• 2015 BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car

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Full disclosure: This article on BMW’s stunning, new M4 MotoGP Safety Car (or "Pace Car," if you’re American) contain references to the German WWII Focke-Wulf 190 fighter. You know, I love BMW as much as anyone, and generally avoid bringing up certain historical associations because of that... But with the Bavarians set to once again bomb around Europe on the power of water injection, there’s kind of no ignoring this snarling Wulf in the room. Read our full review of the 2015 M4 here.

Click "Continue Reading" to learn more about the 2015 BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car.

  • 2015 BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    4.1 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    75000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

In most ways, Bimmer’s MotoGP pace car is a pretty standard M4 coupe — which is far from the slight it sounds like. For those who haven’t heard, a couple years ago BMW announced it would be splitting the 3 Series model line in two. Four-door cars would continue to carry the legendary "3," purely on the basis that the 3 Series made its name as a practical sports sedan. The coupe and convertible models were the toys in the range, and never really fit well with the 3 Series’ understated image. Thus, in the 2014 model year, coupes and convertibles split off to become the 4 Series.

The M4, then, represents the baddest of the company’s midsized toys. With extensive use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, the 3,300-pound M4 is a lightweight by modern standards. And the chassis is stiff enough that the convertible model (despite having a power-folding roof) is a full 90 pounds lighter than its 3 Series predecessor. Combined with a 430-horse, turbocharged inline-six, a dual-clutch transmission and upgraded suspension and tires, the M4 came out of the factory near race-ready. Or, ready enough to keep packs of impatiently snarling MotoGP bikes at bay while circling the fastest tracks in the world.

But pace cars are and always have been showpieces. That means at a minimum an eye-catching paint job, which as you can see BMW has handled quite brilliantly. No question this "M-colors on Black" paint scheme makes this one of the better-looking pace cars I’ve seen. The rear wing I’m not so sure about. Somehow, in this paint scheme, with that wing, the M4 pace car looks weirdly like a Nissan GT-R in profile. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a bit...odd. Germany and Japan must be designing on the same axis these days. Makes you wonder about Italy.

And that brings us neatly to the most interesting part of this showpiece, which is hidden so far under the engine that BMW made a video to convince us that it exists.

Water Injection

This idea might seem a bit odd to those not familiar with turbocharging, but water injection has a long history.

Turbochargers and superchargers are air compressors; they make power by shoving air into an engine under pressure, which packs the oxygen molecules closer together and thereby allows the engine to burn more fuel. For turbcharged engines, the end result is somewhere around 7 to 12 percent more horsepower per psi of boost. More or less.

Compressing air causes it to heat up, because all of the thermal energy in that air gets squeezed into a smaller space. Hot air in a cylinder causes detonation, or an uncontrolled "explosion" of fuel. This detonation is the No. 1 killer of turbo- and super-charged engines, which is why they have to run high-octane fuel, an "intercooler" to cool the compressed air down, or both. Even after all of that, most pressurized engines also require more fuel in the cylinders simply to catch some of the heat and take it out of the exhaust pipe in unburned droplets.

And, yes: That seems to makes about as much sense as treating heat stroke with hot sauce.

But engineers long ago figured out that they could solve the detonation problem by spraying a mist of water into the intake tract, between the intercooler and the engine. That had the two-fold benefit of cooling the air (which made it denser and more oxygen rich for more power) and cooling the cylinders to prevent detonation. Often times, they mixed water 50-50 with a soluble fuel called methanol. The high-octane methanol added even more power by burning in the cylinders, acting something like a shot of nitrous does today. Methanol-water injection is still used on many turbo- and supercharged race cars today, particularly on the blistering salt flats of Bonneville.

FUN FACT: You can actually buy pre-mixed water-methanol solutions at your local auto parts store; they sell it as freeze-resistant windshield washer fluid.

Ride of the Valkyries

In it MotoGP pace car, BMW uses distilled water. Even without the methanol, the water’s anti-detonant qualities make for a denser charge and higher effective boost, increasing power by 8 percent to 460 horsepower and 438 foot-pounds of torque. In full go-fast mode and under hard driving, the engine consumes nearly as much water as it does fuel — due partly to the fact that it uses less fuel to go fast.

In slightly different tune, this same system would also reduce fuel consumption and decrease emissions on the street. That hasn’t been lost on BMW, which has stated explicitly that this system will see production very soon. On the street, in grocery-getter mode, BMW expects you’ll need to refill the water tank about every five fuel stops, which seems pretty reasonable.

The only question at this point is how long it will take Dinan or M to release a computer-tune-and-seal kit that will allow you to run methanol-enriched windshield-washer fluid instead of distilled water. There’s no reason it couldn’t happen, and an upgrade like that would be about the cheapest hundred-plus horsepower ever added to a BMW. The Bavarian’s system is certainly refined enough to handle it. Of course, it should be, considering how long BMW’s been using water injection.

Here it comes.

Back in 1939, BMW produced what some consider to be its most successful engine design: a 14-cylinder, twin-row radial aircraft engine making upward of 2,000 horsepower. This "801" engine quickly found a home in the nose of the legendary Focke-Wulf 190; an aircraft which many pilots on both sides say was the single best fighter of the war.

In a bid to increase speed, altitude and range, BMW designed both supercharged and turbocharged versions of the 801 engine. The resulting powerplant made power at a high altitude that no Allied engine could even approach. So, it’s probably a good thing for us that the war ended before either of those engines made it into full production. It’s fortunate also that BMW never lost the plans for the turbocharged 801’s water injection system — a direct predecessor of the system used here.

That said, I’m not going to call BMW’s turbocharged, water-injected M4 "The 1945 Focke-Wulf 190." I {}could say that, but I won’t.

I will simply and silently hope that, when this beautiful M4 shows up as the safety car in Silverstone, nothing goes down in flames.

Richard Rowe
Richard Rowe
About the author

Press Release

The 2015 season marks the 17th season of BMW M as “Official Car of MotoGP”. Ever since 1999, MotoGP organiser Dorna Sports has been able to rely on a dependable partner in the form of BMW M when it comes to ensuring the highest possible degree of safety at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. This successful partnership has grown consistently over the years. Last autumn, Dorna Sports and BMW M Division extended its cooperation up to and including 2020. This means we will be able to celebrate the 20th anniversary of BMW M in MotoGP in 2019. We are proud of this partnership, which spans over decades and is extremely rare in international, high-performance sports.

2015 BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car High Resolution Exterior
- image 616841

BMW M has always been synonymous with technological innovations, and we are delighted to be able to present another new highlight this year: in the near future, BMW M Division will begin production of a model featuring water injection. Water injection is a system designed to increase the performance and reduce the consumption of combustion engines. We will be using this technology in the BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car for the 2015 season for the first time.

When it comes to leading a field of high-performance racing prototypes safely in any conditions, technology gleaned from the world of motorsport and innovative ideas are indispensable. That is precisely why BMW M is the "most powerful letter in the world". The new water injection is just one example of this. Outstanding driving properties and impressive performance parameters – this is what allows our high-performance automobiles to master any challenge, whether on the racetrack or in everyday use.

2015 BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car High Resolution Interior
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Millions of fans around the world are captivated by MotoGP. Therefore, it provides us with an outstanding opportunity to present our brand, technology and products to an international audience that is enthusiastic about racing. As well as providing a Safety Car fleet featuring the latest BMW M high-performance models, our commitment to MotoGP also includes many other activities. The BMW M Award, which was presented for the first time in 2003, is a much sought-after accolade among the world’s top motorcyclists. The BMW M MotoGP Experience and our BMW M MotoGP Experts allow us to offer our guests an unforgettable weekend of racing with an exclusive insight into what goes on behind the scenes. As if this were not enough, fans at racetracks around the world also have the opportunity to discover the wide world of BMW M at close hand.

2015 BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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This Media Guide offers you an informative overview of our partnership with Dorna Sports and our commitment to MotoGP, as well as the history of BMW M Division and the company’s extensive range of products. Should you have any further queries, it goes without saying that we are only too happy to help. I hope you have an exciting 2015 season!

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