BMW M is More About Control than Power, According to the Division’s Head

by Member - BimmerFest Staff on May 4, 2020, 2:21 pm
“Power is nothing without control, right?” That’s how Markus Flasch, the boss of BMW’s M division responds to being asked why power increases have slowed down for the M division.

The question was posed by Australia’s WhichCar, which did the math and figured out that the M5’s horsepower rating increased by 18% between 2010 and 2015, but only by 4% between 2015 and 2020.

But Flasch waves away any talk of gentlemen’s agreements limiting the power of its cars.
“You look 10, 15 years back and if you imagined 625 horsepower in a saloon car, you’d probably be scared,” Flasch told WhichCar. “Now, I can give an M5 this 625 horsepower and only drive to my mom, in winter, and she’d still be okay. It’s all just a question of how you incorporate it into a package that makes it accessible for everyone, and this is what M has always been brilliant in.”

And, to be fair to Flasch, power has always been ahead of control in the automotive world. The WRC has only recently started making cars that are faster than Group B cars were in the ‘80s. Formula 1’s cars made more than a thousand horsepower in the same decade, but both series were marred by tragic accidents.

And while horsepower races are entertaining and welcome, they often fail to deliver on their promises. Cars like the Hellcat are fine but only have one note.

Still, Flasch says that horsepower and control have an ebb and flow relationship so “don’t expect a power limit,” he says.

He also says something that we’ve suspected of being true for some time: manual transmissions are now becoming premium accessories.

“It used to be the entry transmission and then on top of it you had the automatic or the semi-automatic. Today a manual is for the enthusiast; for someone who wears a mechanical watch,” says Flasch. “We made a conscious decision to offer a manual [in the M3 and M4] and the one single market who pushed for that was the United States.”

That may mean that people who want the manual transmission will have to pay extra for it someday, but it may also mean that the manual transmission continues to be a worthwhile expenditure for automakers.

How long that remains true with the approach of more and more electrified vehicles remains to be seen, though. While Flasch did not rule out hybrid or electric drivetrains for M cars, he was clear that the M division will not make a car it does not believe in.

We won’t mess around or compromise the distinct character that our M cars have today,” said Flasch. “An electrified car, whether it’s plug in the wall, battery-electric, has to take it up with the predecessor, and I know that there are physical limits, but within physical limits of working dimensions, we are going to make it happen.”

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