In London to mark the world launch of BMW's M6 cabriolet, M division President Ulrich Bruhnke gives his thoughts on where the purist's Beemers are now - and where they might go in future.
Where do you see M at the moment?We are incredibly busy right now. If you think, a few years ago our entire model range was three cars. Now we are generally launching three new cars every year. So here at London we have the M6 convertible and obviously for next year we are already working on the next M3.
Tell us about the M3. Obviously it moves up to a V8 and there are already concerns that this will increase the weight considerably. Is this a problem?Look at it this way - the same people had concerns when we launched M5 with a V10 instead of a V8. And do you know what the weight difference was? One kilo! So I do not think that will be a problem for us.
How do you manage to keep the weight down, then - if the engine has two more cylinders and there is more safety equipment on board etc?We started with the M3 CSL to work a lot with carbon fibre - in fact, the M3 CSL allowed us to build the M6 because it proved the materials and processes could work. We are always pushing for the next step in technology and we will continue to do that with the next M3.
Will there be a four-door version? It was a popular choice before in the UKThat decision has not been taken. But I would like to have one.
Is it true that you're building a manual M5 for the American market?Yes, but that is a very perculiar demand from that market. We are telling customers, 'It's a six-speed gearbox and it's not as quick to use as the seven-speed SMG but if you want it, enjoy it.
In the longer term, we see Lexus working on a V8 saloon to rival the M3 and even possibly a V10 supercar. We've seen rumours of a BMW supercar before - is that something that M would be involved in, and is it a possibility?I would like to do a supercar, yes. I'm sure we would be able to do that if we were asked to. No decision has been taken on that but I'm sure our engineers would be able to design such a car. The discussions about a super sportscar help to keep the fire burning, I think. As for Lexus, they produce a good product but with a different characteristic to ours. We produce a product for our customers, not against our competitors.