The Bavarian auto manufacturer says that it is the ideal engineer’s lab too.
BMW, like most large auto manufacturers, has expanded into areas that at times can seem quite far removed from its core principles. In this case, those principles are a driver-focused car that more often than not tends to be the best handler in its class.
But dig beneath the surface and even when sampling one of its SUVs or larger luxury sedans, that innate handling ability is still there. The reason says BMW's head of chassis development, Peter Langen, is because of the Nurburgring.
The Green Hell has risen to prominence in the past decade thanks to the sheer number of manufacturers trying to top each other's lap times there. This has prompted some detractors to question the relevance of the circuit: what is the point of testing there if it is of no importance in the real world?
Well, BMW begs to differ. While aiming for lap records may have its place, Langen says that the varied road surface and numerous corner types are crucial in providing repeatable feedback to the engineers. Those fastest lap times, even if measured against the companies own models are also a nice benchmark to see how each generation has progressed. The latest Z4 was recently shown to be quicker than the M2 around the circuit while the next-gen 3 Series has also been extensively tested on the track.
Peter's familiarity with the track allows him to concentrate 100 percent on what the car is doing. He says," …out on track, it is very rarely important to be the fastest driver out there. It is far more important that I am driving somewhere where I can put all my focus into what the car is doing."
He does say that familiarity on any racetrack may give a similar result but the variety and quality of the public roads around the 'Ring are another drawcard that makes the track a logical location to use.