We just wrapped up the Detroit Auto Show, but BMW has already moved on to Geneva. The German automaker announced today that it's going to be showing a new line of what it's calling "M Performance Automobiles" at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

These vehicles will sit between standard Bimmers and M vehicles in the lineup, and apparently offer more than just cosmetics. While BMW has offered M Sport appearance packages over the past two decades, today's announcement specifically mentions "exclusive engine variants" and suspension tweaks among the upgrades M Performance models would offer. Given the mention of both all-wheel drive and diesel models in the announcement, it seems like the new line is specifically geared towards both of those features that BMW likely believes would tarnish the original M line or just wouldn't be appropriate for an M3 or M5.

We're awaiting a reply from BMW on what this announcement means for the U.S. market, but we imagine the M Performance cars sold here might resemble something like the 2003-2006 ZHP performance package sold on the E46 3 Series. These cars carried M badging, a unique interior, sport fascias, upgraded wheels and tires, a six-speed manual, 10 extra horses, a higher redline, revised gearing, and a stiffer suspension. There's also the possibility that the first recipient of the new designation could be the diesel variant of the X6 M that's already been teased by the Bavarian automaker.

To read the full release, click past the jump.
Show full PR text
M genes as standard: the BMW M Performance Automobiles.

12.01.2012

Munich. In spring 2012, BMW M GmbH will unveil a new product range for drivers seeking a particularly sporty driving experience, yet who also value the familiar comfort and practicality of BMW models. The BMW M Performance Automobiles offer exclusive engine variants, noticeably enhanced agility and outstanding precision on the road, plus design laced with emotional appeal. The harmonious interplay of engine output, power transfer, chassis technology and aerodynamic balance provides a captivating showcase for the familiar M genes – in day-to-day driving and beyond. The BMW M Performance Automobiles will be presented to the global public for the first time at the International Geneva Motor Show 2012 which takes place from 8 – 18 March.

The BMW M Performance Automobiles represent a totally new model category none of its rivals can offer. Only the high-performance sports cars from BMW M GmbH provide a more convincing execution of an overall concept focused on inspirational driving dynamics. "We are targeting our efforts at customers looking for more emotionality and more performance, but who don't want to forgo the everyday usability of their cars," said Dr Friedrich Nitschke, President of BMW M GmbH. Nitschke announced plans for further additions to the new product line-up, referring to "a range including a wide variety of model series, as well as both petrol and diesel-engined variants". The intelligent all-wheel-drive system BMW xDrive would also play a significant role in the BMW M Performance Automobiles, he added.

2011 will go down as one of the most successful years for BMW M GmbH since the company was founded. In addition to the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, which marked BMW M GmbH's first ever foray into the premium compact segment, last year also saw the successful introduction of the new BMW M5. The imminent arrival of the BMW M Performance Automobiles provides 2012 – which will also feature the world premiere of the new BMW M6, among others – with an early highlight.

"The BMW M Performance Automobiles benefit from the full expertise of BMW M GmbH," explained Nitschke. The BMW Group subsidiary can call on decades of motor sport experience when it comes to translating outstanding engine power into excellent dynamics. This development expertise also imbues the BMW M Performance Automobiles with their distinctive character.

The models in the new product category follow in the tyre tracks of the BMW M535i, which was unveiled in 1980 and went on to capture the hearts of performance-minded customers with its extra power, precisely tuned chassis technology and subtly modified design. A fresh addition to the BMW 5 Series ranks, the Sedan remained a highly successful member of the line-up through two model generations and – up to 1987 – with the BMW M5 for company within the range. "Our aim with the BMW M Performance Automobiles is to continue this tradition," confirmed Nitschke.


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  • 40 Comments
      BRKF06
      • 2 Years Ago
      My 2003 ZHP is still my favorite car ever (sadly gone). It was as close to an M3 sedan as you could get with the e46 and it still feels special compared to other e46s and e90s. Check out the sale prices on e46 ZHPs (performance package)...collectors view them as special too.
        Frisky_Dingo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BRKF06
        I've always wanted one, but every one I find is either auto or has a ton of miles. Makes me sad.
      scotchquach
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ahem, Mercedes, take a hint. Not everyone wants a beast 6.2 liter AMG, and the base C300/350 could use more oomph.
      Dvanos
      • 2 Years Ago
      The E46 330 ZHP model is one of the best BMWs of all time.
      Stefan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I see this as a fancy way of saying "we're cashing in on turbo tuning and suspension packages".
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stefan
        [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          Tom
          • 2 Years Ago
          I see it as BMW's admission that it is no longer their primary mission to make cars for enthusiasts. Every BMW has been badly dulled to meet the desires of mainstream American and Chinese customers. So, I'd guess that an "M Performance" model of today would aim for the driving experience delivered by _every_ BMW circa 20 years ago.
      Frisky_Dingo
      • 2 Years Ago
      So how about you badge that monstrosity of a rich posermobile that is the X6 as one?? And while we're at it, the X5, too. And give us a real M1. In short, stop being Weenies, BMW.......
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Frisky_Dingo
        [blocked]
          Frisky_Dingo
          • 2 Years Ago
          Meaning exactly what I said. A new, real M1, not some fantasy concept that'll never see.the light of day. If I had been referring to the 1, I'd have said 1M, as its called.
        Carlos
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Frisky_Dingo
        I take it you haven't seen the X6M or the X5M?
          quackmanquackman
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Carlos
          I think Frisky Dingo is referring to the X6M and X5M being protrayed by BMW as full M cars, like the M5 and M3. He's saying he prefers that they be "M Performance" cars instead of M cars.
          Frisky_Dingo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Carlos
          Yes, I have. The X6 is hideous and stupid. And the X5, cool and fast as it may be, doesn't have the same purity and focus a true 'M' does imo.
      ken
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW finally ***** its M brand like S-line or AMG. Sooner or later, BMW will have to debut a hotter rawer version to build pedigree again.
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      Those ZCP E46 M3's are some of my favorite cars, always in search of a clean example
      jvshenderson
      • 2 Years Ago
      They should badge them with an m instead of an M...
      rmkensington
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a good idea. Some people just cant afford the M models, but want better handling and a bit more power than the standard models.
      Tripointkid
      • 2 Years Ago
      This sounds like their answer to the A4 > S4 > RS4 lineup
      breakfastburrito
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's the matter dear? Well, my self-importance was deflated today, by that fake M car our neighbor bought... I mean, I spent 30 grand over the regular car, just so I wouldn't have to talk to the guy. It's ok honey. You still have a better golf swing... Thanks pumpkin!
      SloopJohnB
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW has finally bastardized its M cars enough. I'm sticking with my E46 M3. And I'm not a fan of Audi's S-line either....
        BRKF06
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SloopJohnB
        Nonsense. The M Sport package has been available for years. BMW is merely adding more M performance mods to that.
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