The BMW M235i is the current favorite BMW among enthusiasts. It’s been called the resurgence of the E46 M3, as it’s a similar size, has similar power and performance and has that old-school BMW feel. The idea of a BMW with an M badge that isn’t a proper M car bothers many enthusiasts, however the M235i has swayed most of those enthusiasts with its fantastic driving dynamics and genuine fun nature. Some may actually prefer it to the upcoming M2, as it will be about 85 percent of the car that the M2 is, but at a significantly lower price. Could this create a nice trend for BMW moving forward?
If the M235i is almost as much fun as the M2, but comes at a much lower price, then maybe BMW should consider making M Sport variants of all its models, or most of them, as to offer budget M variants of sorts. For example, if BMW were to make an M340i, possibly replacing the standard 340i, that was more performance oriented and similar to the M235i, customers who couldn’t afford an M3 could get a baby-M3 of sorts. This also wouldn’t hurt M3 sales because the M3 has a prestigious enough nameplate, and enough of a performance gap, to keep its sales just as high.
BMW could something similar for the 4 Series, 5 Series and 6 Series. This would be a cool way to get a car with M tuned bits without having to spring for the extra money on a proper M car. It may not sounds very necessary, but the formula seems to work for the M235i, so why couldn’t it work for the 3, 5 and 5 Series? In fact, the idea of an M340i sounds much more appealing to me than a 340i. The 340i is quite expensive in its own right, but doesn’t seem much more special than the 328i, despite the bigger engine. An M badge and some cool go-fast bits could add that extra “specialness”.
The only real argument I can see against this would the the dilution of the M brand. Putting M badged on cars that aren’t true M cars could make the M Division seem a bit more trivial, but it might be worth it to lower the cost of entry into the famous division. While these M Sport variants wouldn’t be proper M cars, they give customers away to have an M car of sorts without the ultra high price tag.
The idea of an M440i or an M535i is actually quite exciting, regardless of any sort of M brand dilution. I think the end will justify the means, as the end products will be good enough to make people forget about any sort of brand image issues. They’ll just drive great cars and be thankful for their existence.