2018 BMW M5, 2017 Los Angeles Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
BMW won't be short on M Performance models in the near future after a new report from Autocar published on Thursday revealed plans for 26 new or refreshed cars by 2020. The long list of new M Performance cars, which will expand outside thoroughbred M vehicles, will help BMW retaliate against a slew of Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport products.
The report said the next-generation M3 will lead the charge with a 2019 debut, potentially at the Frankfurt motor show. The plan's architect, Frank van Meel, head of BMW’s performance car division, called the M3 a cornerstone for the M division and cast the car as a guiding light forward for M Performance cars.
"(The M3) continues to stand for everything the brand is based upon," he said. BMW poached the executive from Audi in 2014, where he ran Audi Sport, formerly Quattro.
BMW's next M3 will reportedly not go hybrid as previous reports have suggested. Instead, an upgraded version of BMW M’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-6 engine will power the car. Better news: a 6-speed manual is on the table, as is an 8-speed automatic transmission. Power may rise to 472 horsepower with the upgrades, and the M3 will not offer BMW's latest xDrive all-wheel-drive system, per the report's sources.
With the M3 holding down the fort, 15 M Performance cars will continue development, including versions of the X2 and forthcoming X7. Current M Performance models include the M240i, M550i xDrive, M760i, and X4 M40i xDrive. These models aren't as sporting as true M cars, but they do have additional power, sporty suspensions, and upgraded brakes.
These models should not be confused with BMW's M Sport models, which have M design cues but no extra power. For instance, the M Sport components on a 330i include an M sport suspension, unique 18-inch wheels, Shadowline exterior trim, an aero kit, a sunroof, satellite radio, an M steering wheel, keyless access and starting, and lumbar support adjustments. That'll improve performance, but only a bit.
Have no fear, though, because BMW has 11 new true M cars cooking as well. Among them are the X3, X4, Z4, and new 8-Series. That brings our grand total of M cars to the aforementioned total of 26.
While M Performance handles more mid-range cars, M will also take its talents to the top with more track-focused models. It began with the M4 CS, but an M3 CS will soon join the range. Next year, the report's sources added an M2 CS will arrive as well.