It looks like BMW M has big ambitions for its division, with plans to expand its line-up with more M Performance and M models that span the entire BMW product range. According to an Autocar report, everything from the M135i xDrive to a hot 600-hp version of the upcoming X8 SUV will get the magic M touch. Also in the pipeline is a bespoke, electrified mid-engine coupe based on the Vision M Next, so there’s really no shortage of muscle-flexing here.
The report adds that significant restructuring measures have been put in place to ensure the long-term competitiveness of popular M models, especially considering the growing number of rivals, notably from Mercedes-AMG, Audi Sport, Jaguar SVO, and Porsche. The move is said to be a quick ramp-up of a plan that was originally laid out by former M boss Frank van Meel, but is now under the watchful eye of his successor, Markus Flasch.
It’s not a future plan. In fact, it’s already set in motion – the recently launched X3 M, X4 M, M8 Coupe and M8 Convertible are part of the expansion programme, and so are the M135i xDrive and X2 M35i. BMW M also plans to introduce more hardcore CS models, starting with the M2 CS next year.
Could the BMW Vision M Next concept be the direct successor of the iconic M1?
At this point, you must be wondering how BMW plans to take on the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A 45. Autocar reported that plans for an even hotter 1 Series, one that could potentially make 400 hp from a four-cylinder petrol engine, have been approved. At launch, the range-topping model will be positioned above the existing M135i (302 hp, 420 Nm), and goes head to head against the upcoming Volkswagen Golf R Plus.
Other than that, the Vision M Next, which is tipped to be the reborn M1 coupe, could also be had as a convertible. The folks at BMW M are also looking at proposals for unique limited-edition M models inspired by the Vision M Next. “We are investigating M variants that may also be standalone, that don’t have a predecessor,” Flasch told the press at the X3 M and X4 M launch.
At the other end of the spectrum, a new range-topping X8 M model has been conceived, and will take on the likes of the Audi RS Q8, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe Turbo. On the other hand, M Performance models will continue to be powered by retuned versions of standard BMW engines, of which will include petrol, diesel, and petrol plug-in hybrid guises.
Meanwhile, full-blown M cars will either get a 2.0 litre four banger, an updated 3.0 litre straight six, or a new 4.0 litre V8. These engines are said to form a modular base for all dedicated M models, much like Mercedes-AMG’s strategy, except maybe minus the one man, one engine philosophy. This allows greater economies of scale and speeds up the development process.
The G80 BMW M3 and M4 – set to be released in 2020 – will continue to be powered by a 3.0 litre inline-six, albeit with revisions to facilitate a decent bump in output. Apparently, the engine will be able to produce over 500 hp. Both models may be offered with a manual transmission, and xDrive all-wheel drive could be an option as well, insiders say.
Besides that, selected M Performance and M cars could benefit from BMW’s petrol-hybrid powertrains. Although not confirmed, engineering sources reveal that there are plans to establish a two-tier line-up of hybrid powertrains. Anyone excited about this? Well, you’ve got BMW’s R&D boss, Klaus Fröhlich to thank.