There’s no hiding from it so might as well brace for a BMW invasion of M-level proportions

BMW’s M Division is a growing organism within the BMW ecosystem, and it seems like there’s no slowing it down. We already know that BMW has big plans to expand the performance division with more M Performance and M models on the horizon. Now, reports are coming out regarding specific models that are on the docket, including a 400-horsepower version of the 1 Series — the M1, perhaps? — a fully-blown X8M SUV, and a bespoke mid-engined coupé based on the Vision M Next that really does border on the excessive. Turns out, that word isn’t a part of BMW’s vocabulary these days, so prepare yourselves for a coming invasion of BMW M Performance and BMW M models in the near future.

2019 BMW M8
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On the one hand, we already know about BMW’s plan to expand its M division. This year alone, we saw the arrivals of the X3 M, X4 M, M8 Coupe, and M8 Convertible.

That list also includes the M135i xDrive and the X2 M35i, at least if you’re interested in the lower rungs of the division’s entire range.

BMW’s M division is growing, folks, and it’s growing at a rate that’s impressive and alarming at the same time. To date, there are more than 12 M models in the market, not counting the four new M models and the pair of M Performance models that are scheduled to join the family in the coming year. Apparently, even that’s not enough for Bimmer as a number of newer M models are either in development or are being discussed by Bimmer execs to join the fray.

A hotter 1 Series than the M135i xDrive?

2020 BMW 1 Series
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A little over a few months ago, BMW introduced the M135i xDrive as the range-topping, performance-oriented version of the 1 Series family. It had all the makings of a series flagship, in part because it arrived alongside the all-new, third-generation 1 Series, which, itself, is special in its own right owing to its front-wheel drive setup, a first for the 1 Series lineage. The M135i xDrive, on the other hand, will feature an all-wheel drive drivetrain and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine — Bimmer’s most powerful four-cylinder engine ever — that produces 302 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The engine is linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which, in turn, sends power to both the front and rear axle, allowing the M135i xDrive to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.8 seconds.

2020 BMW 1 Series
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The numbers are impressive for a performance hatchback that’s supposed to sit atop the entire 1 Series range.

The thing is, the M135i xDrive’s position may be short-lived at best because there are talks that BMW wants to add another model into the mix, one that will feature a four-wheel drive drivetrain and a four-cylinder engine that can produce up to 400 horsepower.

Think about that for a second. A 400-horsepower BMW 1 Series? It sounds ridiculous on paper, but it’s really not once you look at the changing landscape of this segment. The recently unveiled Mercedes-AMG A 45, for example, is coming to battle with as much as 416 horsepower on tap. The muscle-flexing Audi RS3 can dial to as much as 400 horsepower, as well. Then there’s the reported Volkswagen Golf R Plus, which is also expected to carry 400 horsepower. Evidently, that power range — 400 ponies — has become the new threshold in this segment. Did you think that BMW would let its rivals share in this pie without getting involved? Sure, a 400-horsepower 1 Series model isn’t official yet, but don’t be surprised if it gets the green light from Bavaria sooner than later.

The BMW X8 doesn’t exist yet, but the X8 M is already under discussion

A 400-Horsepower 1 Series and a Full-Out X8 M Are Just Two of the Many Things Coming from BMW Exclusive Renderings Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Here’s all the proof you need to know that BMW has become ultra aggressive in expanding the M Division’s model lineup. The BMW X8 doesn’t exist yet. Heck, BMW hasn’t even confirmed that it would develop one, and one of the few items we can lean on regarding rumors about the model is its supposed “G09” internal codename. There are no details about the supposed range-topping SUV other than whispers that it would ride on the same underpinnings at the X7 and that it would use a sloped roof design. Great, right? Don’t get excited yet because a recent report by Autocar indicates that BMW is also already working on an M-infused version, appropriately called the X8 M.

Details are understandably non-existent at this point, but it’s not hard to imagine the X8 M using the same powertrain as its range-topping counterpart, the M8.

If that’s the case, look for the X8 M to feature the same 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, one that produces over 617 horsepower and 533 pound-feet of torque. The exact figures will probably be different, but something along those lines would make the X8 M a suitable rival to the 577-horsepower Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 and the 567-horsepower Audi RS Q8.

A 400-Horsepower 1 Series and a Full-Out X8 M Are Just Two of the Many Things Coming from BMW Exclusive Renderings Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Visually, the BMW X8 will have its own look relative to the X6 and X7. That should extend to the X8 M, as well, and since this model could very well be the most expensive production BMW model in the market, expect Bimmer and its M Division to go all-out to justify its stature. Whether all this ends up happening is a matter of conjecture at this point. But there’s a lot of smoke coming out of Bavaria when it comes to the X8. And when there’s smoke, we all know what comes out next.

Is the M1 nameplate finally making a comeback?

1978 - 1981 BMW M1 High Resolution Exterior
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This is where things get a little hairy, not because it’s completely out of the blue, but because it could turn into the long-awaited successor to one of the most important performance cars BMW has ever built: the M1. Before anybody starts getting excited about that possibility, it’s important to remind everyone that the concept that the M1 is reportedly going to be based on, the Vision M Next Concept, only made its debut last week.

Sure, it’s a provocative new concept that points to a possible high-tech hybrid M performance model, but there’s very little in the way of specific details to really lay some groundwork on this possibility.

BMW’s head of research and development, Klaus Froelich, did say that the current i8 sports car will be succeeded by a production version of the Vision M Next, which will arrive sometime in 2023. More importantly, that model will fall under the BMW M banner. This all ties back to all the rumors circulating about the possible return of the M1 nameplate. It’s worth noting that BMW has only built two mid-engine performance cars: the M1 and the i8. Could the next-generation M1 — if this does end up with that name — be the third?

A 400-Horsepower 1 Series and a Full-Out X8 M Are Just Two of the Many Things Coming from BMW High Resolution Exterior
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Whatever happens, the early prognosis on possible performance numbers is encouraging.

The production version of the M Next is rumored to come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors, establishing its plug-in hybrid identity.

No actual power numbers have been announced, but BMW expects the setup to produce around 600 horsepower, enough, at least to help it sprint from 0 to 62 mph in three seconds and hit a top speed of 186 mph. A fully electric M Next was initially considered, too, but Bimmer reportedly shot it down because such a setup would make the model too heavy.

BMW’s M Division will be B-U-S-Y

2021 BMW M2 CS/CSL
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It goes without saying that BMW’s M division will have a lot on its plate in the coming years. And by a lot, I mean A LOT.

There will be new models coming in, existing models that will be updated, and concept cars that will evolve into production models. I haven’t even mentioned BMW M’s plans to expand its number of hardcore CS models, starting with the new M2 CS in 2020. That’s a different family entirely. You can argue that there could be too many M models in the future, but you could also point to the fact that all these new models that are rumored to arrive all have the potential to be segment-shakers in their own right. If BMW finds a way to make all of this work, it could turn its own M Division into a juggernaut. And all we have to do is sit back, relax, and watch all of it unfold.

Further reading

A 400-Horsepower 1 Series and a Full-Out X8 M Are Just Two of the Many Things Coming from BMW
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW Vision M Next Concept.

2020 BMW 1 Series
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Read our full review on the 2020 BMW 1 Series.

1978 - 1981 BMW M1 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 1978 - 1981 BMW M1.

2021 BMW M2 CS/CSL
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 BMW M2 CS.

Source: Autocar

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