BMW M division product planning manager Carston Pries says there is little his Munich-based team can do to prevent rival Mercedes-Benz from positioning its A45 AMG rival next to the M135i.
Asked whether the ‘M performance’ package that sits below proper M cars looks as though it gives buyers less than a fully-fledged AMG product available for similar money, Pries confessed that in Europe the A45 is positioned well above an M135i so it therefore isn’t a problem.
“It is beyond our control if one of our competitors tends to be fairly price aggressive in one markets and not the others,” he added, pointing to Mercedes-Benz Australia’s aggressive pricing strategy that was also acknowledged by local BMW boss Phil Horton last month.
“For us, it’s important to have price consistency, and the pricing structure within our model range, I’m sure that’s the same for our Australian colleagues.
"We made the deliberate decision to introduce the M Performance product category. We get great reviews the car is hugely successful in the market.”
That leaves open the question of whether BMW M division would like to compete directly with the A45 AMG, the Mercedes-Benz performance division’s first hot hatchback, and the fastest car available locally for under $80,000.
“We founded this segment, we ended it with the 1 Series M Coupe,” Pries began, hinting that the company would return to the compact performance segment.
“We opened the doors, as some of our competitors follow now or walk through as well. As you can imagine it makes you think what does it require to continue the success story that we definitely had with the 1 Series M Coupe.”
The BMW 2 Series – the renamed next-generation version of the existing 1 Series coupe – will be released early next year, and Pries (below) admits that the current car runs a very “rich” mix of high performance models based on popularity, opening the door for a more hardcore, higher-priced version.
“We have the M135i now ... speculating about a two-door version with the 2 Series name, obviously this car would also qualify very well with what we’ve done already with the M135i, whether there’s something beyond that remains to be seen in the future.
“We definitely have to look into the overall model structure within the respective whole range, and if you look at the … very substantial share, the rich mix of very powerful engines in the 1 Series coupe and 1 Series convertible …. you have to determine how far you want to go up from that point, because you obviously want to keep those buyers that you have within your brand.
“So therefore you have to wonder which step to take. Whether you want to take one step, or two steps at a time.”
Two steps would indicate the creation of an M235i and M2 performance car, which may also double as an M1 hot hatch, particularly in the wake of the hotly received A45 AMG.
“There is a lot of activity going on at BMW M,” teased Pries. “We are talking about six [M] models already and that won’t be the end of this story.
“We always think about additions, but it has to be sensible additions".