BMW’s M division is widely considered to be the soul of BMW-its name comes from “Motoren”-and for a long time, it was a stronghold of traditional notions of what a BMW should be. That meant rear-wheel drive, manual transmissions, and naturally aspirated engines-ideally a straight-six.
Over the years, however, one principle after the other has fallen by the wayside, but at least one has held: The M cars, including the newer M Performance models, have at least six cylinders and are built on rear-wheel-drive-based platforms.
But with the advent of a new generation of front-wheel-drive BMW models, that is about to change as well. Sources in Bavaria tell us that M GmbH will be working its ministrations on the brand’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, imbuing it with more than 300 horsepower in an M Performance version of the X2. The front-drive-based, next-generation 1-series will get the treatment as well, but that model is unlikely to make it to the United States. Theoretically, there also could be an M Performance version of the X1, although there is concern it might cannibalize sales from its X2 sibling.
- 2014 BMW X1 xDrive35i Instrumented Test
- Electrified BMW M Cars Are Coming
- BMW X2 Tests, Reviews, Specs, Pricing, and More
The looks of these M Performance models won’t deviate far from the standard models equipped with the M Sport package. But the fact that M GmbH is taking responsibility means they will receive significant upgrades in terms of suspension, braking, and sound engineering, as well as rear-biased all-wheel-drive systems.
The M Performance variant of the X2 will fill a void in the lineup that has been left by the departure of the X1 xDrive35i, the six-cylinder version of the first-generation, rear-drive-based X1. It’s a gap that has been eagerly exploited by competitors such as Mercedes-AMG and Audi, so it makes sense to fill it as soon as possible. Look for the M Performance X2 to reach the U.S. market by 2020.