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BMW introduces 2 new models at Detroit auto show

Phil Berg
Special to The Detroit News

BMW introduced two new models Monday at Detroit’s auto show, both cars global worldwide debuts. Both are new entries from the M division, with roots in motor sports with a priority in performance.

The first is the X4M40i, which is a straight-six cylinder 3.0-liter twin-turbo high performance four-door fastback, built in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The second is the M2 coupe, a two-door version of the M1 sedan, also powered by the powerful inline six-cylinder.

"This car is the very soul of what BMW stands for," BMW board member Ian Robertson said.

BMW Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW North America, shows off the BMW X4 M40i at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit on Monday.

BMW has introduced its new transverse engine architecture on the X1 SUV, Robertson said that the company is aware that its identity revolves around short front body overhangs, which was a characteristic of its packaging high-output inline six engines mounted longitudinally.

"Even with a transverse layout we've kept our overhangs shorter," Robertson said.

Even with the styling challenge, however, Robertson said the direction of the company is to promote its hybrid and electric technology, which it calls its "i" cars, such as the i3 and i8 electric cars.

"Ultimately, we need more zero emission cars," Robertson said.

Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of BMW Sales and Marketing, arrives in the BMW M2 on Monday.

The future plans, he added, include using hybrid technology on even the high-performance "M" models, such as the X4M40i and M2 introduced in Detroit.

Performance of the compact M2 coupe is promised to be about four seconds from zero to 60 mph, which is quick by sports car standards.

The M cars are most popular in the U.S., added Robertson.

"The 02 series in 1975 marked our introduction to the U.S. It put BMW on the map." Last year BMW sold 346,000 cars in the U.S., which leads the premium luxury market here.