A lot of people gripe about BMW losing its edge. Formerly reserved for the greatest performance vehicles in its lineup, the M designation has migrated to encompass a rather large subset of the BMW fleet. While this has undoubtedly helped the brand boost its sales for years, it also muddied the waters of what constitutes an M.
In the past, BMW’s M vehicles denoted a marked increase in horsepower and real-world performance. Now they’re intermixed with M Sport trims that split the difference between standard fare and bonkers M in terms of output. And they haven’t been turning up the dial lately. In fact, the performance division of all German automakers seem to have slowed down on maximizing performance while the core business prioritizes fuel efficiency and electrification — largely because it’s expected of them by regulators.
It may not be so cut and dried. BMW CEO Markus Flasch has taken a keen interest in the M division, saying “we have to be very careful to preserve what M stands for” while evolving the brand. More recently, he said the automaker had no intent to cap output to appease anyone, claiming that the company’s performance arm has to think carefully about the future.
BMW previously confirmed that the 3 Series would abandon the manual transmission for the U.S. market, leaving many enthusiasts livid. Then there was talk that the M3 might abandon rear-wheel drive entirely, as the new car’s eight-speed gearbox was designed to work with the modern xDrive system.
However, there may still be hope for a manual option. The brand has allegedly not made up its mind on the matter, at least as far as the M3 is concerned. Still, it remains a pretty slim prospect, as BMW has admitted that manual sales are on a rapid decline and don’t really make it a lot of money.
With BMW’s M2 Competition coming aboard to succeed the well-respected M2, shaving a quarter of a second off its 0-to-60 time in the process, we figured the brand would put the model on the back burner for a while. However, earlier this week an M2 test mule was spied on the Nürburgring by Motor1.
The outlet surmised that this was likely a prototype for a high performance CS or CLS variant, but we remained uncertain. For all we knew BMW was simply testing new pieces from its performance parts catalog and felt the need to disguise them with some body-colored tape. Then, a few days later, rumors emerged that a production date had already been set for the M2 CS.
As domestic automakers usher sedans onto the precipice of a mass grave, it appears German manufacturers have yet to give up on them — at least the fancier ones. BMW recently announced the M5 Competition, which is an amped-up version of the standard performance model.
Somehow, we get the feeling the Competition exists only so BMW can set a better lap time at the Nürburgring. Excluding its visual enhancements, we doubt many drivers would be able to notice any changes from the already fast M5.
Adding 17 additional horses to a lightweight hatchback is transformative, but the same cannot be said for a 600 hp sedan weighing in at over two tons. But that’s what the Competition offers — along with revamped suspension tuning, more aggressive looks, and an angrier sound.
For a long time BMW was being accused of losing its touch when it came to building the “ultimate driving machine.” People would gripe that the company’s tech was overshadowing driving enjoyment. That may be true to some degree but you could usually point them to the M division and tell them not to worry.
However, most people don’t have the kind of money required to facilitate the purchase of an M3 — and if they don’t have the cash for that, then they definitely aren’t going to pick up the superb M5. But that’s okay because BMW eventually built the M2 and it’s probably the best car in its lineup.
That’s why we are somewhat surprised to learn BMW will be giving the fun-loving coupe a dirt nap, replacing it with the more hardcore “M2 Competition.” It’s not a new car in the strictest sense, but it is a slightly different mindset.
BMW confirmed the crap out of the M8’s existence this weekend, going so far as to provide its own spy shots of a test prototype wearing camouflaged wraps. Being developed alongside the standard 8 Series, the automaker says the M8 will be unveiled in a driving presentation during the Nürburgring 24-hour race.
The brand also stated that development is ongoing for the GTE racer that will herald the return of the company’s Motorsport division to Le Mans. “The BMW M8 GTE development programme for our Le Mans comeback is in full swing,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “Developing a new racing car is always exciting, and in the case of the BMW M8 GTE the anticipation is that much greater still. We can’t reveal any pictures yet, but I can promise you that the BMW M8 GTE will look spectacular. We are planning an initial roll-out for the first half of this year and are looking at giving the car its race debut in the Daytona 24 Hours in late January 2018.”
The kids have been getting on my nerves lately, with all of their, “Santa, please bring me this toy I’ll lose by Sunday” and “Daddy, don’t forget me at soccer practice again” and all that. I’ve decided to spite them, and that I need to spend their college fund on vehicle maintenance. So I’m looking at used, high performance, family sedans this week.
If I were so inclined to spend a public-school semester tuition every year on car repairs and general upkeep, an older BMW would be at the top of my list.
(For the nice folks at child protective services that may be reading, I never forget my children anywhere. I keep them safely chained in the basement at all times.)
I’ve always admired the styling of the E39 5-series; restrained, with just the slightest hint of aggression in the wheel arches and wide alloys. The M5 certainly appeals to me, but the asking price just seems a bit much. However, I’ve been told that the 540i with the M-Sport package is a great budget alternative to the M5, so I went shopping.
We’ve talked about BMW’s portfolio expanding faster than an American on a midwest diet before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s the key to understanding the 2-series in general and the M235i in particular.
The M235i is not an M2, it is not a 235i M Sport, and it is more than the former 135is. Are you confused yet? The M235i is the first of BMW’s “M Performance” vehicles which are not to be confused with “M Sport.”
Here’s how BMW’s new four-tier system works:
Things start with M Sport which is a “looks fast/handles well” package, then we get “is” which adds a dollop of performance, followed by the new M Performance where we put M in front of a three digit model number (M235i) denoting increased power, improved handling, improved braking and suspension tweaks, before going full-on-M.
In theory, the full treatment includes body modifications like wheel well enlargements, carbon fiber bits and a dual-clutch transmission. If you’re not totally confused yet, continue reading.
TTAC Commentator talkstoanimals writes:
Much to my dismay, in less than a year my job will move from downtown Washington, DC to suburban Maryland. This means I will be forced to drive to work every day rather than being able to rely on the Metro system for the work commute. Currently, my main ride is a 2011 BMW 135i with the M Sport package and some Dinan tweaks. However, since it does occasionally snow and sleet around here, and since I’m unwilling to sell the 135 or swap the summer treads for all season rubber (I regularly flog the car out in the twisties of VA/WV and prefer the feel of summers out there), I’m presented with a twist on the new or used question. Should I:
1. Invest in a set of winter tires, perhaps in a minus 1 size on dedicated wheels? This would require that I rent storage for the wheels/tires not in use or move out of my apartment to someplace with dirty item storage space. I could maybe beg a friend with a garage to loan me a dark corner, but it would make me feel guilty.
2. Buy some sort of cheap – $3500 to $5000ish – but reliable winter car? I wouldn’t mind having a second vehicle for hauling stuff around – maybe a small pickup or a wagon/SUV. Also, since most of my social life still revolves around downtown, I wouldn’t mind having something I could park on the street without a care whether it gets doored, dinged or scraped.
If the answer is two, what car or truck should I look for? The only caveat is that, after the fiasco with my 2010 lemon-lawed Mustang [can’t find the link to the Piston Slap on the issue], I won’t buy a FoMoCo product. (Sorry, Sajeev. But Ford ticked me off so much in negotiations over the Mustang that I refuse to give them my money anymore, even in used car form. I don’t want them making a nickel off of me on parts or anything else.) The ideal would be something small enough for city life, durable, utile and easy to insure.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Namesakeone If you want a Thunderbird like your neighbor's 1990s model, this is not the car. This is a Fox-body car, which was produced as a Thunderbird from MY 1980 through 1988 (with styling revisions). The 1989-1997 car, like your neighbor's, was based on the much heavier (but with independent rear suspension) MN-15 chassis.
- Inside Looking Out I watched only his Youtube channel. Had no idea that there is TV show too. But it is 8 years or more that I cut the cable and do not watch TV except of local Fox News. There is too much politics and brainwashing including ads on TV. But I am subscribed to CNBC Youtube channel.
- Jeff S Just to think we are now down to basically 3 minivans the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna. I wonder how much longer those will last. Today's minivan has grown in size over the original minivans and isn't so mini anymore considering it is bigger than a lot of short wheel based full size vans from the 70s and 80s. Back in the 70s and 80s everything smaller was mini--mini skirt, mini fridge, mini car, and mini truck. Mini cars were actually subcompact cars and mini trucks were compact trucks. Funny how some words are so prevalent in a specific era and how they go away and are unheard of in the following decades.
- Jeff S Isn't this the same van Mercury used for the Villager? I believe it was the 1s and 2nd generations of this Quest.
- VoGhost I don't understand the author's point. Two of the top five selling vehicles globally are Teslas. We have great data on the Model 3 for the past 5 years. What specifically is mysterious about used car values?