BMW M Cars: Not for the purists any more?
BMW M cars are not dead - they're just changing. That was the positive message from the firm's UK managing director Tim Abbott in an exclusive interview with Autoblog.
Performance fans will be pleased to hear that rising petrol prices and austere times have not sounded the death knell for BMW's M cars - but they do mean what's slotted under the bonnet will change.
At the launch of the new 6 Series convertible in Span, Abbott hinted that there will soon be an M6 joining the line up, but that it might not have a booming V10 under the bonnet like the last one.
"There's still a place for M cars even in these times," he told us. "But it's now about getting maximum performance with maximum efficiency.
"The smart way of doing that is not all about raw power, but how you deliver that power. Cars can perform and still be economical. We will build future cars that have M Power pedigree, but they might not necessarily have V10 and V12 engines. Ok, so the purists might not like it, but we have to change the way we do things."
The brand's Efficient Dynamics programme has seen its cars become more and more economical but still have a focus on driving enjoyment. But what about that M6? Is it definitely coming?
"Well, if you look at all the other generations of the car there has been," Abbott said. "I can't say officially there will be one, but you only have to look back through the records to see the chance of there being one is very high. First we need an M Sport version which we expect later this year."
Abbott also revealed BMW hadn't ruled out a lease hire scheme similar to Peugeot's Mu concept. This allows customers to change their car whenever they want depending on their needs. For example if they need a van to move home, they can swap their car for one, or even opt for a scooter for commuting.
The BMW boss said: "We don't know what the future of motoring is going to look like. It could be that owners have an electric vehicle during the week and their weekend car is an M6. Our philosophy is about letting people drive what they want at the right time and that may mean driving a combination of cars.
"We have looked at the Peugeot scheme and it's an interesting model. I've spoken to the Peugeot guys and although it's a very limited programme at the moment, it's still an interesting concept.
"We'd love to be able to say to customers that in the winter time they can drive an X5 and in the summer a Z4, but delivering that is a different thing. It's a complex model but one we are certainly looking at it."