The outgoing BMW M boss Dr. Friedrich Nitschke sat down with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport to talk about the future of the brand, all-wheel drive M cars, naturally-aspirated engines versus turbo, BMW M8 and much more.
Ex-Audi quattro boss, Franciscus van Meel, will take over as Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M GmbH from 1 January 2015.
All-wheel drive BMW M5 and M6
Probably the most interesting tidbit is a soft confirmation that all-wheel drive is finally coming to the M5 Sedan and M6 family. Rumored for a long time, the xDrive system will give BMW M the opportunity to compete with the all-wheel drive Mercedes AMG products, especially in the Northeast US.
While not standard, the AWD would be optional for the powerful M cars and it will be extremely rear-biased.
Front-wheel drive M and manual transmission
Despite a low ordering rate (M3 / M4 in the range of 20 percent), the manual transmission is here to stay since the U.S. market demands it. What about a front-wheel drive M car? Purists’ minds can be put to rest: BMW M boss says no front-wheel drive M car will be coming out of Garching.
Naturally-aspirated engines vs turbocharged
Nitschke also confirmed 10-cylinder engines were in the pre-development stage but due to new regulations requiring efficiency, the V8 twin-turbo was the chosen power plant. The large spread across the rev range and the impressive torque are cited as two other reasons why the V8 is now the default unit. Nitschke added that development cost was not a factor in the decision.
And to put the final nail on the coffin, the M boss says the naturally-aspirated engine will not return to the M brand.
BMW M Supercar, i8 M and hybrid M cars
According to the M boss, BMW has decided so far not to build a traditional supercar, but rather focus on the next generation supercars, which we see in the BMW i8. Furthermore, Nitschke says if BMW will design an M supercar in the future, “then it would be something special, not just another supercar.”
He also ruled out an i8 M sportscar but left the door open for a hybrid-powered M. He says that “for engineers a combination of combustion and electric motor is an attractive option.” But the added weight, due to the battery and the electric motor, would forbid the birth of a hybrid M.