BMW is hatching plans for a hot entry-level M model based around a new saloon version of the second-generation 1-series.
The compact four-door aims to provide BMW with a direct rival to the upcoming Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG and Audi S3 saloon. The new BMW has already been earmarked to run a highly strung 2.0-litre turbo engine with at least 300bhp.
However, because of the heavy engineering workload facing BMW on existing new model development, the compact M Performance saloon is unlikely to hit the UK until the latter half of 2015 at the earliest.
“We are actively considering it,” said a high-ranking BMW insider. “Do we think there is a potential market? Yes, and it is likely to grow rapidly. If we had the capacity, we would already be well down the road [to production] by now.”
Internal BMW studies reveal that the market for compact performance saloons is set for high growth in key high-volume markets, such as China and North America. With both the S3 saloon and CLA45 AMG due to arrive before the end of next year, BMW officials are keen to fast-track the new model, possibly with contracted engineering, according to sources within automotive component supplier ranks...