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BMW M5 and M3 CRT Make Their Debut During M Party at Nürburgring - VIDEO ENHANCED

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor

SEE ALSO: BMW Unveils New 5th Generation M5 Concept

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BMW M5 at M Night Party

NÜRBURGRING, Germany - June 27, 2011: This past Thursday, on the eve of the 24-hour race of the Nürburgring, BMW M GmbH unveiled the fifth generation of the M5 as well as a very exclusive edition of the M3.

For a sporty division like M GmbH, the Ring is the perfect place to present a new model. Therefore, the ‘M Night’ marked the debut of the new models, but also of the M Festival, a four day event at the grounds of the famous race track. Media, business relations and M-customers did enjoy the night’s program at the BMW foyer at the track, enlightened by a concert of Los Gringos. Interesting detail: Brian Watts, M GmbH’s general manager sales and marketing, who provided the details of the presentation of the two cars in English, is also the director, lead vocal and guitar player of this excellent blues group.

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BMW M3 CRT at M Night Party

On Friday the M guests got a garage tour and took part in BMW M Corso, a lap on the Ring’s Nordschleife in the passenger seat, watch the qualifying and enjoy more stage events. The weekend marks a meeting with the BMW-drivers, more stage events and, of course, the 24-hour race itself.

Last year, the M3 GT2 won the endurance battle and is now one of the favourites for a podium place. Daniel Schmidt, general manager of sports and business management at BMW Motorsport: “It will not be easy, competition is very strong and as usual so many different things, like the weather, can be of influence during the race…”

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Light weight M3 with GTS technology
Let’s get back to the new M models. CTR stands for Carbon Racing Technology to indicate the lightweight construction of the exclusive M3 model of which only 67 will be built. The number has no meaning, other than the amount of M3’s that can be produced as the very last units of the current 3 Series. The upcoming new generation also marks the end of its M3. “Then its ‘Schluss’, said Dr. Friedrich Nitschke, the recently appointed general manager of M. GmbH*.

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Dr. Friedrich Nitschke

The M3 CRT gets the driveline that gives the GTS wings: the very same 450 hp and 325 lb-ft strong 4.4-liter V-8, teamed to the 7-speed M DCT Drivelogic transmission. Also the rigid sub frames, the adjustable dampers, the hi-performance brakes and the light weight titanium muffler are carried over from the GTS.

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BMW M3 CRT interior

The use of lightweight CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) material for the hood that is enclosing a honeycomb structure, for the rear spoiler, the integrated air intake in the front skirt and for the front bucket seats bring the weight of the M3 CRT down to just under 3,500 pounds.

We may see the use of the light weight material as a shake down, because BMW will put it into production for the upcoming i3 and i8, the electric vehicles of the new "i" brand. Notwithstanding the standard equipment with the abovementioned double clutch transmission, audio, climate control, alarm system, navigation and park distance control, the CRT is around 155 lbs lighter than the ‘normal’ M3.

The exclusive edition is painted in Polar Silver, a matte frozen silver metallic, and has Melbourne Red metallic kidney grille. Orange and black leather is used for all four seats, while aluminium trim in carbon pattern, an alcantara covered M steering wheel and aluminium details covered with carbon print are also unique to the CRT.

Each CRT gets a plaque with the production number. Just like the GTS, the M3 CRT will not be shipped across the ocean. That means that North American customers who are willing to pay 130,000 Euros should also buy an apartment in Europe to be able to drive the CTR. The advantage is that in Germany they will be able to take it to its (limited) top speed of 180 mph and perform some sprints from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds.

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M5 looks the way it should
Three months ago, we could see the M5 Concept in a building of M GmbH’s headquarters near Munich. The concept showed much of what we could expect of the styling of the new M5. At the M Night it was ready to be checked inside and out. No wonder, the invited guests were all over the new model that will celebrate its official world debut at the IAA auto show in Frankfurt in September.

The new M5 gets the engine that powers the M-models of the X5 and X6, the 4.4-liter Twin-Power Turbo V-8 with 553 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 6,750 rpm. According to Albert Biermann, project leader of the M5, the V-8 has a better throttle response than in the two X-models. The power plant is combined with the new developed 7-speed DCT and races from a stand still to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds, going on to 124 mph in just 13.0 s. The maximum speed is electronically restricted to 155 mph, but anyone who chooses the optional Drivers Package will be able to get it to 190 mph.

Click PLAY to watch the BMW M5 Prototype testing video

Dr. Nitschke promises optimal traction with the electronic limited slip differential, while the active shock absorbers add to maximum contact with the road.

Compared with the former M5, that was discontinued two years, when the new 5 Series hit the market, the power is up 10 and torque is up 30 percent, while with the use of start-stop and brake regeneration the fuel consumption is 30 percent better and averages around 10 l/100 km in the EU cycle, or 28.5 mpg with a CO2 emission of 232 g/km.

The 2012 BMW M5 will hit the European markets in December and will arrive in Asia in February. The company will start building the US homologated model in the spring of 2012. Pricing, technical specs, EPA mileage and equipment can be expected to be released closer to the introduction date.

Lucky me; I only have to wait until the second half of September for the first test drive with the new M5. I cannot wait.

*Dr. Friedrich Nitschke, general manager of BMW M GmbH, was previously leading the development division at Mini.