BMW may have made a U-turn by embracing front-drive for its latest small passenger cars – after previously ridiculing front-drive in advertising – but high-performance models will remain exclusively rear-drive or all-wheel drive, says the boss of BMW M division.
When asked whether front-wheel drive might be suitable for high-performance M-branded models, the global boss of BMW M, Markus Flasch, said “No, it’s not”.
“We have a very strong offering in the M2 so we figure there’s no need to have (both) a high-performance car based on the (long-standing rear-drive) 2 Series and then a performance car based on the (new-gen, front-drive-centric) 1 Series,” Mr Flasch told Australian media during the 2019 BMW M Festival in South Africa.
In short, this means there’s no current plan for an M-branded, $40k-something rival for Golf GTI, Renault Megane RS and other front-drive hot hatchbacks, leaving the ($63,990 list) all-wheel drive M135i xDrive (below) to target Mercedes-AMG A35, Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R as the entry level to M ownership when it launches in Australia next month.
“The M135i xDrive is very attractive in the performance segment but if you really want high performance customers will always go for the M2. (The M2) is the most charismatic and purest model that we have and we’re working on a successor. There is no reason to do something different with the 1 Series.”
Mr Flasch confirmed at the M Festival the new small high-performance flagship, the M2 CS only previously caught in camouflage, will launch globally around the middle of 2020 to sit above the recently released Competition and to combat Audi RS3 and AMG A45.
As reported earlier, BMW M has no plan for red-hot 1 Series offering M2 levels of high performance.
“(The M2 CS) is probably the most crisp and pure BMW M model we have launched in quite some time,” Mr Flasch adds. “It’s phenomenal and drives like a race car with licence plates.”