First Drive | BMW M4 GTS

As you will know I was lucky enough to attend the media launch at Kyalami on Wednesday for the track-focused limited edition BMW M4 GTS and although we only had enough time to do 2 laps in the beast, here are my thoughts about the brief encounter.

Firstly let’s confirm that there are going to be 23 units in South Africa. All have already been sold and the customers were actually picked by BMW South Africa as opposed to customers asking for one. I assume this is an attempt to avoid the cars hitting the market and being sold for a huge premium. Not quite sure this will do the trick but we will have to wait and see. Since there are only 700 units worldwide, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will appreciate and become a collector’s item. Having driven it on track I sincerely hope that most of the owners actually enjoy them and more importantly track them as it is one hell of an experience behind that wheel.

The particular car we were driving had the optional Clubsport Package too which (in my opinion) should come standard with a car like this. It includes a roll bar in Acid Orange behind the front seats, a race-specification six-point harness (ours had regular seat-belt) and a fire extinguisher. The first thing you notice apart from the pretty intense aero on the car is the sound it makes. The M4 GTS exhaust has been fitted a titanium muffler, which not only allows a weight saving of 20 per cent but also provides a sound track fit for the race track.

Getting into the car you know you are in something track-orientated as the carbon fibre bucket seats are hard and there is Alcantara everywhere. Closing the door you yank on a pull loop (another weight saver) and putting your hands on the Alcantra-wrapped steering wheel, you notice the 12 o’clock marker too. It is special inside that thing.

Hitting the track I noticed immediately how much more sensitive and responsive it is to the regular M4 and also how much quicker it revs to the limiter. It actually catches you unaware as you don’t expect to be pulling the next gear so soon after take off. Heading in to the first corner I jump on the brakes and have my face pulled off. Not only did I brake too early but I did not realise that losing all that extra weight from the standard car would make such a difference in stopping power. Yes the 368 kW powerplant up front gets you off the line insanely quick (3.8 seconds to 100 km/h) but it was the stopping and cornering that surprised me the most. Taking corners is a pleasure since the orange wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber and the confidence this car gives you to go faster and faster is off the charts. You just want to go faster and brake later and it allows you to do this. Not many cars out there will allow you to leave your office head to the track for some VERY fast hot laps and then drive home but this most certainly does. Look there is no space in the back considering the roll cage has deleted the rear seats but that is not a downfall on the car, the only downfall is that it is limited and not many people in the world will be given the chance to get behind the wheel of the special Bavarian beast.

Base pricing for the new BMW M4 GTS is R2,203,900 which may seem a bit high and it probably is but wait and see what this price does in a few years time and you will be very happy with the asset you have parked in your garage.

FULL PRESS RELEASE BELOW

The BMW M4 GTS gives BMW M GmbH a new and exclusive technological showpiece which elevates the potential of the BMW M4 Coupe to another impressive new level. With its powerful, motor sport-inspired looks and high-performance technology, the BMW M4 GTS has its sights set squarely on the race track. A lap time of 7.28 minutes around the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife, the world’s most exacting race circuit, is a clear statement of this special-edition model’s exceptional abilities. At the same time, the sharpest BMW M4 of all – like its BMW M stablemates – can also hold its own on public roads. BMW M GmbH is launching the BMW M4 GTS in a special edition limited to 700 units to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the BMW M3, which has been in production since 1986. Of the 700 units, 23 have been allocated to South Africa and are already sold out. The BMW M4 GTS is highlighting the innovative flair of the BMW M engineers in developing trailblazing M technologies on the powertrain, chassis and lightweight construction front. The first high-performance special edition in the M3/M4 model range will also be available for the first time in the important North American market.

* Fuel consumption figures based on the EU test cycle, may vary depending on the tyre format specified.

 “Special-edition models like the BMW M3 GT, BMW M3 CSL, BMW M3 GTS and BMW M3 CRT have a decades-long tradition in our mid-size line-up – and that continues with the BMW M4,” says Frank van Meel, CEO of BMW M GmbH. “They sharpen the character of the BMW M brand and embody an emotionally rich and exclusive driving experience. We’ve taken a radical route with the set-up of the BMW M4 GTS to create a sports machine for the race track that delivers top-end dynamics and inspirational performance. It allows us to demonstrate what is possible today with a road-legal car. Owners can drive their BMW M4 GTS to circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps, the Nürburgring or Laguna Seca – for clubsport events, for example – and then set lap times there that raise the bar to extremely high levels for road-legal cars.”

Performance boost courtesy of innovative water injection.

At the heart of each and every BMW M model is its engine. The BMW M4 GTS uses the multi-award-winning six-cylinder in-line turbo engine from the BMW M3/M4, but adds innovative water injection technology to give the 3.0-litre unit a substantial power boost. The water injection system raises the engine’s output significantly – to 368 kW – and increases torque to 600 Nm, yet still keeps fuel economy and CO2 emissions at the level of the BMW M4 Coupe (8.5 litres per 100 km*, 199 g/km*). This makes the BMW M4 GTS the most agile, radical and dynamically potent model in the range. It races from a standstill to 100 km/h in a mere 3.8 seconds and hits a limited top speed of 305 km/h.

Lightweight design extends into the details.

Intelligent lightweight construction allows the BMW M engineers to limit the car’s DIN kerb weight to 1,510 kilograms (ECE kerb weight: 1,585 kg). Its outstanding weight-to-power ratio of 3.0 kg/hp provides the perfect platform for a highly dynamic driving experience. The rigorous weight-saving measures extend through both the interior and exterior of the car. Inside, carbon-fibre bucket seats, a lightweight centre console, the lightweight construction of the rear seat panelling and boot area partition, and special lightweight door and side panel trim, including door pull loops in place of solid door handles, are clearly visible indications of the designers’ commitment to weight-saving. The rigorous application of lightweight design can also be seen in details that are out of view. The instrument panel bracing tube is made from lightweight carbon fibre. And on the outside of the car, the newly designed bonnet, roof and adjustable front splitter are also constructed from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The adjustable rear wing, too, is cut from this light but extremely durable high-tech material. It rests on intricate, CNC-machined aluminium mounts fixed to the CFRP boot lid which likewise demonstrate how every detail, no matter how small, has been honed to minimise weight. Teaming up with the diffuser – again, made from carbon fibre – below the rear bumper, the rear wing optimises the flow of air and reduces lift at the rear axle. The exhaust system has a titanium muffler, which allows a weight saving of 20 per cent. Its emotionally rich soundtrack fits the M profile perfectly and envelops the inside and outside of the car in the ambience of the race track.

Performance-maximising equipment features.

The standard-fitted seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) selects the optimum ratio for every driving situation with no interruption in the flow of power as it makes its way to the rear wheels. The driver can also select gears manually using either shift paddles on the steering wheel or the selector lever. The Drivelogic shift programs and Launch Control have been retuned to the engine’s increased output. The weight-minimised, exclusive M light-alloy wheels in star-spoke 666 M Styling are forged and polished, and come in Acid Orange. They are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres (front: 265/35 R19, rear: 285/30 R20) which are adapted specifically to the BMW M4 GTS and therefore play a role in the car’s outstanding mechanical traction and feedback through corners.

The three-way M coilover suspension specially tuned for the BMW M4 GTS can be adjusted to individual tastes and therefore also to the demands of different race circuits. The lightweight M carbon ceramic brakes offer a well-defined pressure point and ensure outstanding deceleration even under sustained heavy loads, such as at the limit on the race track.

World-exclusive OLED technology, brilliant LED light.

The familiar two sets of twin circular headlights with four corona rings ensure the best possible illumination of the road surface. They combine cutting-edge LED (light-emitting diode) technology with BMW Selective Beam (dazzle-free high beam assistant) and Adaptive Headlights.

The L-shaped rear lights are just as distinctive as the design of the headlights. Indeed, innovative OLED rear lights will make their series-production debut in the BMW M4 GTS. OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) are a new kind of light source that light up over their full surface with a very homogeneous effect – unlike LED units, which emit their light in the form of points. The flat design of OLEDs (they measure just 1.4 millimetres in height) and the ability to trigger individual light modules separately open up fresh possibilities for lighting concepts and exudes the presence of exceptional precision. As such, the tail lights underline the width of the rear end, lend the car an even more eye-catching and powerful appearance and ensure it cuts a stand-out figure in both the light and dark.


The interior – focused, exclusive and committed to motor sport.

The carbon-fibre M bucket seats for the driver and passenger stick firmly with the lightweight construction theme inside the pure-bred, exclusive interior. They weigh around 50 per cent less than the sports seats in the BMW M4 Coupe, enable an ideal seating position and offer compelling long-distance comfort to go with their unbeatable levels of support. The exclusive Alcantara/Merino leather seat covering along with M stripes in the backrests, three-point seat belts and door pull loops highlight the profile of the BMW M4 GTS as a high-performance sports machine as well as the car’s standalone character. The M4 GTS is fitted with different bucket-style M sports seats (including lightweight backrests with cut-outs) for the North American market, in line with local registration requirements.

The exclusive material Alcantara is also used for the M sports steering wheel, whose “12 o’clock” marker underlines the racing character of the BMW M4 GTS. In place of a rear seat bench, the BMW M4 GTS features a glass-fibre-reinforced plastic (GFRP) shelf and a rear panel in carbon-fibre sandwich construction. Both are covered in Alcantara, and together they enable a weight saving of around 40 per cent.

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