Forget about the M3 Touring, there could be an M5 wagon on the way!
Station wagons are not big business in America. Instead, the masses buy crossover SUVs. But there exists a small sect of people who adore high-performance wagons like the Audi RS6 and Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon, a sect of people who were disappointed when BMW elected not to bring the first-ever M3 Touring to America. BMW M has now acknowledged the existence of this audience, and in a recent interview with CarBuzz, BMW M boss Frank van Meel admitted that high-performance wagons from the M division could soon be heading stateside.
Speaking at a press conference recently at the BMW M Festival at Kyalami in South Africa, van Meel told journalists that the brand was seeing global demand increasing for BMW wagons. So behind closed doors, we asked him whether the US was following that same trend.
"We do see the demand increasing, especially in regard to M, because the US is our single biggest market, our most important market," responded van Meel.
According to the CEO, American dealers have seen a huge upshot in demand for M-badged wagons: "We listened to our dealers and our customers, and they're coming more and more, asking for a touring. So, we are taking that into consideration."
At present, BMW only produces one M wagon globally in the form of the M3 Touring. This is primarily aimed at the European market, but other countries like Australia and South Africa are in line to get limited numbers as well. Sadly, America hasn't been so lucky. But that may change. While it remains to be seen whether the M3 might arrive, there may be another hope.
When asked whether the new M5 might spawn a Touring variant for the US to take the fight to the AMG E63 Wagon and Audi RS6 Avant - the latter of which was brought to America for the first time in its current iteration due to customer demand - van Meel flashed a brief smile before highlighting the fact that the BMW M5 has had a Touring variant before for the E34 generation, and then again in the E61.
"And [the E34 is] actually standing outside somewhere here in the great purple color," he said, continuing in a stonefaced fashion with, "We'll see. Keep your eyes open, and if you see something like that on the Nurburgring, we're going to do it."
Van Meel was tightlipped about a lot that we asked him, but we were able to glean some additional information about the upcoming M5. It's been widely publicized that the M2 is the last of its kind, as all M cars from here on out will adopt some form of hybridization. The M3 and M4 were recently introduced, and the next M car in BMW's product cycle will be the M5.
When asked whether the hybrid augmentation of the M5 will be the same plug-in hybrid system as the XM, van Meel told us, "I can't tell you right now what we're going to put in the M5, but normally, if we [BMW M] do a new drivetrain, we will not do it just for one car."
The XM is currently the largest M car available, and with no M7 or X7 M coming - something else van Meel reiterated as not being suited to the class - the M5, X5 M, and X6 M are the next in line for such a powertrain.
This combination of a hybrid system and a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 - which generates 644 horsepower in stock form and up to 735 hp in Label Red guise - makes sense for these larger M cars, which already use a variation of the same V8 sans electrification.
Expect to see it improve before the M5 arrives, however, According to van Meel, BMW M still uses its motorsport exploits to hone its roadgoing technology - which is one of the reasons it has chosen to focus on building an LMDh car instead of entering Formula 1 like Audi.
"For us, it's really important to learn from racing and to take racing technology to series production cars, and like with the LMDh V8 hybrid, that's also the drivetrain we're going to put into the whole new XM."
There are differences, as the LMDh car's hybrid engine is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo unit designated P66/3 derived from the winning engine found in BMW's DTM cars. The hybrid system, in this case, comprises a motor generator unit from Bosch and batteries from Williams Advanced Engineering, and while the latter won't be found in a production car, the Bosch MGU could be adapted.
We'll see BMW back in the open classes at Le Mans in 2024, marking 25 years since the company's V12 LMR prototype clinched the overall win in 1999. The new M5 is expected to hit the streets sometime in the same year, so much of the development of the LMDh car could be mirrored in the new M5's powertrain.