Aimed at drivers seeking a sporty driving experience, the BMW M Performance Automobiles will offer exclusive engine variants, enhanced agility and precision, plus sharper design.
Like all M cars, it's claimed the engine output, power transfer, chassis technology and aerodynamic balance will provide a showcase for the familiar M genes.
The BMW M Performance Automobiles will be presented to the public for the first time at the International Geneva Motor Show 2012 which takes place from March 8-18.
The new range is pointing back to models such as the BMW M535i, which was unveiled in 1980 and captured the imagination of performance-minded customers with its extra power, tuned chassis and modified design. As an addition to the BMW 5 Series ranks, the M535i remained a successful member of the line-up through two model generations and sat alongside the M5 until it was canceled. "Our aim with the BMW M Performance Automobiles is to continue this tradition," confirmed Dr Friedrich Nitschke, President of BMW M GmbH.
The BMW M Performance Automobiles will represent a new model category. "We are targeting customers looking for more emotion and performance, but who don't want to lose the daily usability of their cars," said Nitschke. He went on to explain that the range would include "a wide variety of model series, as well as both gasoline and diesel-engined variants". All-wheel drive BMW xDrive models would also play a role in the BMW M Performance Automobiles, he added.
One reason for this new departure is that 2011 was one of the most successful years for BMW M GmbH since the separate company was founded.
In addition to the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, which marked M's first foray into the compact segment, late last year also saw the introduction of the new BMW M5. The arrival of the BMW M Performance Automobiles in 2012 will also feature the world premiere of the new BMW M6.
From a purist perspective, this could be seen as further dumbing-down the M brand, which once stood as a unique division building hard-edged sports car for hardcore enthusiasts. However, a switch to production-based engines, AWD and automatic transmissions for the X5M and X6M was seen as a departure from its original ethos.
The 1M Coupe further solidified the "production-based" direction of M GmbH, and the latest M5 also shares a modified version of the X5M engine. And while BMW's M cars could never be called soft, they are perhaps losing the distinction that brought them so much respect.
To date, all cars wearing the M badge have continued to appeal to driving enthusiasts and we see no reason why this should diminish but we hope that the products aren't homogenized in an attempt to reach a wider audience.