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BMW M planning model offensive

by Ronan Glon

More Ms are coming, including a handful of standalone models.

BMW's portfolio of M-badged models will grow in the coming years as demand for high-performance cars increases in key markets like the United States. The company is planning more powerful variants of existing cars, and a handful of standalone models that don't have a predecessor, according to one of its top executives.

M's range-topping model will draw inspiration from the plug-in hybrid Vision M Next concept (pictured) unveiled in June 2019. The model hasn't officially received the green light for production yet, but insiders claim it has already entered the development phase. British magazine Autocar learned BMW could release a convertible variant of the model a little bit later in the production run. Both will draw inspiration from the mid-engined M1 released in 1978 without going full-retro.

The X8, a sportier evolution of the X7 that hasn't been unveiled yet, will spawn an addition to the M line-up. It will be to the X7 what the X6 is to the X5, meaning it will arrive with a fastback-like roof line. While technical specifications remain under wraps, Autocar reported the X8 M will receive a twin-turbocharged V8 engine tuned to deliver at least 600 horsepower.

Moving down in the hierarchy, the third-generation 1 Series could turn into a full-blown M model after all. The born-again 1-Series M -- BMW doesn't want to re-use the M1 name -- will pack 400 horsepower from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The hatchback won't be sold in the United States, however.

The next regular-production M-badged model BMW will introduce is the M3, which is due out in early 2020. The same insiders pointed to a 500-horsepower evolution of the current M3's twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six. Powertrain options will allegedly include rear- and all-wheel drive, and either an automatic or a manual transmission. The M4 we'll see shortly after will receive the same drivetrain.

Looking ahead, a new family of engines with a 500cc-per-cylinder capacity will power M models during the 2020s. This won't change much for four- and six-cylinders; they will carry on with 2.0 liters and 3.0 liters of displacement, respectively. However, M's V8 will downsize from 4.4 to 4.0 liters.

Photo by Ronan Glon.

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