To commemorate its M Motorsport division's 50th anniversary, BMW is readying a long list of performance models for its global line-up. These will include some of the most powerful combustion-engined models and its first pure-electric sports cars.
- BMW M will introduce its third-gen EV platform from 2025
- Over 1.6 lakh BMW M cars sold last year
- Upcoming M7 hybrid could replace the M760Li V12 sedan
BMW M at 50: major updates planned
As it hits 50 this year, M division is on the cusp of a transformative era that will see it phase out its range of petrol-powered coupes, saloons and SUVs to replace them with high-powered electric alternatives, in line with BMW’s pledge to ramp up EV production.
From 2025, the firm will usher in its third-generation EVs atop the all-new Neue Klasse platform, which will be entirely scalable for deployment in cars equivalent in size to both the 2 Series and X7. The platform is also capable of hosting PHEV powertrains and hydrogen fuel cell systems – it will replace the FAAR and CLAR structure in use across BMW’s line-up – but not before those architectures have hosted an array of sporting models from M division.
Last year, M sold over 1,60,000 cars to become the world’s best-selling performance sub-brand. Here’s what they’ve got in the works.
New M2 Competition
Perhaps the most keenly anticipated and highest-profile introduction on BMW’s agenda for this year is the G87-generation M2, which will take the formula of the acclaimed first-generation car and uprate it across the board to strengthen its position as a leader in the sports coupé segment.
The reinvented Porsche 718 Cayman rival is due to go on sale overseas by the end of the year, which means a global reveal is only months away. The second-generation 2 Series coupe which is on sale overseas, on which it is based, gets rear-wheel drive as standard in non-performance models, and a four-wheel-drive M240i, which packs 369hp and 500Nm.
Power for the M240i comes from BMW’s B58 straight six, but the M2 will use a variant of the more highly strung S58 found in the larger M3 and M4. It will endow the M2 with up to 430hp in top-flight Competition guise. Expect the 0-100kph time to come down closer to the four-second mark as a result.
New M3 Touring (Wagon)
The BMW M3, currently in its 36th year of production and sixth iteration, has not yet been made available in Touring guise, despite being sold alongside the standard 3 Series estate since its launch abroad. Now, however, M division is nearing completion of the first-ever M3 Touring, which is tipped to arrive in the next few months and will be among the quickest and most potent wagons cars on sale.
The vertically oriented grille from the M3 and M4 is carried over – a departure from the horizontal face worn by the standard Touring, and flared arches, competition alloys and quad-exit exhausts will help separate it from other angles.
It will use the S58 straight-six engine, but, like the M3 saloon, will pack in 503hp Competition form and, despite around 80kg of extra weight, is expected to broadly match that car’s performance stats, with the potential to shade the V6-powered Audi RS4 Avant.
While the M3 gets a more practical wagon option, the M4 coupe will be offered in a hardcore track-focused guise, with enhanced performance and dynamics – and it could revive the hallowed CSL nameplate.
As with the original E9-generation 3.0 CSL (for Coupe Sport Leichtbau, or lightweight), the exclusive M4 range-topper is expected to be heavily uprated, joining the similarly conceived M5 CS in pursuit of faster lap times and segment-leading performance.
It will pick up where the previous-generation M4 GTS left off and can be expected to adopt a similarly outlandish aero package, Alcantara-intensive interior, sportier suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes and lightweight body panels.
A power hike is also on the cards to further differentiate it from the M4 Competition, potentially courtesy of modifications derived from the M4 GT3 racer, which makes 582hp from its 3.0-litre engine.
XM full-size performance SUV
The XM is only the second bespoke model from M division, but it is poles apart from the mid-engined M1 supercar that spearheaded M’s push into road cars in the late 1970s.
Like that car, the XM will kick-start a radical new era for Munich’s performance brand, being the first model in the division’s portfolio to adopt a plug-in hybrid powertrain. As previewed by last year’s Concept XM, this will take the form of a petrol-electric system built around the firm’s venerable 4.4-litre V8, as used by the M5.
With a single electric motor boosting its combined reserves to 740hp and 990Nm, it is set to be the most powerful road car BMW has yet produced, and while it is likely to weigh well over two tonnes, it will also be among the fastest. A projected electric range of 50 miles from a battery of over 20kWh in capacity will also give the XM one of the longest engine-off ranges of any BMW PHEV.
The production car, tipped to be revealed towards the end of this year, will largely retain the outlandish exterior styling and radical new interior treatment shown on the concept, which hints at a stylistic shift for BMW M’s electrified cars. The next-generation M5, however, which will use a variation of the V8 PHEV drivetrain, will be more traditionally styled when it arrives in 2023.
I7 M60 full-size luxury performance sedan
The top-rung M version of the all-new and all-electric i7 saloon will be introduced alongside the eighth-generation 7 Series later this year.
BMW’s answer to the Mercedes-Benz EQS will share its CLAR platform and fifth-generation eDrive powertrain with the new iX SUV. That means it will be available in performance-oriented M60 guise, with a twin-motor set-up giving 611hp and 1094Nm for a sub-four-second 0-100kph time and a top speed of around 250kph – figures that will make the M60 the quickest 7 Series yet produced.
The model’s dynamic credentials will be bolstered by a wheel-slip limitation function and M-tuned self-levelling air suspension, while an array of M-specific displays, sounds and colour schemes, as well as a raft of extra equipment as standard, will help mark it out from the standard i7.
High-power PHEV could form basis for first-ever M7
BMW has yet to announce a full-fat M version of its largest saloon, but the XM and next-gen M5 are unlikely to be the only models in the portfolio to use the new electrified V8, meaning an M7 hybrid with supercar levels of power and pace could become reality.
Such a model would serve as a direct rival to Mercedes-AMG’s upcoming S63 E Performance – itself a rapid luxury saloon with an electrified V8 – and in effect replace the V12-engined M760i, which finally goes out of production later this year.
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