The world didn’t end when Mercedes-AMG started putting a quad exhaust system on its “45” compact cars with four-cylinder engines. We also didn’t have to face an apocalypse when Audi Sport started doing the same with its S-badged cars. With that in mind, enthusiasts shouldn’t have much of an issue with BMW following the same recipe with its M Performance cars.
That said, we were curious to find out why the M division has decided to go this way, and what better person to ask if not the BMW M CEO himself? Frank van Meel was kind enough to guide us through the first-ever M Performance version of the X1, which suffice it to say has been a long time. It’s especially true considering the X2 M35i has been around since late 2018.
The mayor in M Town said the decision to put quad tips on the X1 M35i was taken in a bid to show M Performance models and full-fat M cars are all part of the enlarged M family. However, the diameter is slightly smaller, but at least the sporty compact crossover has real tips, unlike some other performance cars. It’s the first model from BMW to have two pairs of dual exhaust tips, with the next-generation M135i, X2 M35i, and M235i likely to follow.
BMW sees these two tiers of sporty vehicles as being part of the extended M portfolio, hence why the M Lite models also now have the specific M mirrors as well as an M logo on the double-bar kidney grille. Another relevant example is the option for a carbon fiber roof on the M340i/M340d Sedan introduced last year with the 3 Series’ facelift.
As you have probably realized by now, when BMW releases sales figures, the M division’s results include both M Performance and the true M cars. As a matter of fact, the best-selling product in 2022 during a record-breaking year was the i4 M50. During the same interview, Frank van Meel told us approximately two-thirds of annual sales are generated by M Performance cars while the other third comes from the actual M models.
This X1 M35i has upgrades beyond visual tweaks taking into account it comes with a more powerful four-cylinder engine, M Compound brakes, and a front-mounted mechanical limited-slip differential. It also boasts an adaptive M suspension and a launch control system for the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Other goodies include wider tires to better transfer power to the road and a quicker-to-react traction control system thanks to the near-actuator wheel slip limitation technology that should come in handy on slippery surfaces.
BMW will kick off customer deliveries of the X1 M35i in October in the US, with Europe to follow a month later. The equivalent X2 M35i is expected to go into production near the end of the year together with the already confirmed iX2. The F70 M135i (possibly without the “i”) is rumored to go into production in the latter half of 2024. The F74 M235i should hit the assembly line later the same year and it too might also lose the “i.”