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.
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.