BMW is doing something we never thought it would - selling M engines to other brands.
In case you missed it, there's a new Range Rover Sport SV in existence that's now powered by a BMW engine. But not just any BMW engine: a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 with mild-hybrid assist and 626 horsepower, and up to 590 lb-ft of torque when launch control is activated. Why is this important, you might ask? Because this isn't just an off-the-shelf BMW engine, it's an M engine, specifically the S68, and it hasn't been detuned for use in a rival brand. It's more powerful than the BMW X5 M Competition (617 hp/553 lb-ft).
But while I'm certain it will be fantastic in the Range Rover Sport SV, I'm far more excited about the repercussions of this decision for an entirely different brand and car. Specifically, this has big implications for Toyota, particularly the GR Supra.
BMW selling its engines to other manufacturers is not something new. BMW previously powered Land Rovers back when it owned the brand but has also sold its V8 and inline-six engines to independent manufacturers. Wiesmann uses BMW motors in its very bespoke vintage-styled sports cars, for example.
We knew that BMW would power the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, but the assumption was always that BMW would sell its run-of-the-mill N- and B-code engines. This turned out to be the case initially, with the N63 V8 finding a home in both these SUVs.
But surely BMW wouldn't give its best engines to a rival automaker; surely it would reserve the S-badged M motors for its creme de la creme. After all, you don't give proprietary technology to someone who could use it to build a rival product.
But BMW has now broken that rule, and the repercussions are big.
What other M engines could be shoehorned into cars from other brands?
BMW only has three M engines currently in use. Gone are the days when every M derivative got a bespoke engine, and we now have two distinct classifications.
The M2, M3, M4, X3 M, and X4 M all make use of the S58 twin-turbo inline-six in varying states of tune, while the X5 M, X6 M, X7 M60i, and XM all use the S68 with varying tunes and degrees of hybridization. The forthcoming M5 will also use it, albeit with the PHEV setup from the XM Label Red.
The only outlier is the BMW M8, which uses the S63 V8 - a direct predecessor to the S68 and one that will be phased out entirely when the M8 ends its current generation.
With the S68 now being used by Range Rover (officially a standalone brand), BMW's junior M motor may find use in other out-of-brand products, particularly the Supra.
There have long been rumors of a 500-plus-horsepower Supra GRMN as the final send-off for the A90 Supra generation with power coming from the M3's motor. GRMN models are one step above the GR variants and are intended as highly track-focused models; GRMN stands for "Gazoo Racing tuned by Meister of the Nurburgring."
But these rumors were always casually dismissed as nothing more than hopeful whims. Never in BMW's history, at least as far as this writer can remember, has it given away M motors while they are still in use, and why would it?
But with that rule now broken, the rumors have an additional glimmer of hope added.
If BMW is willing to sell M motors to rival automakers, then the gloves are off. And if there's one model perfect for an M motor, it's the GR Supra. It might have a Toyota badge, but as the internet knows, the GR Supra's DNA is decidedly German.
Not only does the GR Supra use BMW motors (both the B48 2.0-liter turbo and the B58 3.0-liter turbo-six) in their full BMW states of tune, but the gearboxes, both eight-speed automatic and six-speed manual, are sourced from the BMW parts bin and supplied by ZF.
Toyota made some tweaks to programming, and in the case of the manual, refined the shifter with a heavier knob and a little less rubberiness to make the action itself more positive, but these are still BMW parts and have BMW badges stamped into them. BMW has even issued recalls for the Supra before, as they are manufactured alongside the Z4 Roadster by Magna in Austria under license from BMW.
But the biggest thing here is that the GR Supra is built on the BMW CLAR platform. The same platform that underpins the M2, M3, M4, and more. That means the platform can easily accommodate the S58 inline-six.
Nothing has been confirmed, and we doubt anything will come from Toyota for some time. But where the concept of an M3-powered Supra was once laughable, BMW has made it a distinct possibility.
If the Range Rover Sport SV has been given the tools to stomp on the X5 M, then why couldn't Toyota be given the same tools to trounce the Z4?
BMW doesn't even see the GR Supra as a genuine rival to the Z4. One is a coupe and the other a convertible, and the Z4 is tuned as a more GT-like experience than a sports car one. When asked if a Z4 M would be in the cards for the current generation, CarBuzz was told by BMW representatives that there simply wasn't a market for it and that buyers would rather have a convertible M2.
That won't happen either, but if BMW has no intention of occupying that segment, then it has even less reason to stop another automaker from doing so. As long as BMW is making money off the engines it sells, it'll be cashing in on a segment it's not even competing in. If that isn't smart business, I don't know what is.