As a luxury car maker, BMW takes its job very seriously. It is very apparent in the quality of the cars they produce. Its reputation speaks for itself. BMW takes pride in producing high-quality and good-looking cars, cars that are excelling in almost every category. They are known to be constantly pushing forward to make their best better. They are committed to create innovative, dynamic, and exceptionally designed cars.
It is no secret that BMW has a solid strategy when it comes to keeping their product new and competitive. They periodically introduce new models in each of its product lines – a strategy to keep their products in the introduction and growth phases. They also don’t keep declining products in the market. BMW also has a way in keeping their car names simple and systematic. They don’t go through the process of thinking what to name their cars. They do it in a certain way by using Germanic alphanumeric naming system. Their models have a series number 1 to 8. Larger odd numbered series means a bigger car while the even numbered series are for the body style variants. The next two numbers in the model name indicates the size of the engine – the bigger the number, the bigger and powerful the engine is. Then there are Lines and Models. All of which have different looks, feels, and features but all made to excel in all ways possible. One of the series they have is the BMW M Series.
The BMW M, formerly known as BMW Motorsport GmbH, was initially created to facilitate its racing program. With the success of the M products in racing venues and as the market for high performance cars increases, they introduced M-badged cars to the public. It was then added to the BMW’s vehicle portfolio. People today know the M Series to be the modified higher trim models, specially modified by the BMW’s M Division. It is the high performance version of numerous BMW models. With the M Division’s success, it has now become an integral part of BMW’s market presence.
Through the years, the M Division launched and released many M-badged vehicles – that lead us to the question, what is the best BMW of the M Series? There are plenty of cars to choose from and they all have different power, looks, and features. We narrowed down the number by gathering data and reviews from different websites, in no particular order, here are our top picks:
- BMW M1 – With the BMW Motorsport Division wanting to compete in motorsports using a car that is made for competition racing, they had to make 400 road-worthy examples of the car for them to take part in the motorsport as it is one of the requirements at that time. The development of the M1 was already initiated and the company teamed up with Lamborghini to help them. Lamborghini helped work out the details of the car's chassis, assemble prototypes and manufacture the vehicles. Sudden conflicts arose and ended the partnership which caused BMW to produce the needed cars themselves. It resulted with the original M car that was launched in 1978. It was made available to the public as the BMW M1 – a classic that is still sought-after even today. It has a 3.5 L, M88/1 petrol six-cylinder engine with Kugelfischer-Bosch mechanical fuel injection and Magneti-Marelli ignition system. It has 273bhp, 400 pounds of torque, and with a max speed of 162mph. It is also quite fashionable for its time with its sharp Italian design. The interior has leather and cloth seats, center console, power windows, air conditioning, light-up buttons, and stereo. The car still looks legendary today thanks to the stunning Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed bodywork. You can probably find an original M car today in the garage of car enthusiasts or collectors. It was priced for $60,000 and as there are only 453 M1 built for production, it costs more now. Last seen post of someone selling it, it was being sold for $250,000.
- BMW M3 E30 – It was first presented to the public in 1985. It was intended to be a homologation special to meet the rules of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft and Group A Touring, a rule that requires building a total of 5,000 cars. Today, the M3 E30 has been hailed as one of the best-handling cars. It is powered by BMW S14 4-cylinder engine and rated at 143 kW, 195 PS or 192 hp and had a top speed of 146 mph that could hit 0–60 in 6.5 seconds. The M3 became a hit with its dominant force, its unique body panels, its black leather interior, and its attractive chassis design. Its lightweight, high revving, and compact features made it ideal for any racing purposes. True enough, the M3 E30 won several titles in the 1987 WTCC, 1987 and 1989 DTM, 1988 and 1991 BTCC, 1987 ATCC, 1987-90 French Supertouring and the Italian Superturismo series in 1987 and 1989-91, and the 1987 Tour de Corse. The M3 E30 also validates the BMW’s reputation that builds luxury cars that are race-worthy as well.
- BMW E9 3.0 CSL – CS in the CSL means Coupe Sports while L is for Lightweight. Like the M3 E30, the E9 3.0 CSL was also built as a homologation. This time, to get the BMW into the European Touring Car Championship – which they won the Drivers title six times in the years 1973 and 1975 to 1979. Aside from that, the CSL also competed in Group 5 Special Production guise, and won three rounds of the 1976 World Championship for Makes. It has a 3.2 Litre 12v Inline 6 petrol engine and can produce up to 180 horsepower, 190 pound-feet of torque with max speed up to 138mph. This model was 440 pounds lighter compared to the similar cars at that time. The most famous version of the BMW E9 3.0 CSL was equipped with aerodynamic spoilers and prominent tail fins, earning a nickname from car enthusiasts and the likes as the “Batmobile”.
- BMW M5 E28 – The E28 BMW 5-series, was its breakthrough executive saloon, it was released in 1981. In 1984, the very first M5 was revealed in an Amsterdam motor show. When it was launched in 1985, it was the fastest four-door car that was sold to the public. It is a historic car. The idea of putting an M1 engine into their most popular saloon is somehow crazy but it turned out amazing. Today, it remains as one of the finest performance saloons ever. It has a 3.5-litre, six-cylinder engine, with 282bhp and a max speed of 156mph. The M5 E28 was awarded “Model of the Year 1988” in North America.
- BMW M3 E46 – At the time of its launching in the late 2000s, the BMW M3 E46 was the king of the road. It has an S14 engine – which many considered to be among the top naturally aspirated powertrains at that time. It has a 333bhp, an 8,000rpm red-line, a maximum speed of 155mph, electronic-throttle control, and steering-wheel paddle-shifters option for the 6 speed transmission. The M3 E46 can be equipped with a manual gearbox or the semi-automated SMG – both with six gears. The lighted rev counter fades as the car reaches optimum temperature, releasing more revs that assure long term reliability for the engine. The M3 E46 is also often commended for having great looks and great performance and consistently winning the prestigious “Engine of the Year” awards.
- BMW M635 CSi E24 – Launched in 1984, the M635 CSi is the top model of the E24 series – the longest series of BMW. It is the first production car that used the M1 race-bred motor. It has a 282bhp variation of the M1 supercar’s M88 unit, 5-speed gearbox and limited slip differential for performance-ready handling. The car’s bulk and weight limits the maximum speed to 158mph and 0-60mph acceleration to 6.4 seconds. It has been dubbed as “Shark-nose” or “Bayern-express” because of its unique front design. It is an 80’s icon. It has an old-school effect on it with its black rubber boot spoiler and it’s no wonder it is now considered as a collector’s item.
- BMW M5 E39 – It is the first of its kind to get a V8 or S62 engine. The V8 is a rather fine specimen that mobilises 400 hp and a powerful torque of 500 Nm at just 3,800 rpm. The BMW M5 manages to run between 80 and 120 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. It was considered the top of high-tech driving. It is the car that started the German sedan horsepower war of the 2000s. It also has the elite vibe on it with its handsome interior. Car and Driver called it “the most desirable sedan in the world” in the year 2000.
- BMW M3 E36 – The first M Division model that was launched to the masses. It was also the first M3 that was not produced for any homologation reasons for any motor sport program. It was introduced to the market in 1992 as the second generation of the BMW M3. One of its commendable innovations was the VANOS or the variable camshaft timing. This helps adjust the camshafts in such a way that the maximum torque will always be available both in the partial load range and under full load. It is also powered by BMW S50 straight-six engine, the first M3 to use a 6-cylinder engine. It has a 286 hp which was the maximum output of the BMW M3 when it first went on sale achieving 95.7 hp or 70.4 kW output per litre cubic capacity. It is often referred to as a wolf with sheep’s clothing as it has a straight-line body that makes it look more reserved than powerful.
- BMW 1 Series M Coupe – Launched last 2011, the BMW 1 Series Coupe is already on its way to becoming a sought-after classic. It has this back-to-basics feel with its compact size while still possessing an M-worthy features and power. It is made to be more affordable than the usual and targets the younger drivers with its styling and design. The BMW 1 Series Coupe has a 3.0 litre straight six-cylinder petrol engine and with the use of M TwinPower Turbo technology and optimised direct petrol injection, the output of 340 hp at 5,900 rpm can be achieved. It has a max speed of 155mph and only takes 4.3 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.
- BMW M5 F10 – The fifth generation of the BMW M5 was launched in 2011. While the fourth generation M5 enjoyed the V10 suction engine, the BMW M5 F10 downsized to a newly-developed high-revving 4.4L V8. It was not bad at all. Thanks to the impressive power delivery of the twin turbocharged engine, it produces a maximum output of 560 hp at 6,000 to 7,000 rpm, with 680 Nm at 1,500 rpm, and sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds. With its relatively lower fuel consumption, it is safe to say that it is more appealing than its V10 predecessor.
The BMW M Division has come a long way since it was created. From a group of 35 employees and now it has ten times more than that number. It is their passion to build high-performance cars and that the demands and wishes of the car owners are met. The demands of more agility, power, and dynamics can easily be fulfilled by the BMW M Series. They are constantly improving with each model they make and nothing can stop them. Mister Markus Flasch, head of the BMW M, stated “M is the exaggeration of what BMW stands for, in terms of driving pleasure. M supplements BMW and it’s going to remain this way.” M is indeed an exaggeration. It boosts the power, features, and performance of the already high-performing BMW cars, living up to its reputation of being the ultimate driving machine.