Connect 4: Nearly BMW M-cars, CAR+ March 2016

Published: 17 February 2016

► Cars as close to an M-badge without having one
► V12’s, diesels, and cars that never made it to the UK
► Powerful lumps, to the one that started it all off 

The one with the twin-turbo V12: M760Li xDrive (2015)

BMW is going AMG S-class hunting for the first time with the new M760Li. While not a full M-car, it boasts a 592bhp twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 (plutocrats don’t do downsizing), four-wheel drive and optional M Performance makeover. It also does 0-62 in 3.9sec and 189mph. On sale in autumn at around £120k.

The one that mixed M badge with diesel: BMW M550d xDrive (2012-)

The one that mixed M badge with diesel: BMW M550d xDrive (2012-)

Original progeny of the BMW M Performance line, the 375bhp M550d was controversial for two reasons: four-wheel drive and diesel power. The one makes sense with the other, since three turbos and 546lb ft means traction can be a precious commodity. Lhd only, but triple-turbo 3.0 also appears in SUVs.

The one that didn’t make it to the UK: BMW 320is (1987-1990)

The one that didn’t make it to the UK: BMW 320is (1987-1990)

Sold only in Italy and Portugal, the 192bhp E30 320is was BMW’s answer to tax laws that made the 2.5-litre 325i unattractive. It makes the cut here as it’s powered by a 2.0 version of the 2.3-litre ‘S14’ engine from the E30 M3. Not to be confused with the later E46 320si (though that’s also special).

The one that actually started it: BMW 530MLE (1976)

The one that actually started it: BMW 530MLE (1976)

Everyone knows everyday M-cars begin with the 1979 E12 M535i, right? Not if you consider the 200 or so 197bhp E12 530 Motorsport Limited Editions built for homologation purposes in South Africa three years earlier. Nor the regular E12 road cars BMW Motorsport had been quietly upgrading since 1974.

Read more from the March 2016 issue of CAR magazine

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