At one time or another, a BMW brand manager was asked why the Le Mans X5 wasn't given an ///M Badge. His response was, and I paraphrase, "we only put ///M badges on RWD cars with high revving naturally aspirated engines that can be purchased with a manual transmission." It was about as clearly defined as to what ///M "stood" for for the longest time.
As BMW continue to have tremendous commercial success, that definition can't help but to be altered to allow more people to "enjoy" the ///M brand. You can't hold out on some childhood idealism that this is the right way to do things, and therefore it is the ONLY way to do things. So all the rules that makes an ///M car an ///M car, the RWD, the high-revving NA engine, and the manual transmission all had to be tossed out in favor of building the likes of the X5M, X6M, and the 1M.
Does that make them less of M cars than other Ms that came before it? No. ///M is what the ///M department says it is, just as the RWD, NA engine, and manual was once what ///M says ///M stands for. It's not, now.
Which begs the question. If the mighty X5 Le Mans, with its massive 6 liter V-12 outputting 700 HP, and completely redesigned suspension by Motorsports, isn't considered an ///M car...What does that make the X5M?
The hell I don't! LISTEN, KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night! Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!