Manufacturing a sports car in 2021 is not an easy task. It's a small market in terms of new car buyers. But there are still manufacturers willing to take the risk: honouring their heritage while producing modern machines flying the performance car flag.
Cars should evoke joy, cars should make you smile.
A manufacturer committed for many years to producing cars that do just that is, of course, BMW.
I was lucky enough to experience this joy first hand, driving the latest BMW M3 and M4 on the race track at Hampton Downs.
Being the type of driver who has only ever driven older Japanese cars, I wasn't familiar with the level of precision, control and ease that these cars offer. Any driver could attack a track in these cars and not end up in the grass. But at the same time, with the flick of a button these cars could gracefully take you to the local supermarket without the fear that most track focused rear wheel drive vehicles instil in the rain.
Powering these German beasts are a 3L inline six with a nice set of turbos, producing a handsome 375kw and a smile-inducing 650Nm of torque. It's paired with an 8 speed automatic with paddle shifters. I know many car enthusiasts are lamenting the death of the manual. I've also pondered this, but when it comes to everyday drivability with that much power and torque it makes sense. There’s still a very visceral connection with the car.
Having said that, the M3 and M4 do have a manual variant. When I spoke to the Managing Director of BMW Group NZ Karol Abrasowicz-Madej about manual transmission, he said they'll still be offering a manual transmission version.
"However we have to be mindful at a certain point of time we need to stick to the automatic transmission: this is one of the only ways where the normal road user can cope with the power and torque the cars are delivering."
Let's also discuss the elephant in the room here. Yes - the highly debated front grill, which has become somewhat of a meme. Honestly, in real life it's not that bad and kind of speaks to the German style of engineering, which makes BMW unique in the first place. Abrasowicz-Madej calls the grill element "the lungs of the car".
"And we believe it's part of who we are and we are not afraid to deliver what stands out from the crowd."
The other elephant in the room, is, of course, the price. The M3 starts at a cool NZ$168,900, while the M4 starts from NZ$172,900. While this may be pocket money for a select few, the average Kiwi buyer doesn't exactly have that lying behind the sofa cushions.
For some, it might be a goal. For others, a pipe dream.
Check out the video above to see the cars get put through their paces.