BMW will be doubling down on its range of performance vehicles for our market. In addition to the M models, the German automaker will also be increasing its focus on the M Performance brand. Commenting on the future of M Performance in India, Vikram Pawah, president, BMW Group India, told Autocar India in an exclusive interview, “We’ve got a fantastic line-up of that coming through.” And of the spicier models on the cards, you can expect the M Performance versions of the 3 Series sedan and X3 SUV to make the cut.
- M340i xDrive sedan and X3 M40i xDrive SUV likely to be launched in India
- BMW to increase localisation of its M Performance range
- India launch of full-blooded M4 also confirmed
BMW to bring more M Performance models to India
For the uninitiated, M Performance (or M-lite) vehicles sit a rung below the full-blown M models in BMW’s sporty line-up. “We’ve got two sets in our performance range. We call one as the ‘full performance range’, and the other as the ‘performance-lite range’,” said Pawah. He added, “The M Performance brand, or the ‘M-lite brand’, is within our regular range of products. We introduce the M versions within that of, let’s say, the X3 or 3 Series. You will see us doing more of that, sooner or later.” As such, the M340i sedan and X3 M40i SUV can be expected for an India launch in the coming future.
BMW already has a few models from its M Performance line-up on sale in India, including the Z4 M40i roadster, the X7 M50d SUV and the M760Li sedan. However, Pawah mentioned that customer demand has spurred the company to bring in more such models, moving forward. “We are seeing a lot of demand from people who want the performance, but don’t want to go all the way to the full M model. They want the flavour of M, but still want the basic things in a normal run car.”
M Performance models to be locally assembled in India
A stronger focus on a sportier line-up will also see BMW locally assemble some of its M Performance models in India. “You will see a lot of localisation of that happening,” confirmed the company head.
Though he declined to comment further, we expect a greater localisation in the engine department as well. BMW’s 3.0-litre, straight-six petrol engine in the 40i guise could be a worthy candidate for more localisation. In addition to the upcoming M340i and X3 M40i, the powertrain appears in a number of other BMW models in our market, like the 7 Series sedan, 8 Series Gran Coupe, X5, X6 and X7 SUVs, and the aforementioned Z4.
BMW’s latest decision will also put it on a more equal footing with Mercedes-Benz, which recently announced local assembly efforts for its AMG performance brand, starting with the AMG GLC 43 Coupe that was launched recently.
Moreover, BMW remains bullish about the prospects of the Indian market. “We have already localised roughly 50 percent of our production in India, and we did that in anticipation of volume growth. Obviously, volumes have taken a setback with COVID and few other things, but we still expect them to bounce back really strong, sooner or later,” said Pawah.
Though the luxury segment currently comprises of just 1-1.2 percent of the total Indian passenger vehicle market, the BMW head expects that to improve. “We believe that the long-term demand potential in India is phenomenal. India unlocking has to happen at some point. It cannot be sitting at 1.2 percent of the total market, the luxury segment has to come up to the 5-6 percent level, and the viability comes from that theory. So, we have always invested ahead of time – we invested in our plant ahead of time and we've invested in localisation ahead of time,” he said.
A look at the M340i and X3 M40i
Based on the regular 3 Series sedan, the M340i xDrive packs in a 374hp, 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine and an all-wheel-drive setup. In comparison, the standard rear-wheel-drive sedan is available in our market with a pair of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines – a 258hp petrol (330i) and a 190hp diesel (320d).
In addition to the engine, the M340i gets more aggressive looks and upgraded brakes, suspension, differential and exhaust. Expect prices to be higher than the regular 3 that is retailed at Rs 42.60-49.90 lakh (ex-showroom, India).
The BMW X3 M40i xDrive.
Powered by the same engine as the souped-up sedan, the X3 M40i xDrive puts out 360hp and packs in a similar set of mechanical and cosmetic upgrades. It will be positioned above the standard X3 30i and 20d variants in our market (Rs 61.80-62.50), but below the all-out 480hp X3 M SUV (Rs 99.90 lakh) (all prices, ex-showroom, India).
M4 India-bound as well
The BMW M4.
The BMW India boss also confirmed plans for the full-blooded version of the standard 4 Series. “The full-blown M4 will come to India,” he said.
Slated to be “coming in soon”, the M4 will expand the M line-up that is said to have an increasing appeal amongst buyers. “We’ve been growing that segment quite dramatically over the last couple of years with the introduction of new products. So that is obviously expanding the market. Yes, it’s a niche segment. It’s a segment where only fans of M cars normally buy them, but we see more and more people getting attracted to that,” said Pawah.
Coming to the firepower, the M4 packs in a twin-turbocharged, straight-six petrol engine that belches out 480hp in standard guise and 510hp in Competition form. An 8-speed automatic gearbox is available with both versions. 0-100kph time is pegged at 4.2sec for the ‘regular’ M4, with the Competition edition being 0.3sec quicker.