Held on the small but twisty road course at Mission Raceway Park, the annual M Power Tour offers a stress-free half-day of fun behind the wheel of BMW’s most high-performance and track-focused models. The “M” of BMWs M lineup stands for motorsport as the M Division was born from BMW’s racing program back in 1972. Through a safe and educational day exploring the performance capabilities of the M cars on a racetrack, the M Power Tour highlights BMW’s M car lineup in an appropriately rev-happy environment.
The M Power Tour begins by breaking the two most complicated sections of the track into separate learning exercises. Participants get a chance to try each section from behind the wheel of each BMW M car, all while receiving turn-by-turn guidance from a BMW instructor via an in-car radio. Repeating the same set of corners multiple times allows one to become comfortable with the incredible performance of these cars. From the physics-defying 567hp X5M (an SUV), to the 600hp M6 coupe, to the legendary 575hp M5 sedan and finally the razor-sharp 425hp M4 (the two-door version of the M3), each model was an assault on the senses and offered the M experience expressed in a wide array of vehicles.
After the cornering sessions, I jumped into the wonderfully bolstered front seat of a Silverstone Metallic M4, complete with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, carbon ceramic brakes and a screaming titanium exhaust. Eager to run full laps of the track, our group of five cars was encouraged to match the racing line set by our instructor, who was piloting a hard-to-miss Fire Orange M3. With each successful corner, the pace became steadily more rapid and the M4 begs you to push a little harder and brake a little later, all while rewarding steady and progressive inputs at the controls.
Easily reaching 170 kilometres-per-hour in 4th gear at the end of the main straight, my best efforts were nowhere near the limits of the M4’s capabilities. It’s hard to believe that a road car, capable of managing all of life’s daily errands, could be so comfortable and capable on a racetrack. This latest generation of the M3/M4 is the first to use a turbocharged engine, opting for a small and lightweight twin-turbo three liter V6. Torque delivery is fantastic and turbo lag is almost non-existent, with only a small wave of additional power coming on as you whizz past 6000 rpm on your way to a giggle-inducing redline at 7500.
With the wail of that titanium exhaust still singing in my ears, my laps were over. For those looking to truly experience the racing DNA of the BMW M cars, the M Power Tour is the perfect mix of track day and test drive.
Photo by James Stacey.