Last summer, BMW unveiled an exclusive BMW M3 model, GTS, an uber sporty M that will launch this summer in Europe. Unfortunately for those of us in the United States, BMW confirmed several times that the M3 GTS will not be available, a statement that started a new flow of questions around the reasons behind this decision.
Today, BMW North America reached out to us and provided an interview with M Brand Manager, Larry Koch, who graciously took the time to explain the M3 GTS’ absence from U.S. market.
Larry, why won’t BMW NA bring the M3 GTS to North America?
LK: When I first started discussing the GTS with M in Garching [Munich], I knew it could be a hit in the US, albeit most likely a short-lived hit given such a high price [110,000 Euros before US homologation]. However, when taking a closer look, we realized the car does not pass any EPA or federal safety standards. Those are two big catches for importing a new BMW, even in small volumes. Modifying the GTS to make it US-compliant would be a very costly affair because the car lacks airbags, proper DOT seatbelts, proper bumper height, etc. And those are just the safety items. Keep in mind the 4.4 liter engine is not homologated for the US which would require more than a simple set of racing catalysts [as the car is currently equipped].
But couldn’t those things be added to a US version of the GTS?
LK: I’m sure they could, but you have to balance cost against demand. In this case, the customers we speak to on a regular basis are indicating that they’d rather purchase the already-outstanding M3 Coupe for less than $60,000, even with the new-for-2011 Competition Package, and customize it. As you know, the US client often spends a great deal of time and imagination to make his or her M3 unique.
You mentioned the Competition Package… what else can you tell us about that?
LK: It’s a focused package designed to enhance the handling of the Coupe and Sedan. It delivers some key items we’ve found to be in demand. New wheels (coincidentally quite similar to the GTS wheels but in silver) with a wider offset, 10mm lower ride height, and standard Electronic Damping Control with enhanced programming. For cars equipped with the M Drive feature, the M Dynamic Mode (MDM) gets revised software for even more excitement. For $2,500, I think it’s a heck of a package without any of the compromise to the daily driver ability for which the M3 has become famous.
Any chance you’ll be offering that wild Orange exterior color from the GTS on the Competition Package M3 here?
LK: Someone once told me, ‘There can always be hope but never a guarantee.’ I think that applies in this case.