2012 Geneva Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- BMW has confirmed that it will add a turbocharged gasoline hatch with rear-wheel drive to its M Performance Automobiles range.
- Sources insist the M135i will be on sale in Europe as early as July, featuring a 320-horsepower version of the N55 turbocharged, straight-6, 3.0-liter gasoline motor.
- The concept car will debut at the upcoming 2012 Geneva Auto Show.
MUNICH, Germany — BMW has confirmed that it will add a turbocharged gasoline hatch with rear-wheel drive to its M Performance Automobiles range.
The Concept M135i hatch has assuaged fears that the new brand, which launched its first car a week ago, would be an exclusively diesel and all-wheel-drive company.
While officially dubbed a concept car for the 2012 Geneva Auto Show in early March, sources insist the M135i will be on sale in Europe as early as July, featuring a version of the N55 turbocharged 3.0-liter gasoline straight-6 motor.
BMW admits only that the rear-drive Concept M135i will have "more than 300 horsepower," though sources insist the production number will be 320 hp.
It will combine direct fuel injection with variable valve timing and lift and a twin-scroll turbocharger to flesh out its torque curve as well, though BMW refuses to confirm a torque figure.
There had been widespread rumors that the M Performance Automobiles brand, which launched with the Europe-only, tri-turbo M550d xDrive, would remain an exclusively diesel and all-wheel-drive brand.
The arrival of the Concept M135i confirms BMW's intention to flesh out its "straddle" sub-brand, created to cross the gap between the standard BMW range and the powerhouse M models, throughout its full model range.
Production plans involve only the three-door hatch, with visual changes including a deeper, more menacing front air intake. The lower intake includes a deep front splitter flanked by a pair of intakes on its sides for cooling.
It will also use wider rear bodywork to accommodate larger 18-inch wheels and tires along with bigger brakes, while the tail boasts a pair of chrome exhaust tips.
It will have tweaks to its chassis package, too, with stiffer springs, dampers and antiroll bars and a more aggressive skid-control system for its Sport mode.
Edmunds.com says: No word yet on whether this will be a "Europe-only" model like the M550d, but given the strong response to the 1M coupe, there's a much better chance we'll see this Stateside.