l straight 6 twinpower turbo thrusting out 331kw of power and a mammoth 600nm of torque. I had my wits in order for this drive, set the tone to Sports and changed manually via paddle shifters; the surge towards the 1st braking marker was like a kick from a dying horse, turn in was crisp, exit out of the corner was a bit of misnomer due to torque kicking in earlier, I had to lighten my right foot as I approached the hanger/kink too hot. This was faster and more responsive and it was evident a small part of it was trying to kill me. While my excitement to fight back ensued I remembered something vital, I had just become a dad and my ways had to change, no point to prove here, the M3 Competition Pack had won me over, I threw in the towel after 3 beautiful laps. Its BRUTAL !!!!
Side Order – Extra Salad
As an avid follower of production cars over the years I have keen interest in the works racing teams, on the day BMW had taken the liberty to organise us taxi rides in the Winfield 745i from back in the glorious racing days, piloted by an Italian named Pablo who wondered how I got a beautiful name during our drive. The ride was truly encapsulating, 5 point harness strapped me in and pure unadulterated noise filled the cabin, the element of no traction enhanced the experience so much more. The sheer power down the main straight left me giggling like high hippy. In your life make it a point to ride shotgun in championship winning car on a racetrack.
Dessert – warm ginger infused malva pudding
In 2016 BMW Motorsports Works driver Marco Wittmann won the DTM Championship at Hockemheimring, the M4 Championship Edition was built to celebrate this in his honor. One of 15 cars in the country was at the launch for us to sample(200 units of the M4 DTM CE were produced); this was a limited run productions car. By the time my turn to drive this truly special 368kw 600nm track bred road car came I had been humming “ Lion of Juda” by Lebo Sekgobela, just to calm myself down. I was hilarious to see the administrator of our rides singing along with me as I jumped into the driver’s seat, the roll cage gave me an assurance of safety. Even though the seat could not be lowered to my desired position, I didn’t feel uncomfortable, The instructor was relaxed, that was my sign that this was one trusted machine. The delivery is brutal but the stiffness of the set up gives one the certainty that all is well, race pedigree is evident. Late braking is acceptable, the DTM cleans up after you, early on the throttle and exit at higher speeds, I approached hanger/kink and lifted a little, the instructor tapped me gently and said” have faith, this is sorted machine bud” I soldiered on. 2nd lap my confidence was on a high, going through the slalom flat out, crisp turn in into turn 1, gingerly on the throttle towards turn 2, turn 3 was a breeze, I went through hanger flatout with no drama at all. As I took the sweep towards the last turn, it was clear to me, whoever owned this specific M4 DTM Championship Edition had just been granted super powers by BMW. The M4 DTM Championship Edition goes from standstill to 100km/h in 3.8s, and has incredible top speed of 305km/h. Priced at R 2.3million rands, its worth every penny, pity none are available. It’s Magnificent .
Every Xhosa man knows I “kist”, a solid built wooden cabinet,its usually used to store the best in cutlery, plates and dinner sets saved for special days by our grandmothers. The next car was like something out of iKist kaGOGO, precious. This gathering was also to welcome the new BMW M760Li Xdrive to the M family. Talk about saving the best for last. While it may look like an extravagant state president’s car or something Al Pacino would step out of in a scene from a modern day God Father. The opulence engrossed in every inch of the BMW M760Li is addictive. The leather is supple on the skin, comfort is found from any seat in the cabin. It is one of those vehicles where you just can’t be in a bad mood, it induces positive vibes right through. The M760Li is powered by a 6.6L twinpower turbo with 2 monoscroll turbos thrusting the V12 engine; this generates a mammoth 448kw of power and an earth shattering 800nm of torque. This equates to a 0-100km/h sprint in 3.7s making it the quickest BMW right now, top speed can be optionally lifted from 250km/h to 305km/h. This was the only car that could pull away from the M4 DTM on the main straight of Aldo Scribante. How it moves the tonnage is unbelievable, for such a big car. I must admit it felt so wrong seeing this car being driven around the track. The sound it makes made up for how bad I felt for it. The M760Li is equipped with M-Performance sound which can be activated at the touch of a button. I achieved 213km/h down the straight and it did that with ease. I know of 2 people who have taken delivery of this truly epic vehicle, I can only imagine how great it feels to wake up to this Glorious Gangster Mobile. The M760Li XDrive sells for R 2 699 900.
The BMW tag line which says “M the most powerful letter in the world” is true in every sense, I can testify without a shadow of doubt.
Thanks to Edward, Lesego and their team for an epic experience in my backyard.
Yours in motoring
Wezile Lorenzio Bonani