Driver Republic concerned about the future of M brand

Interesting | June 20th, 2009 by 19

Formerly Road Test Editor at Autocar magazine, currently editor at Driver Republic and one of the most popular UK motoring journalists, has expressed some concerns …

Formerly Road Test Editor at Autocar magazine, currently editor at Driver Republic and one of the most popular UK motoring journalists, has expressed some concerns in his latest column regarding the future of BMW’s M brand.

Chris believes that the recent developments within the BMW Motorsport division have shown a slight shift in focus, starting back in 2004 when according to him BMW stopped offering decent brakes on its M cars. In balance, Chris acknowledges that the current M3 and M5 are exceptional cars, the fastest, but maybe not the best Ms ever built.

“Please excuse the pedantry, but the first M-car was the 1978 M1, which was a pukka homologation exercise. This fits nicely with the designated ‘M’ meaning, but the lineage was broken almost immediately by the launch of the E12 M535i (complete with dog-leg ‘box, slippy diff and catastrophic wet-surface behaviour). This was a street car, and it also carried the ‘M’ badge. Homologation purity didn’t return until the 1986 E30 M3. And since then very little of what BMW M has produced has had anything to do with motorsport.”

2006 bmw z4 m roadster silver logo 1280x960 655x491

Obviously Chris’ concern started when BMW decided to launch the first line of Motorsport Sports Activity vehicles – X5M/X6M – a move that has been heavily criticized by many BMW fans.

I don’t understand these cars, and because of that I’m probably not qualified to comment on them. Obscenely rapid SUVs were an amusing folly 12-months ago, but they are a nonsense right now. If you happen to already produce one, I can understand why you might continue to market it at those people rich and tasteless enough to still want one. But why launch such a vehicle now? With an M badge on it?

This is obviously a touchy subject and the opinions are, as usual, split, some M purists disagree with new M models, a diminution of the M brand, while others embrace the change and are willing to look past the history and focus on new products that target a larger audience.

In a way, we agree with Chris, but at the same time, we have learned in the recent history of BMW models that most of the criticized ones ended up do quite well in terms of sales and found their own niche. While there is clearly a push for smaller, more efficient vehicles, there are still plenty of people willing to shell out $100,000 for an ultimate M SAV.

As usual, we’re looking forward to your comments.

[Source: Driver-Republic ]

19 responses to “Driver Republic concerned about the future of M brand”

  1. Mr. M says:

    Im the first in line to buy the new X6M… So this guy thinks BMW didt any research, surveys, market studies, etc to launch the new M models? Who is this guy? I think this guy drives a Jetta and hasnt feel the emotion to drive an M…….

    • _Auday_ says:

      you driving the X6M and car sales well doesnt contradict with what he is saying, all he is saying is that this new line of M car doesnt fit the original meaning of M cars.

  2. poop says:

    i somehow don’t think that the x6 which is already a slow seller is going to pick up any time by making it an x6-m for 100k

  3. monte_cristo says:

    Look at Porsche with the Cayenne, it is now still 1/3 of their sales while being almost 50% in 2003 through 2005. Huge moneymaker. There is still a market for this type of vehicules and it’s no surprise BMW wants to meet demand.

    • poop says:

      yeah and porsche sold most of those during the suv boom, not to mention it was their first suv entry, not a variant of a pre-existing model. now is not that time, and cayenne’s are sitting on lots, as are most suv’s, and i dont see anyone lining up for performance models like they were before. the timing seems weird to me. it does/has seemed like bmw is diluting their brand, especially considering that they said before that they wouldn’t consider suv m’s not that long ago because it was against their philosophy.

  4. Elio says:

    Chris Harris knows what he’s talking and I used to enjoy his weekly column in Autocar Magazine. I know he’s an M fan and I have to agree entirely with his thoughts although I fear it goes much deeper through the BMW brand. I can’t work out if BMW have stopped making outstanding cars or if the competition has gotten better. My thoughts are the latter but BMW do need to get back to releasing some metal which people die for to own.

  5. Artmic says:

    M SUV? Blah, they can keep it

  6. Gord says:

    I’m pretty sure Chris has a new M3, so I’m a bit surprised at his comment. I don’t really mind an X5/X6 M, as long as the M3, M5, and M6 are good. :)

  7. BMfan says:

    Why is this guy not concerned about Mercedes and the rest of auto makers pursuing their AMG and whatever they name theirs’. Fast SUVs are fun to drive as well and some if not many of us will go for it if we had our way.

  8. I think its about time we had more M product cars, so im pleased to see the X5/X6M models. Their now needs to be a proper M supercar to replace the original M1, an M version of the concept CS and a M7. Their is still a huge market for these cars and need to be bulit to compete with competetors.

  9. wazon says:

    I have to admit that I am excited how it gonna be to drive M SUV. Actually, I haven’t driven such fast SUV yet, so I wait for some occasion. Beliefe that BMW did great work and that it will be best handling SUV on the market.

    Maybe SUV boom is over for a while, but finally finansial crisis will end and SUVs gonna become more popular once again. BMW will then something really desirable to offer. It’s clear that they were working at M SUV before crisis became and hence they couldn’t drop its production.

  10. Neal Pratt says:

    Few people want another “E30 M3” Most people want the Big Fast Kaboom E60 M5. Money talks nowadays and BMW would sell more Big-A M5’s then Little Traditional E30 M3-Like cars as great as they are.

  11. Tom Hegedosh says:

    the z4m is a fantastic/lightweight driver’s car anyway… stop complaining and drive one

  12. Mauro Corti says:


    The problem here Tom is that there will be no more Z4 M, only X6/5M, and excuse me if I think that Z4 is choccolate and XM are… crap.

    We are not complaining about Z4M, that Z4M was amazing and it had one of the most amazing engine bmw ever made, probably the best ever. But this… Cmon u can’t create a 1800+ kg car and say “this is a sport car” or even worse “a super car”.

    M5 is not a super car, not even close, it’s a fast BIG BIG BIG FAT luxury car, but “sport” is the last thing you can think getting on an M5. The X6M is even worse due to its dimensions and weight, so YES Chris is right, the last Ms were just fat, beautifil, big cars with awful brakes, nothing more than this.

  13. Tuesmq says:

    Marketing research is just… well, marketing research. What people say they would buy 2 years ago probably won’t be the same thing today. And we know very well what type of world we are in today compared to 2 year ago. I really don’t think the M trucks will become a commercial success.

    The M brand should have been left alone. Just following AMG isn’t a good way to do business.

    I think BMW would have been better off creating a another label for the fast SUVs they want to sell. Surely their marketing people can come up with better names than sDrive.

  14. hj says:

    what an asshole this guy is truly dumb
    What about the M3CSl or heck GTR those are amazing cars not to mention the older M3 was outstanding and so is the new one man it revs 8000

    How far ahead does this man want BMW to be let him go nag about some other crap manufacturer

  15. s3r3n says:

    The m3 CSL has to be the one of the finest cars in the world and certainly the best made by bmw to date.. The new m3 is also a great car but i think with the new x5/6 m bmw has lost the plot.. M IS NATURALLY ASPIRATED.. IT IS HERITAGE!! DONT TURBCHARGE THE DAMN THING!

  16. Kingz says:

    I think this journalist is possible referring to BMW’s current turbo phase which is actually justifiable due to the strict CO2 emission laws. BTW M cars are street cars! If the journalist wants some assurance that BMW can make a proper Motorsport car then he should drive the E46 M3 CSL. BMW’s M division will still continue to make the best cars in their class as they have ALWAYS done.

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