Above: a line-up of all the M5s through history. Some might say that the earlier M5s were more “authentic”, but I’d say they really hit their stride in Generation 3 (2nd from the right). It’s still the one that I’d want most. It’s a little more sedate than the current (with a V8 as opposed to a V10…seriously?) model and I love the little details (like the rear valence with the quad pipes).
I’d say, though, that the M brand is one of the strongest in auto-land. The “M” (Motorsport) division of BMW was founded in 1972, and has been turning out a limited number of selectively modified versions of BMW street cars. Every M car is a ground-up, fully realized version of the BMW “Ultimate Driving Machine” vision.
Side note: did they really scrap that tagline?
Their biggest strength is their trueness to their original purpose. They are a division of BMW dedicated to the advancement of Motorsport. They don’t exist to plus-up normal cars, or to provide a halo for the rest of the brand. M is about function, performance and great design. It certainly doesn’t stand for Marketing, even though it’s a great tool to have at one’s disposal. After all, I can’t think of any negative opinions about BMW M. In the automotive press, they can do no wrong. And it’s my feeling that it’s the same way with drivers.
Another one of their strengths is their strong association with a driver’s identity. BMW M is 100% about driving, and if you’re a “real” driver, and you love “driver’s cars”, then you must for authenticity’s sake drive an M. And this is in stark contrast to Mercedes’ AMG. AMG, today, is about enormous engines and nice wheels, but not much else. It’s about flash and conspicuous consumption. It’s about my AMG SL65 being that much more powerful than your SL 600. And think of all the other brands in this category. Jaguar’s R? Toyota TRD? Mazdaspeed? STi? Cadillac and their -V cars? None command the same authority.
Wouldn’t that be a nice position?
Image Â© BMW AG