The 2022 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will get underway this weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, before making its way to nine different cities ahead of the final race in Seoul, Korea on August 14. Along with the cars, teams and drivers, one new addition will remain constant throughout the season, the Porsche Taycan Official Safety Car.
“We’re proud that Formula E has entrusted a Porsche with this task – one that is important for the safety of its drivers,” said Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “With the Taycan Turbo S as the official safety car, we’re making an important contribution to track safety and also underlining the importance of Formula E for Porsche Motorsport.”
The ninth FIA-sanctioned race of the season will be held in Vancouver, Canada this year, from June 30 through July 2, alongside the Canadian E-Fest, which is a unique festival that combines a creative business conference on sustainability with an esports tournament, plus more. Tickets, which start at only $70, can be acquired directly from the Canadian E-Fest website.
The Canadian E-Fest event will be set up in Vancouver’s False Creek area, next to city centre business and residential districts, but unlike the Champ Car race weekends held there 18 years-plus prior, there shouldn’t be any complaints about noise violations from local residents, due to the near silent operation of the Formula E cars.
“Formula E is delighted the Porsche Taycan Turbo S will serve as the Championship’s safety car from Season 8,” said Jamie Reigle, CEO of Formula E. “The Porsche Taycan Turbo S is the pinnacle of high-performance electrified vehicles and will light up Formula E city racetracks around the world. In designing the Formula E safety car, Porsche reimagined the critical on-track safety function to be a powerful symbol of the championship’s commitment to an electrified future and the unity of the competitors in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.”
The 2022 Porsche Taycan Turbo S that serves as the base for the new Formula E Safety Car is whisper quiet as well, and that’s despite 750 hp (with Overboost) and 774 lb-ft of torque. The car can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in only 2.8 seconds when its Launch Control feature is engaged, plus it moves off the line to 160 km/h in a scant 6.1 seconds. The new Taycan Turbo S starts at $218,000, but it’s possible to get into a 2022 Taycan for as little as $119,900.
Say hello to Thing 1 and Thing 2. They’re not very pretty, but they can shoo, shoo, shoo, shoo!
Ok, Dr. Suess we’re not, but you’ve got to give us some credit for having a little fun with BMW’s two new cartoonish cars. The 2021 M3 sports sedan and M4 sport coupe were unveiled Tuesday, September 22, after which the world’s performance car netizens let their feelings be known in (mostly) unsatisfied ways. Artist’s renderings soon popped up showing how BMW should have designed the oft-criticized duo, which certainly isn’t the best of initial signs.
Of course, plenty of pandering professional pundits were merely calling the new M cars “bold” or “dramatic”, which probably shows more kindness than the polarizing cars deserve, but to each his or her own, as the saying goes, so whether we like BMW’s new styling approach or not, we can at least revel in their engineering prowess.
Certainly, BMW is reaching back into its storied history for inspiration, possibly pulling new M3 and M4 frontal design cues from the original mid-‘60s 2000 C and 2000 CS sport coupes that eventually became the much-loved and highly collectible 1968 to 1975 E9 CS series of coupes, not to mention much earlier 1930s and ‘40s-era 300 series cars that wore then-typical tall and narrow radiator grilles. Either way the Bavarian automaker has the automotive world abuzz, which isn’t such a bad thing on its own.
The new M3 (G80) and M4 (G82) are the products of BMW design head Domagoj Dukec, who made sure everything rearward of the massive vertical dual-kidney grille is sleek and acceptably stylish, not dissimilar to the F80, F82 and F83 compact M cars that came before. Even these models were more aggressive than any previous M3 (the M4 only came into existence with the F models), featuring subtler bodywork that more easily slid past the radar.
Now the new M3 and M4 look as fast as they are. Both are capable of sprinting from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds in their most basic “core” trims, plus 80 to 120 km/h in only 4.1 seconds when their standard six-speed manual transmission is placed in fourth gear, and on to a top speed of 250 km/h unless upgraded with an M Driver’s Package that pushes their terminal velocity to 290 km/h.
As is now part of the M business model, upgraded Competition models can be had that chop the M3 and M4’s zero to 100 km/h time by 0.3 seconds to a mere 3.9 seconds, while the two cars’ 80 to 120 km/h passing capability gets axed by a whopping 1.5 seconds resulting in just 2.6 seconds to accomplish the feat, or so says BMWblog.com.
BMW’s 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine, now internally dubbed S58, has been upgraded for its new application, with two mono-scroll turbochargers boasting quick-reacting electronically-controlled wastegates, plus ultra-efficient air-to-water intercooling. Like the old S55 twin-turbo I-6, the new engine is built upon BMW’s B58 engine architecture introduced five years ago.
The entry-level engine used in M3/M4 core models produces 48 additional horsepower over its predecessor for a maximum of 473 hp at 6,250 rpm, whereas the even more potent Competition version puts out 59 more hp for a max of 503, also at 6,250 rpm. Redline is a lofty 7,200 rpm, impressive unless comparing it to the 2007-2013 E90/E92/E93 M3 that stuffed an absolutely brilliant V8 behind its subtler grille, which easily wound up to 8,400 rpm and delivered an auditory sensation second to few.
The two M models’ quad of 100-millimetre diameter tailpipes should blat out an enticing soundtrack nonetheless, thanks in part to electrically opening/closing flaps controlled by an M Sound button. This lets drivers reduce exterior sound levels when driving through quiet neighbourhoods or merely wanting a more refined experience, or alternatively adding more sound when pushing the envelope, which requires opting for SPORT or SPORT+ modes.
Wire-arc sprayed cylinder liners lower friction and weight for a more free-revving engine, while a lightweight forged crankshaft reduces rotating mass further. Both are attached to a rigid closed-deck engine block, while the engine’s cylinder head boasts a 3D-printed core to provide better coolant flow-through along with less weight.
The core models’ torque rating is identical to the previous M3 and M4 at 406 lb-ft between 2,650 and 6,130 rpm, with Competition cars getting 73 lb-ft more for a new maximum of 479 lb-ft between 2,750 and 5,500 rpm.
In place of the core model’s standard six-speed manual gearbox, which features a rev-matching Gear Shift Assistant that makes any driver sound like a pro when downshifting, Competition model buyers need to accept BMW’s eight-speed M Steptronic automatic with Drivelogic. Drivelogic features three drive settings including “ROAD”, “SPORT” and “TRACK”, the latter only available after selecting the cars’ M Drive Professional setting. The autobox can be shifted with steering wheel paddles, which is par for the course in this class, but take note that it will remain in its chosen gear without automatically upshifting when in manual mode.
The M3 and M4 once again arrive standard with a rear-wheel drivetrain, although now new Competition trim can also be had with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive. The system is rear-wheel biased under normal conditions to promote BMW’s classic driving feel, but an Active M Differential apportions some of that torque to the front wheels when those in the rear experience slip.
When the aforementioned Sport mode is selected, however, additional power will be directed to the wheels in back for a more enjoyable driving experience, even so much that the rear end of the car will be able to slip sideways for some tail-wagging fun. This said, driving experts can shut off traction control entirely in order to utilize oversteer to their advantage. The M Traction Control system controls it all, with 10 different settings from near total intervention to wholly unchecked.
Considering the eyeball-pulling power of the new M3 and M4’s front grille design, you may not have noticed the longer wheels that extends 45 millimetres past the outgoing car’s axle separation, while it also includes slightly wider track for what should resulting in better ultimate road manners. A beautiful carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof panel is now standard, helping to lower the car’s overall centre of gravity. Lastly, the new M3 and M4 are weight-balanced front to rear ideally at 50/50.
If you think all good things happen in threes (or was that bad things?), the M3 and M4’s transmission isn’t the only component with preset driving settings. The cars’ chassis also gets three preset settings to optimize varying road conditions through an electronically-controlled Adaptive M suspension that features Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes. Together with a progressively stiffening setup, the M Servotronic steering system increases sharpness for better response, while 275/40ZR18 front and 285/35 ZR19 rear performance tires benefit core and Competition model handling with their rear-wheel drivetrains. Alternatively, all-wheel drive Competition trims get a set of 275/35ZR19s up front and 285/30ZR20s in back.
Braking performance has been enhanced to mirror the two M cars’ engine and suspension improvements too, with new six-piston fixed-caliper binders clamping down on 380 mm rotors in front and single-piston floating calipers biting into 370 mm discs at the rear. The brand’s M Carbon ceramic brakes are also available, featuring bigger 400 mm front and 380 mm rear rotors for even shorter stopping distances and reduced fade, enhanced thermal stability, and longer overall life. They’re easy to differentiate thanks to gold-painted calipers in place of standard blue or optional black or red. An electric “integrated braking” actuator helps improve braking response further, no matter which brakes are chosen.
Notably, the M Carbon ceramic brakes are available as a standalone option or as part of the M Race Track Package that also adds light-alloy wheels and lightweight M Carbon front seats. The M Drive Professional upgrade package, which comes standard on Competition models and is optional with core cars, features an M Drift Analyzer that records oversteer as well as opposite lock events, including the timed duration, line and drift angle. Your personal results are rated from one to five stars.
BMW Canada is promising 2021 M3 and M4 deliveries to start next spring, with pricing set to $84,300 for the sedan and $85,100 for the coupe (plus freight and fees), while pricing and details for the 2021 M4 Cabriolet should arrive sometime within now and then. Competition trim seems to be excellent value at just $4,000 extra, so therefore we think it will be most buyers’ first choice.
Just a final thought before signing off, anyone wanting the performance of the new M3 or M4 yet uncomfortable with the attention-getting grille might want to check the cars out in all-black trim. Sure it’ll be a scratch, dirt and dust magnet, but a photo of one that emerged as part of BMW’s simultaneous Performance Parts catalogue launch shows the four-door version in a much more appealing light. The digital catalogue promoted a Darth Sith-like red and black version too, which was even more over the top than the dayglow yellow and soylent green launch models, as were the counter table-sized rear wing and triangular quad of exhaust pipes. A white M4 wearing traditional M-striped BMW livery was pretty good looking though, so it appears some of the grille’s initial wow-factor can be downplayed with a subtler colour choice.
A significant coup for last month’s Canadian International Auto Show was the introduction of the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, a car rooted in the legendary brand’s racing heritage. The track-only Cayman, which was revealed in January at the Daytona International Speedway, made its first official motor show appearance at the Toronto event.
The updated 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is now in its second generation, the first arriving on the motorsport scene in 2016 sans “718” script on the rear deck lid. Unlike the previous version, the new GT4 Clubsport can be had in two forms: first as a “Trackday” car set up for “ambitious amateur racing drivers,” and second as “a ‘Competition’ variant for national and international motor racing,” the latter to notably be used for this year’s GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series.
Ahead of pointing out differences, both 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport models receive an updated version of the old 3.8-litre flat-six “boxer” engine, now good for 425 horsepower at 7,800 rpm, a 40-horsepower improvement over the previous 2016 car, while torque is now 4 lb-ft greater, to 313 lb-ft at 6,600 rpm.
Of note, this is the first six-cylinder 718 Cayman application since the car’s 2017 model year debut, due to the current 982-generation only using a turbocharged four-cylinder in various states of tune, causing some pundits to question whether a road-worthy Cayman with a horizontally opposed six-cylinder positioned just ahead of its rear axle will bolster the 718 Cayman ranks.
That new GT4 Clubsport flat-six, which feeds on 98 octane Super Plus unleaded gasoline, packs a 12.5:1 compression ratio, integrated dry sump lubrication, racing-optimized engine and transmission water cooling with thermal management, four-valve technology with adjustable camshaft phasing and VarioCam Plus variable valve timing, a racing-optimized Continental SDI 9 electronic engine management system, plus more.
Where the previous GT4 Clubsport shifted gears through a short-throw six-speed manual transmission, the new 718 version will solely utilize Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK automated gearbox, albeit with only six forward gears instead of the usual seven. The new model also features a reinforced dual mass flywheel, a racing-optimized electronic control unit, a racing-optimized mechanical rear axle differential lock, plus an internal pressure oil lubrication system boasting active oil cooling.
Additional modifications over road-going 718 Caymans include implementation of the 911 GT3 Cup car’s lightweight spring-strut front suspension; front and rear height, camber and track adjustable dampers; fixed shock absorbers with the Trackday car, or three-way racing shocks with rebound and two-stage high- and low-speed compression adjustment for the Competition; front and rear forged suspension links with optimized stiffness, double shear mountings, and high-performance spherical bearings; a three-hole design anti-roll bar up front; an adjustable blade-type anti-roll bar in the back; and five-bolt wheel hubs.
The new rims are single-piece forged light alloy wheels wearing a new “weight-optimized” design, and rolling on 25/64 front and 27/68 rear Michelin transportation rubber, while Michelin also supplies the slick/wet tires that measure 25/64-18 and 27/68-18 front and rear, too.
What’s more, behind those wheels and tires are racing-spec brakes that feature four multi-piece, ventilated and grooved steel discs measuring 380 millimetres in diameter, plus racing brake pads, aluminum mono-bloc six-piston front and four-piston rear racing calipers with “Anti Knock Back” piston springs, plus a brake booster with the Trackday version or brake balance adjustment via a balance bar system with the Competition model.
Despite the GT4 Clubsport’s factory-installed (FIA Art. 277 certified) safety cage, plus its 911 GT3-inspired front spoiler and sizeable fixed rear wing, which appear mostly carryover from the previous Clubsport, the race-spec Cayman weighs in at just 1,320 kilos, making it lighter than the outgoing model.
Mass in mind, the GT4 Clubsport’s body structure is comprised of aluminum-steel composite and therefore light in weight; while additional features include a hood and rear deck lid fastened in place via quick-release latches; an (FIA Art. 275a certified) escape hatch in the roof; an FT3 fuel safety cell that measures 80 litres with the Trackday or 115 litres with the Competition model, both featuring an FIA-compliant “Fuel Cut Off” safety valve; pre-installed mounting points for a three-piston air jack system for the Trackday, or a factory-installed three-piston air jack system with the Competition; and FIA-certified towing loops front and rear.
Also, a motorsport centre console with “enhanced functionality and adapted usability” gets added to the instrument panel, a six-point safety harness is included with its single Recaro race bucket driver’s seat, which also includes two-way fore and aft adjustments as well as an adjustable padding system, and lastly provisions are made for a safety net.
While safety is critical, and improving performance paramount for any new racing car, with Porsche having clearly claimed that its new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport improves overall drivability and therefore should provide faster lap times than its predecessor, it’s surprising that Porsche also put time and effort into its environmental initiatives, not normally a key issue in this class of sports car. The end result is a production-first racecar technology that could potentially find more widespread use: natural-fibre composite body parts.
The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport’s door skins and rear wing (specifically the wing flap, sideblades, and “swan neck” mounts) are actually formed from an organic fibre mix that’s sourced from agricultural by-products such as hemp or flax fibres. Porsche says the new age components weigh approximately the same as if made from carbon-fibre, while their strength is also similar.
Specific to each model, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday gets fixed shock absorbers, plus ABS, ESC, and traction control assistance systems for easier control at high speeds, the latter of which can all be deactivated. Improving comfort and safety respectively, the Trackday also includes air-conditioning and a handheld fire extinguisher, while it can be serviced at Porsche Centres throughout Canada.
You’ll need your own team of mechanics for the Competition model, however, and one of them will need to be well versed in three-stage shock adjustment, while you’ll need to figure out how to adjust the front/rear bias of the brake balance system yourself. Additionally, your pit stop team will be able to change the tires quickly thanks to its aforementioned integrated air jacks, and the larger safety fuel cell will make sure time off the track will be kept to a minimum.
Safety features not yet mentioned include an automated fire extinguishing system, and a quick release race steering wheel pulled from the 911 GT3 R.
Priced considerably higher than a street legal 718 Cayman, which starts at just $63,700, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday model can be had for $216,500, whereas the same car with the Competition package starts at $242,000.
Interested parties should contact Porsche Motorsport North America in Carson, California, or alternatively your local Porsche retailer, which no doubt would be happy to put you in touch.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press