Here’s an interesting factoid: did you know that the man who managed the engine development programme for the original E30 BMW M3 is now batting for the opposition? That’s Audi, I hasten to add. Wolfgang Hatz is his name, and I met him this weekend, just after driving the R8 V12 TDi concept.
He’s a thoroughly nice bloke (despite appearances in this rather twee Audi press photo) and at the same time a bit of a motor industry legend. After leaving BMW in the late 1980s, he went to work for Porsche and worked on the 964 RSR, among other projects. After that, he had a spell in race engineering, both for Porsche and General Motors, and then went off to Italy, to be responsible for Alfa Romeo engines, and ultimately all of Fiat Group engines. Then, seven years ago, he decided to make the move back to Germany, and is now responsible for all VW Group engines.
He’s a connected feller. His boss is Ferdinand Piech, he’s best mates with Wolfgang Rietzle, a friend of Luca de Montezemolo – in short, he is the sort of bloke that you wish you could sit next to every Saturday night at dinner; a real dyed-in-the-wool car enthusiast, whose conversational titbits are dining-out fodder for months to come.
So do you think it would bother M-power aficionados to know that the man responsible for arguably the finest performance engine that BMW has ever produced now prefers diesels? To be bluntly honest, it upset me a bit. Here’s how Hatz rationalises it: