Interview with Frank Van Meel – BMW M CEO

By Marc Rutten

The introduction of the brand new BMW M2 Competition marked the opportunity for me to sit down with BMW M’s Boss, Frank van Meel, to discuss the future of the brand that has pioneered concepts that guarantee pure driving pleasure, encompasses an history of motorsport and sheer driving passion every single day – on the road or on the track.

A few days ago at an undisclosed location near Munich, Frank ran me through the highlights of the M2 Competition during an exclusive first look at the vehicle. The M2C is the replacement to the current M2, which has been with us for the last two years. The highly successful and best-selling M-car has proved that the market was desperately looking for a M-car positioned at a lower price point.

With the M2, the Germans found a sweet spot positioned in between the hot hatch market, with models such as the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R and the Volkswagen Golf GTI and more expensive sports car like the Porsche Cayman (S) and Audi TT-RS. With the release of the M2 Competition, BMW M aims to keep this position and strengthen it with a more capable vehicle still based around a winning formula.

MR: What is the story/idea behind the M2 Competition?

FvM: The main idea behind the M2 Competition is the aim for us as a brand to develop a four-way product line up for BMW M models, the so called; Base, Competition, CS and CSL model hierarchy. This is our aim for the future, and therefore a M2 Competition model was the logical next step in the lineup of the M2.

MR: What does the M in the M2 Competition stand for?

FvM: More…

MR: In what way is the M2 Competition an evolution of something that should perhaps have been there from the beginning?

FvM: The initial M2 was always intended to be like it is now and has been over the past years. The newly developed M2 Competition is based on a large number of ideas we had internally and, was in my opinion a natural development following the success of the base M2 Coupé. The steps we have taken on driving dynamics and performance are in my opinion the right steps and a natural development within the timeline of the model. Although there was never a requirement from within the market to create the M2 Competition.

MR: Why opt for the S55 engine and introduce such a massive change to the key character of the M2?

FvM: During the development of the M2 Competition, we faced a major challenge with regards to the N55 engine due to a number of reasons. First of all, we felt we pushed the engine performance to its limits. 370 horsepower is a great number, but we wanted more. Secondly, we needed changes to meet the new European emissions standards, and so a business decision was made to move to the S55 engine and develop a brand new exhaust system for the M2 Competition which includes the same particulate filter as on the M4.

Read full interview here.

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