BMW’s upcoming M3 Touring was originally destined for left-hand-drive (LHD) markets only, but Australia and other right-hand-drive (RHD) countries built a strong enough case to convince Munich to make the first production M wagon a truly global car.
Speaking to CarsGuide at the local reveal of the new hot wagon, BMW Australia head of product and market planning said the M3 Touring has been a long-gestating project for the brand.
“This was born a good four or five years ago, they had to wait until they had the platform of the new 3 Series Touring ready for that to happen,” he said.
“We first got wind that they were going to do this four years ago, [they] originally advised us left-hand-drive only.”
However, Australia isn’t the only RHD market in the world, and Mr Michel revealed that together with the UK and Japan, a big enough business case was made to convince Munich to also build the M3 Touring with the steering wheel on the right.
“And then they approached us again 12 months later,” he said.
“There was just us, Japan and the UK, and we obviously said ‘yes, hurry up and build it and send it to Australia’.
“We put up our hand for enough volume, and the UK did and Japan did, to make the business case work, and that’s why we’ve now got a car sitting over there in right-hand drive.
“Together with our other high-volume M right-hand-drive markets, which is Japan and UK, the business case got off the ground for it to happen.”
The high penetration of M in Australia also gives the local division a stronger voice when requesting go-fast products from Munich, with the ongoing run-rate at about one in every five new BMWs sold locally baring the M badge.
That means, year-to-date to the end of July, BMW Australia has found about 2752 new homes for its full-fat M and M Performance products.
“The Australian vehicle buyer is a very heavily focused, in this market, on performance, more than even America,” Mr Michel said.
“We’ve got a high take rate of M cars, which you look at it on paper and it’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s the nature of our market.
“And that’s what makes me very excited.”
Under the M brand, BMW currently offers the M3, M4, M5, M8 in the passenger car line-up, while M SUVs are available from the X3 and X4, up to the X5 and X6.
Aside from the M3 Touring, BMW is also gearing up to reveal its second-generation M2 later this year, which is expected to hit Australian showrooms sometime in 2023, while the XM SUV is also waiting in the wings.
The M Performance models, meanwhile, bridge the gap between the mainstream range and the hardcore performance top dogs, and include the likes of the i4 M50, M135i, M440i, X2 M35i, Z4 M40i and X7 M50i.