But their reasoning sounds like a cop-out.
According to BMW’s in-house nutters in M-Division, it would be detrimental to the values of the brand to pursue anything other than its core product lineup and the highly-lucrative performance-SUV space. At least, this is the official reasoning that’s been given to justify them not going after the Mercedes-AMG A45 S & Audi RS3 with the latest-generation 1-Series.
It was BMW M’s product boss that talked about how the M-Division has to focus, and pour its resources into cars with ‘global relevance,’ as opposed to niche products that they think a hot-hot 1-Series would be.
“If you look at the relevance of performance hatchbacks, they are not global things.” – Carsten Pries, General Manager (Product Management), BMW M GmbH
That must be why the previous-generation AMG A45 sold in such healthy numbers…
Despite this of course, Pries clarified to AutoExpress that BMW M would continue to develop hot 2-Series models, as well as core products like the M3 and M5. But taking up more of their time now are the SUVs, with the next up for M-fication likely to be the full-sized X7.
In our opinion however, we feel that this need to ‘focus’ on key products is a bit of an excuse by BMW. Mercedes-AMG pushed the boat out with the previous A45, producing the single most powerful 2.0-litre series-production 4-pot in history, and their learnings from that have then been applied into the new mill for the 45 & 45 S. BMW on the other hand has no such experience, and the UKL platform can only really handle about 250kW at most, which is far less than the 310kW that AMG’s touting.
Regardless, we believe that the peak of BMW M 1-Series models has passed, with the demise of the outgoing 6-cylinder rear-driven cars. It was always a niche product but one that was executed brilliantly, and we’ll miss the iconic growl of a straight-6 in BMW’s smallest model.