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BMW’s M3 is the core of the M brand, Rolf Sheibner from the division told me.
So who is its closest relative? Step forward the Porsche 997 911. Yes, really. ‘In terms of dynamic skills and character, the M3 and 997 are like relatives,’ Sheibner revealed.
Well, I’ll be.
He was straight up, though. The M division hadn’t benchmarked the M3 against other M cars, but the mighty and ever-better Porsche, the definitive everyday supercar.
‘For 30 years, M3 customers have also been drawn to Porsche. When someone considers one, they’re usually looking at the other, too.’
Which presents quite a high bar for the M division to clear. That’s why they start early. Albeit, from a solid base.
‘We let the road car division develop the standard 3 Series for two years. And, once they reach a certain level, we then start to develop the M version.’
Makes sense. So how much independence do they have here? A wry smile from Sheibner. ‘Look in our papers: we’re a maker! We’re called M GmBH…’ All that was missing here was the cheeky wink.
He knows his customers pretty well, though. I asked about the eight million different settings for the V8 M3’s suspension, engine mapping and whatever else. How on earth will customers get their heads around it?
‘They will play at the beginning,’ he said. ‘But then, after 3 weeks, they’ll probably leave it, happy that they’ve explored enough.’
Hence the importance of getting the standard setup right – and why there will always be a degree of computer reprofiling as per driving conditions here.
Even if customers can’t be bothered prodding buttons, there still needs to be some reward for the money spent…