This is BMW's chance to go back to its roots and make a killing in the meantime.
Earlier this month we tried to pull an April Fool’s Day prank on our dear readers by casually mentioning that BMW was getting back into the supercar game with a modern day version of the BMW M1. Some of you knew that it was a fake (like everything on the Internet during April Fool’s Day) while others got caught up in the hype only to be let down later. But the delightful reception that the fake news got made us think: Why doesn’t BMW actually build a new M1? It has more reasons to actually build the car than not.
Right now BMW is in the middle of a confusing era. China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest auto market, and this is reflected in BMW’s cars. Bigger, loftier, and more comfortable cars are what the Bavarians now make because that's what China wants. This bodes well for average US customers who love trips to Starbucks with their Chihuahuas and don’t give a lick about performance, but it stabs die-hard BMW fans in the back. Gone are the days when BMW made small, light, and practical machines that seemed to be tuned perfectly both for driving comfortably and pitching into tight corners with the tires squealing. Now even the modern M5 is a part of the obesity crisis.
Not that BMWs can’t handle well, but modern iterations of the brand spend more time pampering the driver instead of playing the role of the best ever bridge between the road and driver. BMW realizes how it’s left enthusiasts behind, and that’s why the M2 is hitting the market to provide that missing link. While the M2 is an admirable car, how can BMW live on when the only car that its enthusiasts can look up to is the bottom-tier sports car? Sure the i8 is at the top of the food chain, but it competes with sports cars like the Porsche 911 Carrera, not a mind-warping supercar like the McLaren 675LT. Halo cars are always a good selling point for automakers because they show what can be done.
BMW has proved itself on the technological front with the i8, but a raw supercar would give them credibility on par with McLaren and Ferrari in the same way that the Audi R8 does. If any automaker can pull off a well-made supercar and get it to sell in high numbers, it’s BMW. Its first attempt at a supercar with the M1 was a rocky undertaking that ended in strained relationships between BMW and Lamborghini and resulted in only 453 versions ever being built. With the modern engineering might and structural integrity that the brand has, this is the perfect time for BMW to invest in a supercar. As far as looks go, BMW could just stick with the M1 Homage Concept shown off at the 2009 Dubai Auto Show.
Despite how nice the Homage Concept looks, it follows the design of the original too closely. We'd prefer if they just brought rendering artist Giom Mouton onto the design team and built his modern interpretation of the M1 Design Study. The government and our moral compass keeps telling us to stop driving fast cars with huge engines, but the gas pedal of a fast car might is just too tempting an addiction to give up. To further hook us, most automakers (not Volkswagen) have gotten good at sliding under emissions restrictions while building cars with bewildering amounts of power. So why shouldn’t BMW take advantage of this and make a light supercar with an undiluted driving experience? Please BMW, make it happen.