BMW is making a habit of turning some of its lowest-profile models into race cars. Despite its good looks and sporty pedigree, it’s surprisingly easy to forget about the BMW Z4, until you see one of the racing versions screaming around Lime Rock or Daytona.
It’s the purest form of race-based marketing, and a phenomenon BMW hopes to repeat with the M6 GT3. The M6 is an aging model, but when the GT3 racer debuts next month at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, it’s likely to get a little more attention from car fans.
BMW announced the M6 GT3 back in October, and a steady stream of leaks and teasers followed. The car’s camouflaged silhouette is already pretty familiar, but BMW promises to peel away that camouflage soon. The company says the endurance race at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps was the last major outing for the current Z4 GT3, and that the M6 will take over next season.
Like the Z4 GT3, the M6 GT3 will be heavily modified to withstand the abuse of racing and still put on a winning performance. It’s the latest entry in the FIA-sanctioned GT3 class of modified road cars that already includes everything from Lamborghini Hurucán to Bentley Continental GT racers.
The M6 GT3 will feature a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 that BMW says is only slightly changed from the version used in the stock M6. In racing form, it produces up to 585 horsepower. That’s 15 hp more than the standard M6, but 7 hp less than models equipped with the optional Competition Package.
However, the GT3 racer is a much svelter 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds), a result of stripping away all of the luxuries and leaving only necessities like a carbon-fiber crash structure and FIA-approved safety cell for the driver.
All of that will come at a cost of 379,000 euros (about $413,000) in Europe. That may seem like a lot, but BMW claims the M6 GT3 will actually be one of the most economical cars in its class, with powertrain running costs roughly 30 percent lower compared to the outgoing Z4 GT3. U.S. pricing will be announced at a later date.
In addition to European GT3 races, the Z4 currently competes in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge on this side of the Atlantic. Expect the M6 to appear here in those series as well.