When BMW unveiled the Vision M Next in June 2019, many enthusiasts were left wondering whether the concept would evolve into a production car. Shortly after its world premiere, former chief of engineering Klaus Frohlich didn’t exclude the arousing possibility, mentioning a road-going version would happen with enough interest from customers. Fast forward to August 2020, the company officially pulled the plug on the hybrid supercar, citing prohibitive development costs.
So, rather than getting a low-slung, two-door sports car as a natural follow-up to the iconic M1, the second dedicated M car ever will be a large SUV. But why is that the case? Autoblog spoke with M boss Frank van Meel at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2022 and found out why they chose the XM over a street-legal Vision M Next:
“When we did the M1, every car company that wanted to say ‘I have something special’ built a sports car — that was the segment everyone wanted to enter. If you look today at the biggest, most important, and fastest-growing segment, it’s clearly the SUV segment. And, in comparison to other manufacturers, we were still lacking this ultimate expressive luxury flagship at the top of M.”
Frank van Meel further justified the decision by saying there is a connection between the XM and motorsport like the strong link between the M division’s cars for the road and track:
“In our 50-year heritage, we’ve always looked at racing and series-production cars to see where each one is going and what they can learn from each other. We’re continuing this with the XM: it has a V8 PHEV system and [the LMDh hypercar] also has a V8 hybrid drivetrain. You can see that when it works for racing, it also works for the high-performance cars.”
The top brass at the M division says the analysis conducted internally shows the XM represented the “biggest demand” coming from customers. In other words, the majority has spoken, and it apparently prefers an SUV over a coupe.
While another mid-engined car is sadly not on the agenda, the M division will celebrate its 50th anniversary in a big way. The recently unveiled M4 CSL is believed to spawn a 3.0 CSL with a manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive, and 600 horsepower on tap. It’s said to be a coachbuilt project limited to 50 examples at approximately 750,000 euros a pop. It won’t be a true M1 successor, but still, an exceptional way to end 2022 during which we will have seen the M3 Touring, M2 G87, and of course, the production-ready XM.