IT’S unusual to hear a German, particularly one who works for a car company like BMW’s M Division, admitting publicly to being wrong.
But Frank Isenberg, who headed the BMW 1 Series M Coupe’s development and has given birth to its replacement, the M2, comes close.
“We learned a lot from the 1M, we improved it [with the BMW M2],” he says.
“The tricky behaviour at the limit, that was what we were not really happy with. But it just happened.
“We had a very short development time, it was the first time that we used a turbocharged engine with a lot of torque, and with all this put together, maybe we could have used a year more development.”
Isenberg also admits the stability-control systems on the 1M were “not that sophisticated”. He says the M2 is a big step ahead, and allows you to slide around, in M Dynamic Mode, without being terrified.
“The last car, the suspension was also stiffer - I wouldn’t say it was wrong, but it wasn’t the best set up,” he adds.
“But we did it because we wanted the car to have a special character, which it did, and you know everyone is always saying stiffer is better, but the fact is it can be too much and you start to lose traction.
“You can feel safe in this new car, and confident in this car, you can go up to the limit without being afraid, it’s not as tricky. It’s less intimidating.”
While Isenberg believes a lot of purists will still buy the manual, he says the software that runs the DCT in its sportier modes is now so good that the fastest way to tackle a circuit like the challenging Laguna Seca, where the car was launched, is to not even use the paddles.
“The quickest way around the track is to use the Sport+ mode and let it shift for you,” he says.
“With the double clutch transmission, if you are on the brake, the gearbox shifts back better than you would do.
“You might do it three or four times perfect, but the fifth and sixth time, whoops. But the car does it always the same. It’s better. And it will let you rev up to 7000rpm.”