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Tony O'Kane | Nov 28, 2008

Ever-toughening emissions laws and the rising production costs of its sophisticated hi-po engines has reportedly forced BMW to switch from high-revving naturally-aspirated motors to more efficient and cheaper-to-build turbocharged mills for its M lineup of sportscars.

The X6 xDrive M will be the first model to use the marque's new force-fed performance engines, with a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 4.4 litre V8 delivering as much as 373kW and 700Nm being shoehorned into its engine bay. Despite the huge figures, the force-fed V8 still manages to produce better fuel economy and lower emissions than the M5's 5.0 litre V10, while significant parts commonality with other BMW bent-eights means the boosted motor is cheaper to build.

BMW_E92_engine

The X6 M's twin-turbo V8 will soon see service in the upcoming replacement for the current M5, with a transplant into the next-gen M6 the logical next step. The M3's S65B40 V8 (above) will also go the way of the dodo, although whether it gets replaced by the M5's twin-huffer V8 or a juiced-up version of the 335i's twin-turbocharged inline six has yet to be decided.

Stop-start technology and regenerative braking are also under consideration by BMW's M division, as is a performance-oriented hybrid system.

While we welcome BMW's commitment to making the world of high-performance motoring a greener place, we can't help but wonder if some of the qualities that made previous M cars so enjoyable will get lost in the process. Yes, there's no doubt that turbocharged motors will be able to deliver the power, but will M aficionados brought up on a diet of manic, highly-responsive naturally-aspirated motors warm to the new powerplants? We'll have to wait and see.

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