BMW’s M performance car division will expand its line-up with more M Performance and full-blown M models that span the entire range – from the new M135i xDrive to a 600bhp version of the upcoming X8 SUV. M division also plans to top its line-up and showcase its engineering prowess with a bespoke mid-engined coupé based on the Vision M Next.
That arresting new concept points to a high-tech hybrid future at BMW M. However, significant restructuring measures have already been put in place to ensure the long-term competitiveness of more volume-selling M models against a growing number of rivals from Audi Sport, Jaguar SVO, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche.
BMW M’s wide-ranging engineering programme is ensuring a quick ramp-up of its model portfolio under a plan originally initiated by former M division CEO Frank van Meel and carried through under the watch of his successor, Markus Flasch.
Recognition of this comes in the quartet of new M models already launched in 2019: the X3 M, X4 M, M8 Coupé and M8 Convertible. On top of this, BMW M has also introduced the new M135i xDrive and X2 M35i at the bottom end of its range.
In a development that harks back to its formative days and the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed M1, BMW M is also looking at proposals for unique limited-run M models inspired by the Vision M Next concept, with a convertible version under consideration alongside the planned ‘reborn M1’ coupé.
“We are investigating M variants that may also be stand-alone, that don’t have a predecessor,” Flasch said at the launch of the BMW X3 M and X4 M when questioned on the future of the company.
On top of this, BMW M also plans to expand its number of hardcore CS models, starting with the new M2 CS in 2020.
A key driving force in BMW’s decision to build on its current number of M models is the company’s R&D boss, Klaus Fröhlich, who once led the engineering at Land Rover and has been a member of the BMW board since 2014.
In an about-turn on the current M model strategy, plans have now been approved for a new four-wheel-drive four-cylinder 1 Series with up to 400bhp, Autocar has learnt. The hot new model will go up against the strong-selling Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45, as well as the upcoming Volkswagen Golf R Plus.