We had the opportunity to sit down with the gracious Dr. Friedrich Nitschke, current BMW M GmbH President, at the 2012 Geneva Motorshow last week. We were primarily interested in discussing future M models and developments and here's what we are able to report.
Is it safe to assume that will there will be a successor to the popular 1M coupe?
We sold more than 5000 units worldwide and we are thinking for a successor, but we haven't made a decision yet.
We've seen next generation M3 sedan prototypes for a while now. What M3 variants can we expect for the next generation?
The M3 is an icon and it's very important for us to make it a perfect fit for our customer. It has to be a perfect in its whole - not only in its engine and suspension, it must be a perfect concept. We are working on weight of course and on horsepower of course and for perfect handling. We will surprise you with this new car.
Will there be an M F31 touring?
We haven't made a decision on that yet.
Former M President and now BMW USA President Ludwig Willisch said years ago that BMW would be looking into V6 engines for the next M3. We've also seen patents showing interesting turbo technology and V6 layouts, so is there anything you can hint at or rule out at this point already?
From a technical point of view it would be possible. There were at times discussions about just shortening the M5 (F10) engine. But we are considering anything.
Any consideration of renaming the M3 coupe and convertible to M4?
Speaking of M model names, it's pretty easy - we have two variants: those having the M in front / series number in the back (i.e. M3, M5, M6) and second way is like the X models (i.e. X5M, X6M, Z4M) where the M is at the back. If there would be a 9 series and if M would do it, we would call it an M9 I guess. [We then asked whether the M models with the # at the end will always reflect the underlying car on which it's developed, and they confirmed. Presumably then, if the F32 coupe is named a "4 Series Coupe", the M variant of it will be called the "M4 Coupe." Ultimately the decision comes down to BMW's board of management though, which can of course always decide to break with any of these conventions.
So far, M Performance models have only been announced for markets outside of the US/NA. Can you give us an idea/preview of what M Performance models the US can expect to receive?
We launched the tri turbo diesel but not in the US, but you will see here at the show the M135i concept with the gasoline engine and I'm sure we can bring M Performance Automobiles also worldwide (also America).
Even though we see some demand for the tri-turbo diesel M Performance models in the US, the business case didn't make sense for this particular diesel. We have to have 50 state certification and in order to do that for this engine you need SCR technology [Selective Catalytic Reduction(SCR) is a method of converting harmful diesel oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions], which is an expensive thing to engineer for the US market. So even though we see some demand for these models, there has to be some balance between the demand and the engineering costs.
For the F10 5 series, there's both the M5 and the M550d (outside NA) which makes sense as one is a petrol and the other a Diesel model. Do you see enough room for both a dedicated M model and a petrol M Performance model, e.g. an M3 and an M335i?
Not only us, but our customers like the idea of having that intermediate layer in between the M model and top end regular series model and therefore anything that is successful we'll do.
Any plans for F11 M5?
With the current M5 we won't bring a touring model.
Any plans for upcoming M variants of X or Z cars?
In the current generation we won't bring a Z4 M, but for the successor we are thinking about it. Also with the current X3 we won't bring an M version, but with successor generation, we'll see.
Will there be a dedicated event to celebrate 40 years of BMW M, or is the M Festival in May meant to be that event?
For the 24 Hour Race at Nurburgring (where M Festival takes place) we'll have a special event for the anniversary and perhaps in August there will be an event also at the Nurburgring, perhaps at the DTM race.
Note: portions of select answers above were contributed by Mr. Tom Plucinsky (BMW NA) and Mr. Stefan Behr (BMW AG).