Next-generation BMW M3 and M4 could go all-electric

Published Jul 21, 2023


To go electric or not? It appears that BMW’s M Division is struggling with a bit of indecision regarding its next-generation M3 and M4.

Right now the performance arm is exploring its options for the upcoming performance models, which are due by around 2027 or 2028, and it seems things could go either way.

Drive recently managed to get a few words in with BMW M’s global head Frank van Meel, who told the Australian publication, during a launch event, that the carmaker would consider an all-electric M3 and M4 if that could improve on the current formula.

“Well, the logic is quite easy. The next (M3) or (M4) has to be better than the current one. And if that can be done in an electric way, then probably it will go electric,” Van Meel said.

“If not, we will stay with (a) combustion engine. It's quite easy. But of course we're trying to make that happen as pure electric,” he added.

Van Meel also shot down suggestions that the company might offer a choice between petrol, hybrid and electric, like it does with its latest 5 Series and 7 Series sedans.

“Well, I don't think all three. That will be a little bit too far. Actually, we would like to offer just one. But you never know,” he told Drive.

The closest thing BMW already offers to a battery-powered M3 is the i4 M50, which produces 400kW and 790Nm, making it more powerful than the current M4 Competition, which pounds out 375kW and 650Nm, and just 5kW short of the beastly M4 CSL.

Clearly outright power isn’t a factor in the argument over whether to go electric. The big question, we’d imagine, revolves around whether the M Division could create an electric sports car that pulls all the emotional strings that it needs to, in order to satisfy existing customers.

Here we’re speaking of the soundtrack, and all the other seat-of-the-pants nuances that set petrol-powered sports cars apart from their less involving EV counterparts.

But there may be a solution, and we’re not entirely sure we like it.

While visiting Australia, Van Meel also told WhichCar that his division was looking into solutions that might simulate gear changes, as well as provide acoustic feedback and even vibrations.

He said that sensory feedback was important when driving on the track as there wasn’t always time to check the speedometer.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N already has a simulated gearbox and the BMW M boss said he thought that was a really good idea.

But he reiterated that creating a fully-blown electric M car would be somewhat more challenging than a tamer M Performance model like the i4 M50.

“On the M Performance cars it’s possible because it’s giving more performance to series production cars,” he told WhichCar.

“But for high performance models it's a little bit more complicated because we're not only building cars that are developed on the race track, actually they should perform on the race track and that's a little bit more complicated.”

But either way, we are not-so-secretly hoping that BMW does at least one more petrol-powered M4 generation.

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