Baby grows muscles
TheMdivision thinks smaller may be better, writes PAUL GOVER
THE baby of the BMW family is heading for a major muscle makeover. The 135i coupe has been nominated by the M division as the ideal base for its next go-faster car, following the latest X6 M and ahead of a likely upgrade of the coming 5 Series GT.
Albert Biermann, who heads product development at BMW’s M operation, says: ‘‘The 135i is already a very good car. It is an obvious choice for M.
‘‘Let’s put it this way: everything is on the radar, but some models get more focus than others.
‘‘For now we are fine on the Sports Activity side with the X6 and X5. We would rather focus on something on the opposite side of the range, doing maybe a smaller car. That way we get the younger customers in our cars.’’
Biermann says M is shifting its emphasis a little as it responds to the greening of global motoring.
The shift has already triggered BMW’s decision to withdraw from Formula One at year’s end.
‘‘We will definitely bring emissions down a lot. The X6 M is a good first example. This is a big car with all-wheel drive and it’s better in emissions than the M5 or the M6.
‘‘It’s the best in the segment,’’ Biermann says, ‘‘but it’s faster than the competition.’’
He says M is committed to the broader push by BMW.
‘‘This is us doing our part at BMW M to support the Efficient Dynamics strategy. We call it Efficient M Dynamics.
‘‘In the next models that will come out you can expect a significantly lower emission level, but not compromising on performance. We are working on the next M5 and we are on the early stage of the next M3. And we are looking into many things.’’
So what about hybrid and electric cars?
‘‘So far we have got the most out of fuel and in future we will get the most out of batteries. Everything in its time,’’ Biermann says. ‘‘There is a time for hybrids and there will be a time for real electric cars.
‘‘I would not say that there will be a hybrid M car or a full electric M car, but I’m not saying there won’t be.
‘‘But if it makes a true sports car then, yes. And if it’s a technology that is affordable for the customer, you can expect us to be there.’’
Sales of M cars have dropped a little in the past 18 months, but Biermann says the dip is related more to the models than any customer drift away from the gofast models.
‘‘Last year we had 24,000 units, but this year the M5 is one of the oldest models in our portfolio. And the M3 has had its peak,’’ he says.
‘‘Last year, though we got hit like everyone else, we had our second-best year ever with BMW M.
‘‘We definitely plan to grow.’’
Hot stuff: Paul Gover at the wheel of a BMW 135i. The M division is eyeing the family’s smallest member.