BMW M Fascination Nordschleife. Drive the BMW M4 Coupé on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
17. Aug. 14
More than 24.800 hp.
A glimpse out of the hotel window and already your heart skips a beat as the sense of anticipation grows. A total of around 24,801 hp awaits us.
We travelled to the first BMW M FASCINATION NORDSCHLEIFE training course at Nürburgring the evening before. The first item on the agenda prior to the group dinner is a short theory session. It's worth paying attention, as the next day will demonstrate.
The race track training courses are a highlight of the BMW Driving Experience program. The training course on the Nürburgring Nordschleife is a particularly speciality: the track's 73 corners and a topography including considerable variations in altitude make it quite unique.
Even experts who have been round the Nürburgring Nordschleife thousands of times say they learn something new on every lap. The surest way to run into serious problems on the Nordschleife is to make the erroneous assumption that you have everything under control. A little humility combined with a lot of concentration can definitely extend your life expectancy here.
As we draw the curtains apart the next morning, those who have been here before know what lies in store for us. The Nürburgring Nordschleife is known as the "Green Hell". The track is demanding, the trees are green - but it's the Eifel weather that makes it really hellish.
In our case the rain is pouring down. The shower in the hotel before breakfast seems dry by comparison.
But this is no time for anxiety. And the Austin Yellow cars parked in front of the hotel exercise such a powerful attraction, they would probably find their way to us through a snow storm and an earthquake combined. So we get into our brand-new BMW M4 Coupés - nicely run in with just under 3,000 km on the clock. A press of the button: the engine awakens. And so do we.
A few minutes later we are on the track and running a slow (as we will realise later) and relaxed preparatory lap. We are already starting to notice how the DSC system intervenes just when we already thought we were applying the accelerator pedal very sensitively. It is very noticeable that the car has relatively good traction even on a wet surface. But the water is running across the track in streams or forms large, contiguous puddle configurations. Our instructor comforts us by saying that these conditions would probably be sufficient for a race to be discontinued.
We work our way around the track sector by sector. In fact we begin to realise that the weather is actually something of a gift after all. After all, there is surely no more compelling reason to practice a sensitive, well-balanced driving style. You learn to feel with increasing accuracy just how much steering movement is possible based on the position of the accelerator pedal. If you want too much, DSC takes effect and reins you in. The new steering of the BMW M4 Coupé provides excellent feedback, helping you assess the current friction coefficient. The latter varies considerably - not just because of the differing amounts of water.
Also because the 21-kilometre track is covered with highly varied asphalt. At one spot you may be able to reach incredibly high cornering speeds, while two metres further on it's so slippery you can hardly get out of the car without falling over. We work on the points for initial braking, steering and acceleration, interrupted by a short lunch break. Hands-on physics - with the addition of a superb fun factor.
The day ends with a number of guided laps. If anyone wasn't addicted before, they certainly are now. You feel you are at one with the car, feeling the road and moving carefully but already reaching a considerable speed. The BMW M4 Coupé makes things easy - its balanced qualities mean it's a reliable partner.
When we come off the track in the evening we are thoroughly exhausted. But there's no doubt about it: we're certainly better drivers - even after just one day.
BMW Driving Experience offers a wide range of training courses, and it's a good idea to have completed one or two of them before venturing onto the Nordschleife in an M automobile. The learning curve is certainly a steep one.
After dinner, the evening continued with a 7:1 World Cup win of Germany against Brazil - but by that time we were already accustomed to spectacular things happening.
A look out of the window the next day showed that the cars waiting below were still wet - but wasn't the Austin Yellow a touch more radiant that it had been the day before? Were there bright spots beginning to appear in the sky?
Sure enough: the sky clears. The really reckless and optimistic ones among us are saying how they just remembered to pack their sunglasses.
At first the track is wet, then partly moist. But we do all we can do dry out the ideal line. Tyre temperatures begin to rise - as does our speed.
Potential longitudinal and transverse acceleration rates increase. Anyone who doesn't believe it can insert the USB stick provided and take a closer look at the data such as speed and acceleration later on - and you can also examine your own concentrated facial expression as well as the view out onto the track from the car. Incidentally, this is also a great way to work on your familiarity with the track after the event.
The video looking out of the moving car supplemented with the recorded comments of the instructor via radio is something we will certainly spend some time watching at home. "Position the car centrally here, set the speed again precisely - and then ...". Go for it, you want to add.
We get faster and faster and are now allowed to switch from DSC to the more tolerant MDM mode. As our speed increases we begin to feel the crests and dips much more. The Adaptive M suspension is quite simply a dream. The COMFORT or SPORT settings are just right for the Ring. The M Drivelogic 7-speed dual clutch transmission offers amazingly effective gear shifts even in automatic mode. But it's even more fun to shift gear manually using the paddles or the gear selection lever. The sheer power of the BMW M4 Coupé's engine is quite incredible. The maximum output is available across an engine speed range of 5500 rpm to 7300 rpm. The gear transitions are perfect, with maximum output constantly available over a long period of time. The car pulls away as if there were no tomorrow. And the M power unit has a response that is no way inferior to that of a naturally aspirated engine.
At the start of the course we heard that one guest was taking the BMW M FASCINATION NORDSCHLEIFE course for the 19th time. By the time it's all over we can well understand why. As we say goodbye in the BMW VIP area in the TÜV Tower alongside the finishing straight of the GP track, some are already looking at their diaries to find time for the next training course. By that time there are likely to be even more BMW M3 and BMW M4 in the multi-storey car park belonging to course participants.
If you want to find out what these cars are capable of, a quick run in the courtyard of the dealership or sales subsidiary is enough to ignite the passion. On the race track, M automobiles put all the cards on the table. It's worth it.
Interview with BMW Driving Experience instructor Philipp Wänninger.
Mr. Wänninger, just a short while after the BMW M4 Coupé market launch, participants of the BMW M FASCINATION NORDSCHLEIFE training course were able to try the car out for themselves on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in July. What was their reaction?
Philipp Wänninger: They were really looking forward to the new BMW M4 Coupé. They were already familiar with journalists' initial reports, so expectations were high.
There were lots of beaming faces.
You have done many laps here in the new BMW M4 Coupé as part of your actual job as an M development engineer. It must be great for you now to see customers driving the car on the racing track?
Absolutely. Especially when their comments are so positive. The car has to work well in everyday traffic on public roads and it has to pass the test on the Nordschleife, too - a very demanding race track.
Is there anything you can take away from these training courses for your own development work?
Participants come to the course with very different levels of experience. There are customers who are here for the first time and who are not familiar with either the car or the track. Others have long been bitten by the Nordschleife bug and have been here many times before. If you hear people say that the car feels good when braking on the bumpy section coming out of the Adenauer Forst / Metzgesfeld exit and that it decelerates better than expected, that obviously says something about the set-up we have chosen.
How often do you get to work as an instructor for BMW Driving Experience?