BMW M (which stands for Motorsport) was established in the early Seventies, to create BMW racing cars based on its roadgoing models.
The first road car developed by BMW M was the crazy 3.0 CSL two door coupe, launched in 1973, whilst the first car to officially bear the M name was the M1 supercar, revealed at the 1978 Paris Motor Show.
Then came the M535i, the first of BMW’s saloon models to bear the M badge, and the precursor to the now legendary M5.
Today, there are almost as many BMW M models as there are motorways that share their names, but which one is right for you?
Here’s our guide to the current line-up.
BMW M2 Coupé
Launched in 2017, the BMW M2 Coupé is the smallest model in the M range and combines high performance and rear-wheel drive. The unique front and rear skirts optimise air flow and aerodynamics, while sports suspension and an M TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder petrol engine ensure breathtaking performance. If the standard 370bhp isn’t enough, BMW has just launched a 410bhp ‘Competition’ variant.
BMW M3 Saloon
The M3 is the latest in a line of high performance compact saloons to offer M Performance upgrades, and it’s as crazy as ever, with a twin turbo six-cylinder engine developing 431bhp, or 451bhp in Competition tune. It’s available with a six-speed manual or seven speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
BMW M4 Coupé
The M4 Coupe is effectively a two-door version of the M3, and uses the same powertrain, but in a leaner, more sporting bodyshell. It’s stunning inside and out, with special M Sports Seats and optional black gloss alloy wheels, along with a carbon fibre roof and propshaft to keep weight to a minimum, along with ceramic brake discs.
BMW M4 Convertible
Running the exact same drivetrain as the M4 Coupe, the Convertible is a little less hardcore thanks to the extra weight of the roof mechanism. But it’s still thrilling to drive, and putting the roof down allows you to appreciate the six-cylinder soundtrack even more. There’s also a special edition ’30 Jahre’ – a limited run of 300 cars to celebrate 30 years of drop-top M cars.
BMW M5 Saloon
The M5 is the most technologically advanced M car ever, and a real highlight of the BMW line-up. It features the M-Sport Active Differential, which allows the car to enjoy the characteristics of rear-wheel-drive, but applies four-wheel-drive when needed, such as under hard acceleration. If that’s not enough, it has 600bhp and does 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds.
BMW M6 Convertible
If you want a big BMW, but one that offers wind-in-the-hair excitement, then the M6 Convertible is the one. It has a twin turbo V8 engine developing 560bhp, which gives outstanding performance and some real treats for your ears, while it’s also big enough for five to travel in exhilarating comfort.
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
If the M5 is a little too hardcore for you, then the M6 Gran Coupe could be the answer. It still has four doors and a decent-sized cabin, but is wrapped in the sleek 6-Series Gran Coupe body, with slightly less horsepower and a touch more refinement. Don’t let that put you off, though – it’s still a sensational steer.
BMW X5 M
The BMW X5 M combines the spirit of a traditional M car with the functionality of BMW’s high-end SUV. It has a twin turbo V8 petrol engine and eight-speed M Steptronic transmission, as well as traditional M touches such as uprated brakes, unique alloy wheels and M interior details. Don’t be fooled by its bulk – it can still crack 0-60mph in just 4.2 seconds.
BMW X6 M
If the X5 M is a hybrid of SUV and sports car, then the X6 M is even more so, with a unique four-door coupe body mounted onto X5 M running gear. With the first ever full high performance SUV Coupe, BMW has created a new and intriguing niche.