BMW M might have a solution to the problem.
As BMW moves to front-wheel drive architectures, its performance-focused M division needs to figure out how to turn those models into true, enthusiast-approved cars. That's easier said than done, according to M's top executive.
"That challenge is the biggest challenge, because we want to have a typical M feeling which goes more naturally with rear-wheel drive. If you want to do that with front-wheel drive, I think that's the biggest challenge you can have," said BMW M boss Frank van Meel in an interview with Australian website CarAdvice.
It's possible to build a front-wheel drive performance car. Honda's Civic Type R illustrates one way to do it. But while it has received universal praise, it doesn't deliver the type of driving experience enthusiasts expect from a member of BMW's M brand.
Van Meel suggested the solution could be to build mid-range models sold under the M Performance umbrella rather than full-blown M cars. His comments suggest the current M2 will be the last in the foreseeable future, at least if the rumors of a front-wheel drive 2 Series successor are true.
Bigger models like the 3, the 4 and the 5 will remain rear-wheel drive so the M3, the M4, and the M5 (pictured) aren't going away. However, earlier rumors claim the next-generation M3/M4 will receive a degree of electrification in a bid to keep fuel economy in check.