Bob is bamboozled by the ever-increasing weight and girth of BMW M’s finest

Bob is bamboozled by the ever-increasing weight and girth of BMW M’s finest

BMW M has certainly been enjoying itself during its 50th anniversary year, and the debut of machinery such as the M3 Touring and the M4 CSL have been some of the highlights. More recently, we’ve seen the world premiere of two further M cars, topping and tailing the range in the guise of the all-new XM and the perhaps rather more enticing M2. As you’ll be aware, the XM is the first standalone M car since the debut of the original, the M1, way back in the late 1970s, but there aren’t a whole host of parallels you can draw between the two machines. I guess the closest you could get is that while the M1 was conceived as a race car, BMW reckons the XM’s ‘drive concept’ is shared with the M V8 Hybrid race car that’ll enter IMSA next year. But, there, the similarities end.

The M1 was a mid-engined twoseater powered by a 24-valve ’six. The XM is an SUV leviathan with a twin-turbo V8, a host of electric gubbins, four-wheel drive, plus possibly the highest number of stability and assistance systems to keep it on the road that has ever been fitted to a BMW. Of the headline figures, two stand out – 653hp which makes it the most powerful road-going BMW ever – and a kerb weight of 2710kg. Yup, that’ll be getting on for three tonnes with passengers and luggage!

Perhaps we should move on to the M2, which looks like an entirely more tempting proposition – compact, potent straight-six, rear-wheel drive and available with a manual ’box. It’s not cheap, though, as if you spec that manual shifter you’re going to be looking at a smidgen shy of £65k. Yes, that’s sixty-five thousand of your finest English pounds… which seems like a hell of a lot for an entry-level M car and is £15k more than the similarly accelerative M240i. Still, both look like a bit of a bargain when compared to the £145,000 you’ll need to slip behind the wheel of the XM.

The prices aren’t the only things rising with the latest crop of M machinery as their kerb weights and dimensions are skyrocketing too. The new M2 is 525kg heavier than an E30 M3, nearly 300kg up on an E36 M3 Evo, and even the old F87 M2 was a useful 230kg lighter than the latest model. An E34 M5, at 75kg lighter than the M2, looks like the winner of slimmer of the year compared to the new ‘compact’ model, while even the E60 M5 is only a smidgen heavier. The M2’s big too, nearly 10cm longer and 10cm wider than an E46 M3 and its closest relative in terms of size is the E92 M3 Coupé, which managed to tip the scales at nearly 150kg less. And perhaps most bizarre of all is that the new M240i is 90kg lighter than the M2 despite having the additional weight of a four-wheel drive setup!

I know it’s not limited to BMW – most manufacturers’ products seem to have been on the Greggs’ diet in recent years, and for all their talk of ‘lightweight’ engineering, I’m just not seeing it. And, of course, as performance cars get heavier, they need ever-greater outputs to match or beat the model that came before, and that means they need bigger and heavier brakes and suspension setups to cope with the extra power and weight…

I’m sure both the XM and M2 will be great to drive – M cars are almost always entertaining – but I can’t help but think that many of us would be happy to sacrifice a bit of power and weight for the tactility and response that comes with a lighter machine. Or is it just a case that more power and an ever-increasing number of weighty gadgets and gizmos are what sell an M car these days? The M1 must be spinning in its grave.

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