Words: Don Cheng
Published: July 26, 2019
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario - When it comes to building a reputation, some brands simply fair better than others. Take Ferrari for example. It’s a household name that has been seared into our minds as something elusive, expensive, and of course, fast. Similarly so with Lamborghini. Yet despite their ostensibly divine manufacturing using alloys of unobtanium, when you think about the Ultimate Driving Machine, many see a blue and white roundel instead. In fact, there are few in the automotive industry that command the quiet revere that BMW has built with their M cars, and the folks from Bavaria sure as hell know it.
To celebrate the brand’s storied heritage, vibrant community of owners, and unique product offering, the inaugural BMW M Festival was born alongside the 24 hours of Nurburgring in 2011. Since then, the event has grown into a global movement having popped up in South Africa, China, USA, and now for the first time, in Canada.
With over 4,000 tickets sold, the weekend long celebrations offered guests an eclectic mix of track events, capped with live entertainment by Felix Cartal, Serena Ryder (Saturday), and Dear Rouge and Jane’s Party (Sunday). There were plenty of hands-on activities to cover asphalt to offroad fun. A sample of BMW’s X vehicles were available for a spin around an off-road course. New M-Performance vehicles like the M340i, Z4 M40i, and X2 M35i were available to push your limits in the autocross track. And for the thrill seekers, a drag race in the marquee’s newest grand tourer, the M850i. Stepping things up a notch was a lead-follow session through the smaller DDT track in an M2 Competition.
That’s a lot of driving, and to cap it all off and to remind you that you’re far from a pro, BMW offered hot laps around the Grand Prix track with one of their factory drivers in a brand new M5 Competition. There’s nothing quite like clipping 240 km/h on the back straight, only to abruptly drop down to 120 km/h for a fast sweeping right turn to remind you of the sheer mettle these drivers face. But also a stark reminder that these M cars aren’t cut from the same loins as BMW’s other offerings, as demonstrated in the M2 Competition, my favourite part of the day. The S55 twin-turbo straight-six pulled from the M3 feels at home nestled under the M2’s hood. The 405 horses are delivered exclusively to the rear wheels through a 7-speed DCT as well. Out on the track, the coupe was in its element, carving corners and dancing through off camber twists.
It’s without a doubt that the first-ever Canadian M Festival was a success. With miles of entertainment, and the chance to hop behind your latest M vehicle, it really is a festival for BMW enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Be sure not to miss it next year when the M Festival returns in the summer of 2020.