A lot has changed since Franciscus van Meel took charge of BMW M in January 2015, his mark on the brand indelible despite just three years in the job. We now have a four-wheel drive M5, fully fledged X3 and X4 M cars on the way, and torque converter automatic gearboxes prevalent throughout the M car range.
Today comes the news that van Meel is off to pastures new, heading up BMW's 'Total Vehicle' development, with Markus Flasch taking on the M Division role. And yes, Markus Flasch is his real name; having been in charge of 8 Series development, which has been received very well thus far, it's an encouraging appointment.
While some of van Meel's decisions as M boss may have proven less than popular with purists - extending the M Performance range to more SUVs stands out - it should be noted how many great M cars there have been since January 2015. The aforementioned M5 is fantastic, the M4 GTS and CS - while expensive - have proven how good this era of M3/M4 can be, and the M2 is a proper little M car hooligan. Part of van Meel's strategy was to introduce tiers of M cars above the standard versions - Competition and CS we've seen, with CSL to follow - and it's difficult to argue with the talents of those thus far. The M8 has been under van Meel's tutelage as well, and expectations are running very high for that.
So while there was some apprehension around a former Audi man taking the helm at M, it's hard to be too downbeat on Franciscus van Meel's tenure as Chairman of the M Board. The cars aren't perfect, sure, and some will see the broadening of the brand as a dilution, but we still have an M5 that'll do obscene oversteer, an M4 that's in contention as one of the best sports coupes out there and an M2 that boasts more than 400hp for less than £50k. Doesn't sound too bad. Consider us intrigued about the remaining M products remaining with his influence, and the new cars Markus Flasch can conjure up.