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M5 Touring next wagon on BMW’s local wish list

Mighty M5 Touring could join i5 M60 Touring as BMW responds to wagon interest

1 May 2024

BMW is gearing up for a resurgence of interest in traditional wagons spearheaded by the upcoming i5 M60 Touring and yet-to-be-unveiled new M5 Touring.


It comes as BMW Australia prepares to tread lightly with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) utilising new performance versions for a boost in power rather than fuel misers that could in some way compete with an imminent influx of battery electric models.


The next generation M5 executive express is one expected to employ a PHEV drivetrain embracing an iteration of the V8 twin-turbo hybrid system in the low volume XM.


The prospect of a 500kW-plus all-wheel drive sedan that teams a V8 with an electric motor would give BMW not only low fuel use figures but also a new level of performance for the four-door hero.


“I think it would be a huge success for us in Australia,” said BMW Australia product planning chief Brendan Michel talking hypothetically of a car that is yet to be confirmed.


The local love for a V8 provides instant appeal – even when mixed with electricity – and potentially gathers pace as rivals including Mercedes-AMG retreat from using V8 engines in some models.


“It creates emotion, there’s noise, there’s performance in a world where those types of offering are being phased out, it’s still very important for us to be able to offer that.


But he acknowledged PHEVs were not likely to play a big role in BMW Australia’s growing electrified range, with full battery electric vehicles stealing the eco limelight.


Mr Michel said Australia would consider all upcoming new models but the brand’s experience with PHEVs and the sharpening price on BEVs made full electric models the preferred choice as Australians increasingly warm to more efficient vehicles.


“In certain models it works well for us, there’s areas where it works and there’s areas where maybe it’s not going to work for us.


“If you look at the high-performance segment … adding a plug-in hybrid unit to a V8, it still allows us to retain a V8 – which is important for our market at the moment – but still provide a green offering.


He explained the challenge for PHEVs was the manufacturing complexities that lead to high pricing and also pointed to the number of EVs on the horizon, something that continues to be the prime focus for the brand.


“When you look at other models where our pricing on our BEVs are so good now – if you look at an i4 35, we’ve now got that positioned below where the 330e plug-in hybrid was before we dropped it earlier this year.


And it’s the performance market where Mr Michel believes PHEVs will find their niche.


“For us in our product portfolio and our market that’s probably where it sits best.


“I think there will be a time very shortly when production costs for plug-in hybrids will be much higher than a BEV.


As well as a PHEV, the new M5 will be offered with a wagon body style that adopts the Touring moniker in showrooms and BMW Australia has its hands high in the air for the imminent newcomer, especially following on from the success of the M3 Touring.


“Initial volume forecasts was about 300 units overM3 Touring’s life cycle and we pretty much did that in the first year, something that prompted the request for more stock.


“We’ve exceeded all expectations in the first year.”


Mr Michel believes there’s renewed interest bubbling away for luxury wagons, something he wants to capitalise on.


“It is a bit of a wagon renaissance,” he said, adding that there were benefits beyond the lower-slung look compared with SUVs that now account for around 60 per cent of BMW sales.


“In the BEV world because the SUVs have a larger footprint and less aerodynamics than a wagon, maybe we might see a stronger renaissance towards BEV wagons in the future.

And he thinks there could be some pent-up demand for the upcoming i5 M60 Touring, which uses the 440kW dual motor drivetrain from the i5 M60 packaged into a wagon body.


“Hopefully it’s something that … becomes a strong player for us,” he said.


“There’s nothing else quite like it on the planet, let alone in Australia. It’s unique and it’s for that customer that wants something special and something different.


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