BMW has confirmed a standalone M Division sportscar
Vision M Next
Good news! BMW’s M Division is working on a standalone model. Potentially less good news! It won’t be a full-strength hypercar halo like Mercedes-AMG’s One, and it might even be electric.
“Standalone M cars are obviously something that my team likes to work on,” says M boss Markus Flasch. “It wouldn’t be the first time; we did it with the M1 many years ago. We have some very concrete plans for something new.”
We naturally wager it has two seats and a mid-mounted engine, just like that glorious old M1. “Not necessarily,” says Flasch. “That’s an option. But it’s not the only option.”
Likewise there’s a host of powertrain options available, especially as Flasch has been so open that M Division will eventually produce fully electric cars, with a hybrid stepping stone in the middle.
“We are working on electrified combustion and we are working on fully electric cars, but we will only bring those options to customers when they offer an advantage in terms of character, in terms of performance. We won’t do it just to be first on the market with a particular type of powertrain. That’s not what our customers are after.”
“It’s too early to talk about propulsion,” he says when we wager that halo car might be electric-powered, “but a brand new model without a predecessor is more suitable than a model with a predecessor.”
Hints get no more teasing, but apparently we haven’t long to wait to see the fruits of his team’s labour, and there have been previous suggestions the wild Vision M Next might make production. Which makes it more interesting to learn that M Division didn’t once dabble with the soon-to-die i8 hybrid sports car.
“We have never worked on the i8,” says Flasch, “but the i and M divisions are in constant interaction, we meet a minimum of once a week and there are no dogmas or taboos between us. We share thinking.”
So why not a full-bore rival to the AMG One? “It’s a fascinating idea as we have a lot of competitive engineers, so a halo car is always a thrilling idea. But M is so strong – 2019 will be our best year of sales ever – the brand doesn’t need a halo car. Business- and image-wise I’m a little bit mixed about if this is necessary. I like the idea, but it needs to do a job.”
Ideas time, Internet. What form would you like M’s standalone car to take?
STORY Stephen Dobie