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BMW M boss wants performance car future with something for everyone

BMW M CEO Markus Flasch with 2021 BMW M4
BMW M CEO Markus Flasch with the 2021 BMW M4

THE 2021 BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe kickstart a new era for the car maker’s performance car arm (BMW M), one that will include hybrids and EVs, but without abandoning its traditional roots.

In an exclusive interview with the Australian media ahead of the launch of the new look 2021 BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe, BMW M CEO Markus Flasch has highlighted a future that will see conventional performance cars thrive alongside hybrid technology.

“I’m not here to electrify everything,” he said. “We will have parallel technology, with conventional vehicles alongside hybrid and battery electric.”

BMW M will herald the arrival of its first electric performance offering of the new era, based on the i4, in 2021, but the new model is best described as a mid-range performance vehicle, rather than a high performance offering.

Flasch says the technology is simply not ready yet to build high performance fully electric vehicles in a similar vein to the petrol powered M3 and M4, and believes that type of capability is still some years away.

More immediate to the performance car brand’s future though is the launch of the new, and possibly controversial looking, M3 and M4 for 2021, initially in rear-wheel drive, and in xDrive all-wheel drive later in the year, when the Competition variants arrive.

2021 BMW M4 and M3
2021 BMW M4 (left) and M3

The standard M3 and M4 will be available in rear-wheel drive, with a 6-speed manual or 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, offering 353kW of power and 550Nm of torque. The new models feature vast improvements and a raft of specification changes.

“If you just think about the M ingredients we put on top [of previous models], then of course the next generation will be better,” Flasch said. “There’s no doubt the new M3 and M4 are the best ever.”

From the initial M3 and M4 launch, BMW will evolve the S58 powerplant through its first full evolution.

The upgraded version will find its way into the M3 and M4 Competition variants, where it will be available with xDrive all-wheel drive and with an automatic transmission only.

It will deliver 375kW of power and 650Nm of torque. The replacement of the previously utilised 7-speed DCT with an 8-speed auto is the result of significant improvements in transmission technology.

Officially, the expansion of the M3 and M4 range into AWD is the result of market forces, but it also makes logical sense to expand offerings to appeal to a broader customer base. It’s on that basis that other models are on the horizon too.

2021 BMW M3 Touring (wagon)
2021 BMW M3 Touring (wagon)

Somewhere in between the official launch of the standard M3 and M4, and the Competition variants, BMW will also launch the M3 Touring wagon, in what is probably the most highly anticipated new model to wear a full M badge.

“The Touring shares the 3 Series rear axle with the sedan, so we took the opportunity,” Flasch says of the development of the M3 Touring. He sees the wagon as a chance to take back market share from rivals and attract new buyers too.

Love for the high performance M3 sedan and M4 coupe offerings is split down the middle, and has been for some time, but that may change in 2021. “The split is roughly 50/50, but the Touring will change the game again,” Flasch said.

But the high performance goodness doesn’t end there, with an M4 convertible also on its way mid-next year, and the new M5 Competition due to touch down even sooner. Full details of all 2021 BMW M models will be available closer to their respective launches.

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