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09-07-2000, 05:14 PM
An extensive and intensive testing programme guarantees absolute everyday fitness, practicability and quality of the new M3. All the components of the new M3 have undertaken stringent testing and been finely tuned.<p><br>All the units of the new M3 have been tested to the extreme, initially in converted 3 Series bodies then finally in individually completed M3 prototypes. The climatic extent of the testing of the M3 ranged from heat tests in Death Valley, USA, and in the remote deserts of Namibia in +45 degrees Celsius heat; to cold tests in Finland and Canada at –40 degrees. The test program ranged from stop-and-go traffic in Munich and Los Angeles to racing through the mountains, valleys and bends of the Alps to extreme full-load driving at BMW’s own testing facilities in Miramas, France. <p><p>The last test drives and fine-tuning of the M3 were carried out in France during the Summer of 2000. Herbert Hopp, manager of the automobile endurance-testing programme at BMW: "The new M3 has already clocked up well over one million kilometres of testing. Here at the BMW test site in Miramas, the M3 has received its finishing touches. Extreme endurance testing was again carried out, running in two shifts from 5 in the morning to 11 at night. Amongst others, we drove the M3 under special 40,000km endurance conditions similar to those demands placed on motor and powertrain of driving 200,000km on the freeway. The M3 mastered all the chicanes with style." <p><br>A hard job for the two driving professionals, who along with Herbert Hopp and the testing engineers thoroughly checked over the M3. During the test drives they wore fire protection suits and helmets similar to those worn by Formula One pilots. Summer daytime temperatures at the testing facilities in Miramas can hover around the 40 degrees Celsius mark. Oil temperatures of the test cars can reach up to 120 degrees and up to 900 degrees can be measured on the manifold. Herbert Hopp: "At the beginning of the test the M3 prototypes were equipped with black paintwork and they didn’t have any air conditioning. Driving two hours with speeds of up to 250 km/h is not just placing extreme strain on the car but also on our test drivers."<p><p>Outstanding M innovations, such as dynamic stability control and the variable M differential lock that are standard equipment in the new M3, were successfully tested by Herbert Hopp and his team and perfectly fine-tuned with the whole car. Future technical highlights that distinguish the M3 of course include the sequential M gearbox that can be fitted as desired. Herbert Hopp is convinced: "The SMG combines absolute comfort and sports gear-change with the highest level of operation safety. Anyone who has driven with it will not want to do without it." <p><p>A special focus of the tests was the 8,000km endurance test of the M3 on the northern track at Nürburgring. That is where life was breathed into the M3. The demands placed on the components of the car were up to 20 times greater than under normal driving. The M3 was equipped with sophisticated measuring equipment for the test, recording all technical data in detail: The electronic systems measure over 70 channels and record all data relevant to the test such as oil and water pressure and temperature and brake and axle temperatures. <p><p>What technology cannot record and computers not simulate is how the driver experiences the acceleration of the car and suspension, shock-absorbing and steering characteristics. How does the driver appraise driving on straight stretches of road and in the bends, braking and steering behaviour, alignment and ergonomics? Herbert Hopp: "Technical knowledge, being quick on the uptake and physical fitness are indispensable for a test driver. However, it is also especially important for the further development of the car that the driver is able to analyse and accordingly report on the driving qualities experienced." <p><br>The M3 will have gone through millions of test kilometres when the completely developed version finally is presented to the public. It has been awarded the ‘Nürburgring tested’ seal at BMW. The M3 is more than the sum of its components: a well-trained athlete that impressively underpins the leadership claims of BMW M in the sports, high-performance car sector. <br>

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