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FormerlyBMW Motorsport GmbH (1972–1993)
TypeSubsidiary (GmbH)
HeadquartersMunich, Germany
ProductsHigh-performance engines and cars
Automotive sports accessories
ServicesHigh Performance Driver Education, automobile tuning
ParentBMW AG

BMW M GmbH, formerly known as BMW Motorsport GmbH, is a subsidiary of BMW AG that manufactures high-performance cars.

BMW M ("M" for "motorsport") was initially created to facilitate BMW's racing program, which was very successful in the 1960s and 1970s. As time passed, BMW M began to supplement BMW's vehicle portfolio with specially modified higher trim models, for which they are now most known by the general public. These M-badged cars traditionally include modified engines, transmissions, suspensions, interior trims, aerodynamics, and exterior modifications to set them apart from their counterparts. All M models are tested and tuned at BMW's private facility at the Nürburgring racing circuit in Germany.

BMW M also provides M packages for the BMW S1000RR motorcycle, with a limited-production 2021-onwards homologation-special, race-type machine designated M1000RR.



Established in May 1972 with 35 employees,[1] it grew to 400 employees by 1988, and is currently an integral part of BMW's market presence. The first racing project was BMW's 3.0 CSL. After this came the BMW 530MLE in 1976. It was designed to compete in South Africa's Modified Production Series instead of the regular E12 528i. 100 homologated road cars had to be produced for this.[2]

After the success of BMW M products like BMW 3.0 CSL in racing venues and the growing market for high performance sports cars, M introduced cars for sale to the public. The first official M-badged car for sale to the public was the M1, revealed at the Paris Motor Show in 1978. The M1, however, was more of a racecar in domestic trim than an everyday driver. The direction of the M cars changed with the 1979 release of the M535i, which was a high performance version of BMW's popular 5 Series mid-size sedan.

In 1993, BMW Motorsport GmbH changed their name to BMW M GmbH.

BMW Motorsport GmbH supplied the 6.1-litre V12 DOHC 48 valve engine that powers the McLaren F1, which, like its engine supplier and manufacturer, has enjoyed plenty of racing success, famously winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995, the first year of competition for the GTR racing variant.

Recent history[edit]

At present, BMW M has offered modified versions of nearly every BMW nameplate, except for the Z1, 7 Series flagship luxury sedan and the X1 compact crossover SUVs. There is no BMW M version of the 7 Series, as BMW did not want its flagship saloon to be powered by a high-revving engine, and as the recent top-performing versions (usually the BMW 760Li) have V12 engines which while powerful are considered too heavy for a sporty offshoot. So far the unofficial "BMW M7" is the Alpina B7, which is produced on BMW's assembly line though its engine and finishing touches are done by auto tuner Alpina.[3][4][5][6][7] However, as BMW M shifted to turbocharged engines, there are rumors that there is an in-house BMW M7 in the works, and it is speculated that its performance may exceed that of the BMW 760Li and Alpina B7.[8][9]

The BMW X5 and X6 sport activity vehicles received M derivatives for the 2010 model year onwards. These are the first M vehicles with xDrive four-wheel drive and automatic transmissions, and also the first M-badged SUV models. However, the E70 and E71 X5 and X6 M were actually developed by BMW Group rather than by BMW M.

Although these are considered the most well known in-house tuning divisions, BMW M has a considerably different philosophy than Mercedes-AMG. BMW M has emphasized tuning only vehicles with "Lateral agility" (which has long been the 3 Series, 5 Series, and roadsters), while AMG has created high-performance versions of many of its nameplates, including flagship sedans and SUVs. Accordingly, "an M car has to be responsive and fundamentally keen on turning as well as accelerating. The M5's technical spec is all about connecting the driver to a car that reacts blindingly fast, whatever request the driver hands down." Until the 2010 model year, BMW M has also never used supercharging or turbocharging, unlike Mercedes-AMG or Audi; for instance the E39 and E60 iterations of the BMW M5 (using naturally-aspirated engines) competed against the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG (with a supercharged V8) and the Audi RS6 (twin-turbo).[10][11]

BMW M vehicles typically use manual and automatic transmissions (the most recent type being a dual-clutch transmission), in contrast to Mercedes-AMG which largely has automatic transmissions (the 7-speed AMG SpeedShift MCT, which is a multi-clutch automatic transmission, but not a dual-clutch transmission,[12] was used on new models from 2009 onward). However, the North American market E36 M3s in sedan and convertible form were the first M-vehicles offered with a traditional torque-converter automatic transmission.

BMW M engines were traditionally large displacement naturally aspirated high revving engines, particularly the S85 V10 in the E60 M5 and E63 M6 and the related S65 V8 in the E90 M3. These are the most powerful engines BMW has ever built (not including the BMW S70/2) without supercharging or turbocharging, with an output of 100 hp per liter of displacement, and each has won numerous International Engine of the Year Awards.[10][13][14] As late as the early 2000s, BMW regarded forced-induction (supercharging or turbocharging) as low-tech shortcuts to boosting horsepower, stating that this adds weight and complexity while reducing throttle response.[11] BMW purists have noted that while forced induction and/or large displacement does produce more torque for better day-to-day driving, most of them like the "character" and sound of low displacement naturally aspirated engines with high redlines.[15]

However, the late 2000s international regulations trends on reducing CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are cited as the reasons not to continue further development on naturally aspirated high redline engines. The N54 twin-turbo inline-6 which debuted in the 2007 BMW 335i (E90) gives almost equivalent performance to the E46 and E90 iterations of the BMW M3, while being much more practical and fuel-efficient as a daily driver.[16] Starting with the X5 M and X6 M, and featured in the F10 M5, BMW used the twin-turbocharged S63 which not only produces more horsepower and torque, but is also more efficient than the S85 V10. Also unlike the S85 and S65 which do not share a design with non-M BMW engines, the S63 has significant parts commonality with the base N63 V8 engine (which is also has twin turbochargers) making them less expensive to build.[17][18] BMW has not yet considered supercharging.[19]

From 2013, the BMW M3 (E92/E93) is the only "traditional" M car left, as the rest of the list features turbocharged engines, and the next iteration of the M3 (F80) and M4 (F82/F83) features a twin-turbocharged straight-6 engine.[20][21][22][23][24]

M cars versus M-badged cars[edit]

Apart from the pinnacle M versions of each model, BMW Motorsport also offers "M Sport" accessories upgrades to cars in its lineup. This single purchase option, which is superior to the standard Sports Package, includes a more sporty suspension, sports steering wheel and gearshift, fully-adjustable sport seats, sports wheels and a sports aerodynamic package. Cars with the "M Sport" option, while not being the pinnacle M model of each series are considerably sportier than the stock model.

Vehicles with the "M Sport" upgrade feature smaller M badges on the wheels, front fenders, steering wheel, gearshift and door sills, whilst fully-fledged M cars have larger "M" badges on the grille and/or trunk, wheels, steering wheel, gearshift and door sills with the model number (e.g., "M4" or "M5"). The exceptions include the M Roadster and M Coupe models, both Z3, Z4 and 1 Series variants, which only have an "M" badge with no number displayed on the boot. However, these cars are still proper M cars.

BMW has offered these 'M Sport' options on their standard vehicles since the late 1970s which explains why these vehicles carry M badges straight from the factory. In comparison, vehicle maker Audi also employs this same type of nomenclature. There are fully fledged 'S' models (S4, S5, S6, S7 and TTS), as well as an optional 'S'-line package that can be equipped to their standard vehicle lineup.[25]

An example of 'M'-badged vehicles in recent times includes the 5 Series and 6 Series only having a choice of either a manual or automatic transmission, but the 'M' Sport package had an optional Sequential Sport Gearbox (SSG) (a gearbox similar to the M5 and M6 (SMG)) until after the 2007 model year.

Exclusive M cars[edit]

Two models, the M1 (1978–1981) and XM (2022–present), are not pinnacle versions of an existing BMW model, but rather, are ground-up performance models produced and sold exclusively in their M variant. Sometimes labelled as "M Original" cars, these models represent flagship performance and design for the M brand.[26][27][28]

M Performance models[edit]

In 2012 BMW introduced a new category for M cars, branded as M Performance, designed “to bridge the gap between M Sport variants and the outright M high-performance models.“[29] The lineup included the diesel-powered M550d in saloon and touring body styles, X5 M50d, and X6 M50d, marking the first diesel-powered BMW models to ever carry M-badging. The gasoline-powered M135i debuted shortly after.

BMW has since announced M Performance variants of nearly every model in their lineup, including three new electric models, the i4, ix and the i7.


  • The 2010 X5 and X6-based M vehicles bore their normal model designations followed by the "M" stripe badge (the X5 M and X6 M). If the nomenclature followed tradition, then they would have had an MX5 and MX6, already used by Mazda.[30][31]
  • The Z3-based M Roadster and M Coupe bore numberless "M" badges as standard fitment.
  • The first generation Z4-based Z4 M Roadster and Z4 M Coupe bore their normal model designations followed by the "M" stripe badge (the Z4 M Roadster and Z4 M Coupe).
  • The M635CSi followed the M535i naming tradition but was a fully-fledged M-Car (the M6).
  • The BMW 1 Series-based M cars is called the BMW 1 Series M Coupe to avoid confusion with the original BMW M1.

List of Cars[edit]

Current M Original cars[edit]

  • XM – G09 (2022–)

Current M cars[edit]

  • M2 – G87 coupé (2023–)
  • M3 – G80 saloon, G81 estate (2021–)
  • M4 – G82 coupé, G83 cabriolet (2021–)
  • M5 – F90 saloon (2017–)
  • M8 – F92 coupé, F91 convertible, F93 Gran Coupé (2019–)
  • X3 M – F97 (2019–)
  • X4 M – F98 (2019–)
  • X5 M – F95 (2020–)
  • X6 M – F96 (2020–)

Current M Performance models[edit]

Previous M cars[edit]

Production Model Type Displacement Engine Type Power Body Production Number Image
1978–1981 M1 E26 3.5-litre l6 204 kW (277 PS) Coupe 453[35] BMW M1, front right (Brooklyn).jpg
1980-1984 M535i E12 3.5-litre l6 160 kW (220 PS) Sedan with 4 doors 1,410[36] 1981BMW M 535i (5969143588).jpg
1984-1989 M 635 CSi E24 3.5-litre l6 191 kW (260 PS) to
210 kW (290 PS)
Coupe 5,859[37] Bmw 6er sst.jpg
1985-1988 M535i E28 3.5-litre l6 136 kW (185 PS) to
160 kW (220 PS)
Sedan with 4 doors 9,483[38] 1986 BMW M535i (E28) sedan (2015-06-04) 01.jpg
1985-1988 M5 E28 3.5-litre l6 210 kW (290 PS) Sedan with 4 doors 2,191[39] M5sig (E28).jpg
1986-1991 M3 E30 2.3-litre
l4 143 kW (194 PS) to
175 kW (238 PS)
17,184 (Coupe)[40]
786 (Convertible)[41]
BMW M3 E30 front 20090514.jpg
1988-1995 M5 E34 3.6-litre 3.8-litre l6 232 kW (315 PS) to
250 kW (340 PS)
Sedan with 4 doors
Station wagon (since 1992)
11,336 (Sedan);
891 (Station wagon)[42]
BMW M5 (16249758041).jpg
1990 M8 E31 6.0-litre V12 410 kW (558 PS) Coupe 1 prototype
1992-1999 M3 E36 3.0-litre
l6 179 kW (243 PS) to
236 kW (321 PS)
Sedan with 4 doors
71,242[43][44] BMW M3 E36 coupe.jpg
1996-2002 M Roadster
M Coupe
3.2-litre l6 179 kW (243 PS) to
236 kW (321 PS)
6,291 (Coupe);[45]
15,375 (Roadster)[46]
BMW Z3 M - Flickr - Alexandre Prévot (cropped).jpg
1998-2003 M5 E39 5.0-litre V8 294 kW (400 PS) Sedan with 4 doors 20,482[47] BMW M5 (2002) - Flickr - The Car Spy (24).jpg
2000-2006 M3 E46 3.2-litre
4.0-litre (GTR)
252 kW (343 PS) to
279 kW (379 PS)
85,744[48] BMW M3 Coupé E46 (14245863196) (cropped).jpg
2005-2010 M5 E60
5.0-litre V10 373 kW (507 PS) Sedan with 4 doors
Station wagon (since 2007)
19,522 (Sedan);
1,025 (Station wagon)[49]
BMW M5 E60 - Flickr - Alexandre Prévot (2) (cropped).jpg
2005-2010 M6 E63
5.0-litre V10 373 kW (507 PS) Coupe
Convertible (since 2006)
9,087 (Coupe);
5,065 (Convertible)[50]
BMW M6 E63 - Flickr - Alexandre Prévot (15) (cropped).jpg
2006-2008 Z4 M Roadster
Z4 M Coupé
3.2-litre l6 252 kW (343 PS) Roadster
4,275 (Coupé);[51]
5,070 (Roadster)[52]
BMW Z4 M Roadster02.JPG
2007-2013 M3 E90
4.4-litre (CRT & GTS)
V8 309 kW (420 PS)
331 kW (450 PS)
Sedan with 4 doors
9,606 + 68 M3 CRT (Sedan);
39,954 + 138 M3 GTS (Coupé);
16,219 (Convertible)[53]
BMW M3 E92 - Flickr - Alexandre Prévot (8) (cropped).jpg
2011-2012 1M Coupe E82 3.0-litre l6 250 kW (340 PS) Coupe 6,342[54] BMW 1M - Flickr - Alexandre Prévot (7) (cropped).jpg
2009-2013 X5 M E70 4.4-litre V8 408 kW (555 PS) SAV 8,974[55] BMW X5M (9314586495).jpg
2009-2014 X6 M E71 4.4-litre V8 408 kW (555 PS) SAV 10,678[56] BMW X6 M (E71) – Frontansicht, 26. Juni 2011, Düsseldorf.jpg
2011-2016 M5 F10 4.4-litre V8 412 kW (560 PS) to 441 kW (600 PS) Sedan with 4 doors 19,533[49] BMW M5 F10 (8694398487).jpg
2012-2018 M6 F06/F12/F13 4.4-litre V8 412 kW (560 PS) to 441 kW (600 PS) Sedan with 4 doors
6,719 (Sedan with 4 doors);
4,515 (Coupe);
4,318 (Convertible)[57]
2012 BMW M6 (F13) coupe (2018-11-27) 01.jpg
2013-2018 X5 M F85 4.4-litre V8 423 kW (575 PS) SAV 12,915[58]
2014-2018 M3 F80 3.0-litre l6 317 kW (431 PS) to 338 kW (460 PS) Sedan with 4 doors 33,414 + 1,263 M3 CS[59] 2017 BMW M3 (F80) sedan (2018-08-31) 01.jpg
2014-2019 X6 M F86 4.4-litre V8 423 kW (575 PS) SAV 9,794[60]

M-badged cars[edit]

All these cars are true BMW Motorsport models, not M-line sport models that bear BMW Motorsport features such as sport body kits, and interior specs.

  • E12 M535i (1979–1981) – often considered the first mass-production vehicle built by BMW Motorsport
  • E31 850CSi (1992–1996) – an M car in all but name; it had a BMW M–sourced engine and its VIN indicated that it was developed by BMW Motorsport, like all other M cars.[61]

M-engined cars[edit]

In the late 1980s, due to prohibitive taxes for cars above 2.0-litres of engine displacement in Italy and Portugal, BMW decided to build the E30 320is as an alternative to the 2.3-litre M3. This car was equipped with a shorter stroke S14 engine and produced 192 PS. BMW produced a total of 3648 units between 9/1987 and 11/1990 of which a majority of 2542 units were made available in two-door form (code name AK95). No catalytic converters were installed on this limited version. The steering rack, springs, shock absorbers, and brakes were similar to the normal E30 6-cylinder models (i.e. 325i) with sports suspension. The engine was mated to a Getrag 265 5-speed transmission in dog-leg configuration.[62]


Audi's RS models, Mercedes-Benz's AMG models, and Lexus F models are often reviewed in direct competition to a similarly sized BMW M car, such as the Lexus IS-F vs. Audi RS4 vs. Mercedes C63 AMG vs. BMW M3.[63]

In contrast to aftermarket tuners, Alpina BMW-based cars are currently mostly built by BMW on its production lines and are more comfort-oriented. Alpina is recognized as a car manufacturer and works very closely with BMW, sometimes participating in the development of BMW models and engines. Some Alpina models are even sold in North-America by BMW and either compete with the BMW M6 Gran Coupé, in the case of the Alpina B6 Gran Coupé, or replace them, in the case of the Alpina B7 as there is no M7 variant of the 7 Series to compete with the model.[64]

BMW M also faces competition from several independent companies offering their own performance versions of BMW models; some performance packs can be retrofitted to existing cars while others are applied to new cars bought directly from BMW AG and converted prior to first registration. Such companies include Hamann Motorsport, Dinan Cars, G-Power, AC Schnitzer and Hartge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Siuru, Bill (July 2012). "M At Forty". Roundel. 44 (7): 66–72. ISSN 0889-3225.
  2. ^ "The forgotten ancestor of BMW M cars: on track in the 530 MLE". Motor Sport Magazine. 26 July 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  3. ^ "2007 BMW Alpina B7 - Road Test - Auto Reviews". Car and Driver. July 2007. Archived from the original on 21 August 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Chicago 2010: BMW Alpina B7 Sedan Making a Comeback". 11 February 2010. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  5. ^ "2007 BMW ALPINA B7 Review by Staff". 2 May 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  6. ^ "2011 BMW 750Li Alpina B7 First Drive". 20 May 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  7. ^ "2011 BMW ALPINA B7".
  8. ^ "2011 BMW M7". 28 May 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  9. ^ Berkowitz, Justin (1 June 2012). "BMW Interested in M7 Version of Next-Gen 7-series". Car and Driver. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  10. ^ a b "2005 BMW M5 vs. 2005 Mercedes-Benz e55 AMG - Full Metal Rockets - Luxury Road Test". Motor Trend. 13 December 2010. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  11. ^ a b "BMW 760Li - First Drive Review - Car Reviews". Car and Driver. 1 March 2003. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Mercedes-AMG's MCT Transmission Explained in Layman's Terms". 26 October 2016.
  13. ^ "BMW M7".
  14. ^ "INTERNATIONAL ENGINE OF THE YEAR 2010". Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  15. ^ "Life & Death of BMW's Naturally Aspirated Engine". BimmerFile. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Report: BMW M3 Sedan may not live to see another generation". Autoblog. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Report: BMW's M division moving to four and six-cylinder turbos". 19 March 2009. Archived from the original on 13 April 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  18. ^ "Future BMW M Cars Moving To Smaller Capacity Turbo Engines | Reviews | Prices | Australian specifications". 28 November 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  19. ^ "BMW M GmBH Head Friedrich Nitschke On M Diesels for U.S. and M-tuned i Models, Our Love of Manuals | Car and Driver Blog". 18 April 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  20. ^ "2011 BMW 1 Series M vs 2011 BMW M3 Comparison". Motor Trend. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  21. ^ "Thoughts on the Upcoming BMW 1 Series M Coupe « Work, Wine and Wheels". 14 December 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  22. ^ "2010 BMW M3 Coupe 4.0L V8 6-speed Manual Reviews". 9 March 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  23. ^ "BMW introduces 440HP V6 engine from 2012 for the future M3". BMWCoop. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  24. ^ "Report: Next BMW M3 to Get 450-hp Twin-Turbo Six | News". 23 March 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  25. ^ "Audi 2013 vehicle lineup". Audi. Archived from the original on 2 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  26. ^ "The first-ever BMW XM". Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  27. ^ "From the Archive: The History of the BMW M1". Car and Driver. 15 November 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  28. ^ "The First-Ever BMW XM: A BMW M Original". Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  29. ^ "The new BMW X6 debuts with the BMW M Performance Models". 26 January 2012.
  30. ^ Press Release: The BMW X5 M. The BMW X6 M.>
  31. ^ Top Gear: M Battle>
  32. ^ "BMW's M760Li xDrive offers up private jet luxury and speed at ground level". 12 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  33. ^ "2017 BMW M760Li: Finally Applying M to the 7". 11 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  34. ^ "This is BMW's new 600bhp M760Li XDrive". Top Gear. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  35. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E26 M1".
  36. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E12 M535i".
  37. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E24 M635CSi + M6".
  38. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E28 M535i".
  39. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E28 M5".
  40. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E30 M3".
  41. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E30 M3 convertible".
  42. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E34 M5".
  43. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E36 M3 3.0".
  44. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E36 M3 3.2".
  45. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E36/8 M coupe".
  46. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E36/7 M roadster".
  47. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E39 M5".
  48. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E46 M3".
  49. ^ a b "BMW M Registry - FAQ F10 M5".
  50. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E63 + E64 M6".
  51. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E85 M Roadster".
  52. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E86 M Coupe".
  53. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E90 + E92 + E93 M3".
  54. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E82 1 Series M Coupe".
  55. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E70 X5 M".
  56. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ E71 X6 M".
  57. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ F06 + F12 + F13 M6".
  58. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ F85 X5 M".
  59. ^ "BMW M3 and BMW M4 Forum - View Single Post - F80 M3 Complete Model Life Production Data".
  60. ^ "BMW M Registry - FAQ F86 X6 M".
  61. ^ "850CSi @". Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  62. ^ "BMW 320is @". Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  63. ^ "BMW M3 vs. Audi RS4 vs. Cadillac CTS-V vs. Lexus IS-F vs. Mercedes C63 AMG". The Truth About Cars. 23 February 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  64. ^ Fung, Derek (25 November 2014). "BMW M7 not needed, Alpina B7 covers that niche, according to BMW exec | CarAdvice". Retrieved 30 August 2015.

External links[edit]