Originally Posted by ATS
I really like your idea, but I'm afraid that if the M Division ventures into developing such a car, it would be aimed at something like the Audi R8 to justify the extremely high development costs of an exclusive M model.
You're probably right -- I'm just dreaming out loud from the perspective of someone who is an old school M fan at heart, but who also understands how and why BMW is adapting the M brand to the modern world.
For BMW to make an "M Cayman" -- a car that I think would bring immeasurable added excitement to the brand -- they *could* start with a bespoke chassis and leverage their mainstream parts bin for most of the mechanical bits.
The 1M is a seriously cool car, but imagine how much better it could have been if the same (or slightly modified) mechanicals could have been stuffed into a purpose-built 2 seat chassis (smaller, lighter, lower center of gravity) and body that make ample use of lightweight materials. I've never driven a 1M or Cayman R, but almost every review I read said the Cayman edged the 1M as a driver's car because it's a naturally lighter and better balanced car from the ground up. BMW made the most out of the E82, but the modified E90 chassis foundation has inherent limitations as a sports car.
So, to belabor the point, I think an M chassis is all that's keeping BMW from building a Porsche-equivalent (or maybe even better) sports car that could really excite the old school M base. Since the 1M cost around $45-50K, I'll blindly hypothesize that this car could go for $70-80K if BMW can re-use many of the basics and hold back on unnecessary electronics and other non-performance features.
IMO, a 350HP, 3,000 lb. 2-seater M sports coupe for $70-80K would be a winner that bridges old school and new school -- not far from the old Z4M, but modernized as needed for the new reality (turbos, etc.) But I also think you're correct that BMW would aim higher (if not necessarily better) with an R8-ish car showcasing all the latest technology bits as that seems to be their push these days.