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BMW exec: M cars to be capped at 600 hp, lack manual transmissions

by Justin King

BMW\'s new M head, Frank van Meel, issues broad predictions for the company\'s performance division.

BMW's M cars have become more and more powerful over the years, but division boss Frank van Meel suggests engine output is quickly approaching a limit.

"For now, 600bhp is the most you can get in an M car," he said in an interview with Autocar. "We're at the limit. If you go on adding more horsepower and torque, it'd probably be over the limits."

The executive also reaffirmed his take on manual transmissions, which may be entirely eliminated from BMW's performance lineup as automatic and dual-clutch gearboxes continue to improve.

"From a technical standpoint, the future doesn't look bright for manual gearboxes," he added. "The DCT and auto 'boxes are faster and they have better fuel consumption."

The company promises that it won't "take away something the customer wants to have," but the performance gap is slowly dwindling the percentage of buyers who are opting for row-your-own transmissions in existing models. The same trend has been noted by other automakers.

Van Meel previously noted that all-wheel-drive models will soon make an appearance on M cars, likely starting with the M5 and M6, though the drivetrains will still be tuned for a rear-wheel torque bias.

Despite the apparent move away from a few traditional performance features, BMW's M division has dismissed the possibility of a four-cylinder model or a front-wheel-drive platform in the near term.

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