BMW unveils its competitive streak
When it comes to very fast compact sedans and coupés the M3 and M4 take some beating but with Mercedes quickly gaining ground with not one, but two AMG-powered C-Class models, BMW is introducing a new Competition Package that ups horsepower and acceleration.
Whether specified as a four-door (M3) sedan or as a two-door (M4) coupé BMW's latest M cars can already race from 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds or in 4.3 seconds when its 431hp straight six-cylinder turbocharged engine is mated to a full manual rather than paddle-shift transmission.
However, with the new Competition Package option, this output jumps to 450hp and that 0-100km/h time is trimmed by 0.1 of a second regardless of transmission type so as little as 4.0 seconds.
Straight-line speed is great but BMWs aren't bought by people simply looking to get away first every time from a junction or a set of traffic lights.
As well as a retuned engine, the cars benefit from new underpinnings such as springs and dampers, lighter alloy wheels and a new sports exhaust system. All of which means that the electronic driving mode system has also required some serious attention.
But it's all necessary. In September, Mercedes launched the twin-turbo V8-powered AMG C 63 coupé. It has 476hp on tap and can go from 0-100km/h in 4 seconds flat. And in the lead up to this week's Geneva Motor Show the company also unveiled a V6 version, the C 43 4Matic. It has four-wheel drive, a twin-turbo V6 engine and 367hp at its disposal. This results in a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds.
At the Frankfurt motor show the third company in this German triumvirate, Audi, launched the ‘S' version of its new A4 and it is no slouch either. Capable of 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds and with 350hp courtesy of a turbocharged direct-injection V6 engine it is just as quick as the latest Mercedes but there's more to come.
Audi is yet to launch its RS versions (RS is Audi's equivalent to BMW's ‘M' or Mercedes-Benz's AMG models) of the new car and they are going to be considerably quicker and, unlike either the Mercedes or the BMW, will be sold without an electronic limiter stopping the car from going faster than 250km/h (155mph).
But for now, with the Competition Package option, BMW is managing to maintain its lead over its closest direct rivals right up to 155mph, at least.