After an absence of three years, BMW M Fest returns this weekend at Kyalami as not only the biggest of its kind in the world, but also celebration of the M division’s 50th anniversary this year.
In what can also be seen as the prelude to BMW itself looking back on fifty years in South Africa in 2023, the 2022 rendition of M Fest publicly commences this Saturday (15 October) from 08h00 to 22h00 and then again on Sunday from 08h00 with 19h00 with limited tickets reportedly still available.
Besides offering a series of attractions, live concerts and activities , never mind instructor guided laps around the circuit in an assortment of models ranging from the 135i to the M850i Gran Coupe, M fans will also get a first glimpse of the all-new M2, as well as the ultra-limited edition M4 CSL and the controversially styled XM.
Confirmed for South African introduction from 2023, all three debuted on local soil this past Thursday (13 October) for the first time as part of the official media day, which included addresses from M boss Frank van Meel and an appearance by newly crowned DTM champion, Sheldon van der Linde.
Announcing the complete electrification before the 2030 as the next step for the brand, and indeed the Mini, Rolls-Royce and M divisions, BMW South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa CEO, Peter van Binsbergen, said while the switch will be gradual as per country’s challenges relative to other markets, a target has been for 50% of all sales comprising fully electric vehicle across all the mentioned marques by said year.
“We realise that customer’s need differ depending on the roll-out of electro-mobility in prevailing markets,” van Binsbergen told the assembled media.
“We know that we (South Africa) are not at the forefront of e-mobility, but we launched the i3 here in 2015 and today, we offer battery electric vehicles, the iX, iX3, i4 and Mini Cooper S E and we are about to launch the i7 and the iX1. And I am confident we will continue to lead the premium electric segment”.
On the subject of the M brand, whose sales increased by 24% year-on-year in September, van Binsbergen said it sees no relinquishing in the brand’s appeal that currently holds a 20% share of the market compared to arch rivals Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport.
“M Fest is not about us, but because our fans make it a success. It is [therefore] a reward for their loyalty and passion that is the biggest M Fest [in the world],” he said.
Announcing the recently introduced i4 M50 as the best-selling M model at present, M boss van Meel stated that the division will remain true to its motorsport designation and heritage, but added, “we are expanding to new topics such as lifestyle, especially with the XM.
“Basing upon the successes of the past fifty years, we are going forward and looking forward for the next fifty to make sure that M remains the most powerful letter in the world”.
Of the mentioned three models debuting at M Fest, the XM will be the first to go on-sale from the first quarter of next year with pricing still to be announced.
The first entirely M-developed model since the M1, the XM slots-in above the X7, but rides on a bespoke M platform in addition to being equipped as standard with Adaptive M suspension, the M-tuned Integral Active Steering, 48-volt Active Roll Stabilisation system, an M Sport differential and the electronic Active Roll Control anti-roll bars.
Designed from the onset to be not only an SUV but also a hybrid, the XM, at one point rumoured to the called X8, will be powered by a single poweruint for now; the familiar 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 paired to a 25.7-kWh lithium-ion battery that powers a 145kW/280Nm electric motor integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic gearbox.
Combined, the system delivers 480kW/800Nm, which allows the XM to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and on a limited top speed of 250 km/h or 270 km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package fitted. The claimed all-electric range is 88 km.
Officially the most powerful M devised model ever made, at the other end of the spectrum, the M4 CSL debuts the division’s fast accelerating model to date.
Reviving the equally iconic “Coupe Sport Leichtbau” moniker last used by the E46 M3 CSL, only 15 of the confirmed 1 000 models heading for production will come to South Africa, with all having already been accounted for at R3 570 038 apiece.
Weighing 108.8 kg less than the all-wheel-drive M4 Competition, the rear-wheel-drive only M4 CSL takes leave of the rear seats for a pair of helmet holders, while also gaining an extensively revised chassis, unique interior trim pieces and a more powerful version of the standard S58 3.0-litre straight-six turbocharged engine.
Uprated from 375 kW to 405 kW with torque unchanged at 650 Nm, the M4 CSL will get from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 307 km/h.
Debuting last, in the second quarter of next year to be exact, the M2, fresh from its world showing earlier this week, will hold the distinction of the final new BMW M model not to make use of any type of electrification.
Arguably the model that attracted most of the national media’s attention, especially in the bespoke Zandvoort Blue that will be one of five colours available, the others being Alpine White, Sapphire Black Metallic, Brooklyn Grey Metallic and Toronto Red, the M2 keeps hold not only of the rear-wheel-drive CLAR platform, but also the six-speed manual gearbox that will be offered in South Africa alongside the eight-speed Steptronic.
Up front, the S58 powerunit from the M3 and M4 lives on, but with a reduced outputs from 375kW/650Nm to 338kW/550Nm, seven kilowatts more than the previous generation Competition models and 66 kW up on the last M2.
Able to hit a top speed of 250 km/h or 285 km/h with the M Driver’s Package, the M2 will get from 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, though surprisingly, in 4.1 seconds when specified with the manual gearbox.
Priced at the equivalent of just under R1.2-million in the United States, pricing for the M2 in South Africa is still unknown, though projections point to a likely starting sticker of around R1.5-million given the R1 063 662 starting sticker of the M240i xDrive .
Expect, however, an official pricing announcement either towards the end of this year, or before sales commence in 2023.