BMW Readying First M Performance Model for U.S.
By Greg Kable
BMW will introduce the first in what will become a line of M Performance models to North America in early 2014 with the M235i coupe. It will take the place of the 1-series M coupe which recently ceased production after a run of more than 6,000 units, some 600 of which were sold in the United States.
BMW is renaming the coupe and convertible versions of the 1-series as the 2-series for the vehicle's second generation. The hatchback retains the 1-series designation.
The M235i coupe, not yet confirmed officially, is set for a debut at the 2014 Detroit auto show. It is the sister model to the M135i hatchback that will go on sale across Europe in September.
Based on the upcoming second-generation 2-series coupe, which is set to debut at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show, the M235i coupe is planned to run the same 316-hp version of BMW's N55 turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine as the M135i hatchback. A BMW M division source divulged to Autoweek that this engine has been certified for U.S. sales.
Alongside a standard six-speed manual gearbox, BMW's first M Performance model for the States will come with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Equipped with standard rear-wheel drive, it will also likely be sold with optional four-wheel drive in selected states.
The M235i coupe won't be the only BMW M Performance in the States for long, though. Following it into showrooms later in 2014 will be the M235i convertible with a fabric roof, four seats and the same driveline.
Since the announcement of its M Performance strategy earlier this year, BMW has added four models to its lineup in Europe--the 375-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel-powered M550d xDrive, the X5 M50d, the X6 M50d and the M135i hatchback.
The M Performance cars are positioned above BMW's regular models but below its hardcore M models in performance, price and positioning. The M Performance models are aimed at challenging rival Audi's S models and a new range of performance-oriented models being readied by Mercedes-Benz under the banner "engineered by AMG" that will be positioned below its regular AMG lineup.
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