That makes sense for Toyota but not for BMW M where the driving experience should come before everything else as it traditionally has. Top Gear spoke to BMW recently, specifically BMW's product manager for smaller cars Matt Collins, who seems to be aware people disagree with BMW's new direction. He said, "I think a lot of purists look at the M3 all the way back to the E30, so there's obviously a challenge there for people to accept it. If you look at the way the M brand has evolved over the years there are a lot of things that people have had to get used to, for example, going from naturally aspirated to turbocharged engines."
You have to get used to it is BMW's stance. The thing is, you don't. There are other brands out there producing superior drivers cars to BMW at the moment and they seem to be doing a better job at maintaining classic M driving ideals than M now is. Porsche, Mercedes, hell, even Audi, are producing sportier cars than M that are more fun to drive. Mercedes is hitting home run after home run with the Black Series. During this same time BMW is giving us front wheel drives, hybrids, and electric city cars. Go ahead, get used to that. I won't.
Any good news regarding BMW's new direction? Well, BMW is focusing on lightweight materials because having gone with cheap materials (steel frames over aluminum) in their newest generation cars has caused them to balloon in weight while the competition has gotten slimmer leaving BMW no choice but to address the weight gain. "We really want to focus on lightweight engineering. Plus we've got the technology in our ‘i' cars - carbon fibre, reinforced plastic and so forth - so that's where we're really looking to position it. Slightly more lightweight. I wouldn't say ‘racer', but more of a dynamic focus."
Ok, lightweight materials are great and all but does that mean we can finally expect a hardcore track based M variant that can go toe to toe with a Mercedes-Benz AMG Black Series without going into limp mode? "There are no plans at the moment to build a lightweight CSL version of the M4, but there weren't any plans to do the last generation CSL either. We have to see what the customers think, and if there's potential for an even more lightweight version, we'll do it. But I think we're really focusing on making this car as light as we can. We're not going to go halfway house with the ‘real' car, because we'd like to get it as low as possible in the first place. The proper car will showcase a real reduction in weight."
Let me translate the politically correct marketing speak for you to simply say it this way: If we can make money doing it, we'll do it. He leaves the statement ambiguous and states they are focusing on keeping the M4 light so no further engineering or more focused track model will be necessary which is a cop out. Porsche made the 991 generation 911 lighter and more efficient yet somehow a track focused GT3 model still slots in and improves upon the base car. Porsche can do it, BMW can't? The CSL and GTS already show they can and have. But hey, any excuse to save money.
BMW's arrogance is now beyond frustrating. They still think they make the best cars in the world and in this particular segment. They say they don't even target specific competition and that the competition doesn't drive them, "We think the M3 is the benchmark car; it's the iconic car, and it's the one that really defines the segment. Obviously, we look at the competition and we want to make sure we're as good as we can possibly be, but when developing this M4, it's certainly not a case of ‘this is the target'. It's about making what we think is the best car in the segment even better. It's not a competitor-focused development."
The M3 was the iconic car. It was the benchmark. BMW, you should look at your competition. Because they have passed you by. Get used to that.