Lights and stickers!
Well, visibility isn’t a bad idea when your role is gathering up MotoGP riders approaching you at over 200mph. It’s all fairly standard safety-car spec: lights, an ex-racer behind the wheel sat in a multi-point harnessed seat, a cage where the rear pews once were and an extinguisher.
M has also added some KW coilover adjustable suspension, and there’s a fruity pipe and BMW’s optional carbon brakes. All sensible stuff given its role, but it’s under the bonnet where it gets really interesting.
Go on, then…
It features water injection. If that sounds like lunacy, you’d be right – water and combustion aren’t happy companions. The water injection relates to the M4’s 3.0-litre 6cyl TwinPower turbos having a fine spray squirted into the collector before it reaches the engine.
Which does what exactly?
The water injection cools the air, making it denser and increasing the oxygen content for the double bonus of increased power and improved efficiency. The system in the M4 only works above 5,000rpm, but it could easily be used in less performance-orientated downsized turbo engines. All for no more hassle than a top-up of distilled water in a separate tank about every fifth fuel stop.
Sod efficiency. How much more power?
Officially, and cautiously, BMW is saying eight per cent improvements all round. That’s impressive, but BMW M’s boss, Frank van Meel, says the increases over the standard 424bhp could be enough to have the peak output number starting with a five.
Ooof, that’s more like it…
Indeed, that’s right up our street, especially as the system seems to have made the M4’s sometimes spiky delivery a bit more friendly across the entire rev range. On the Qatari Losail track prior to the MotoGP race, a handful of laps underlined it’s an absolute riot to drive, even with everything turned off.
Bit of a handful, then?
Not one bit: the M4’s change in character is as marked in safety-car guise. It’s so friendly, so benign at and above its limits that your mum could drive it like a drift champion. The delivery is so much friendlier, the power never seeming to let up as the revs pile on, and the steering, already sharp in the standard car, gains a new level of alertness and feedback thanks to the suspension revisions.
Can I buy one?
It’s currently only a weekend company car for safety-car driver Mike Lafuente. Believe the rumours, though – and we so want to – and the safety car is said to be a not-too-subtle hint at a forthcoming M4 GTS model. If that’s the case, get your order in now.