BMW plans to return serve to Audi’s RS3 and Mercedes’ CLA 45 AMG with it’s own compact saloon M missile. Autocar has produced this rendering and had a crack at what the 300hp 1 Series M sedan might look like. It looks half decent too, given the fugly face of the 1 Series hatch.
Increasing focus on the smaller end of the market is a response to consumer demand, according to one BMW insider. “There has been a wholesale shift in the market,” said the source. “Our traditional M models—the M3 and M5—have become a good deal larger, a lot more powerful, better equipped and naturally more expensive over the years. They still sell in solid numbers, but it is time to concentrate on the more affordable end of the performance range.”
The latest mini M is expected to be powered by a screaming version 2.0 litre four-pot complete with turbocharger(s) to generate the required power. Interestingly, the engine, based on the current N20 powerplant, is suitable for transverse and longitudinal applications. The latter will suit rear-wheel drive, of course. But the former, transverse option, means it can equally be applied to front-wheel drive models.
A front-wheel drive M; will the sky really fall on our heads like that?
We’re not sure, but, yes, it could. That’s to say M GmbH is considering the benefits of front-wheel drive, namely cheaper production costs and improved interior space; as opposed to the inherent chassis balance and driving dynamics offered by rear-wheel drive.
More simply, it could just be that the engine might find its way into hi-po MINI in future. There’s also the chance a cooking version of the front-wheel drive Compact Active Tourer might benefit from M’s loving touch.
Specialist BMW website BimmerFile has had a good look at this story, too, and it’s worth checking out their take. The idea of M GmbH sub-contracting some of the development processes out to a third party, to make up for a lack of engineering capacity, is certainly a bit of an eyebrow raiser.