BMW is looking at a new M model below the M3, according to highly placed sources from inside the firm’s M division, who suggest the new car has been favoured over a BMW supercar.
Based on the next-gen 1-series, the new car will be designed to introduce younger customers to new M cars. It would compete with cars such as the next-generation Audi S3, with pricing starting at around £32,000.
“We’re conscious that our existing customers are gravitating towards larger and more expensive models such as the X5/X6 M,” said an M division source. “We’re looking at ways to attract new customers to the brand, and an entry-level model is part of those plans.”
Among the new car’s biggest backers is newly installed BMW M division boss Kay Segler. The former head of brand management at Mini, he has experience with fast, compact two-doors: he oversaw the introduction of the Mini Cooper S and Cooper S Works.
Asked whether BMW’s M division was considering producing a sports car to go up against the Audi R8, Mercedes SLS and Porsche’s 911 Turbo, Autocar’s source said, “Such a project would fit nicely with our operations and would be greatly accepted by the engineers. But the priority right now is a more affordable model underneath the M3.”
The car is likely to be based on the next 135i, meaning it will use a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six producing around 330bhp. And BMW may well revive the M1 badge for the car.