It’s no longer a secret that BMW’s famous M Division is working on electrification. While BMW M isn’t going to be coming out with an electric M3 anytime soon, the folks in Garching are, indeed, toying with electrification in some form or another.
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“We cannot avoid the need for electrification and it is true that we are working on hybrid power already,” said BMW M Vice President Dirk Hacker. “For now, all I will say is that we are working on a very precise technical solution, but there is no final decision on how to deploy the concept.”
This idea has many BMW enthusiasts upset. The idea of adding electric motors and batteries (*gasp*) to a proper M Division product seems like blasphemy to most enthusiasts. After all, BMW’s M Division is about pure, emotional driver’s cars. Not efficiency or electricity. Right?
Maybe not exactly.
It’s true that BMW M is about performance and emotion but that doesn’t mean it can’t use the latest and greatest technology to deliver those things. Remember when BMW M went twin-scroll turbocharged with the 1 Series M? The world collectively went nuts, claiming it to be the work of the devil. However, now we look back at the 1M as one of the best M cars in the brand’s modern history. Possibly the very best.
Adding electrification, if done properly, will only increase performance and, yes, emotion. Now that downsizing and turbocharging is not only popular but necessary, BMW’s M engines have lost their razor sharp response and power delivery. However, adding electric motors can add that sharp response by providing torque at zero rpm, adding power while the turbos spool up.
I’m currently in the process of testing a BMW 330e iPerformance (review coming soon) and, while not perfect, the electric motor’s extra low-down torque makes the small, 180 hp turbocharged four-cylinder punch way above its weight class. While in sport mode, and both the engine and electric motor are working together, the response is right-now fast and provides plenty of torque.
Once the change happens, and BMW M adds electrification to some cars, there’s going to be a bit of a shock. And rightfully so, as the brand has a long history of making pure, fire-spitting sports cars. But once the initial shock ends, we’ll get over it and actually come to appreciate the instant throttle response and added performance that electrification brings.