For a few years now, we’ve been noticing a trend. BMW is putting M badges at the front of M Performance cars. If memory serves me well, it started in 2021 with the facelifts for the X3 M40i and X4 M40i. Save for a few cars such as the Z4 M40i and iX M60, all the other not-quite-M models now proudly carry the “world’s most powerful letter.”

The 2025 M240i is the latest M Lite car to get the famous letter. However, BMW decided to do things differently by mounting the badge unusually low. The other M Performance cars typically carry the logo on one of the kidneys but the German luxury brand chose to mount it on the air intake. It’s an odd placement and frankly makes the car look like someone upbadged a lesser 230i version.

Then there’s the car’s name–M240i. Although the new M135i has lost the “i” that has historically stood for fuel injection, the new-ish M Performance 2 Series Coupe is keeping it. However, BMW has already announced it will drop the last character on all of its gasoline models. It seems the plan is to make the change on next-generation cars. In the meantime, it’s a bit odd not to follow a cohesive nomenclature across the lineup.

BMW appears to be experimenting with badges. To the untrained eye, the M135 gives the impression it’s an “M1” when viewed from afar. The first two characters of the model’s designation have the same size while the remaining “35” are smaller. That isn’t the case with the updated M235i since all letters and numbers have the same size.

<p>2025 BMW M135</p>
<p>2025 BMW M240i</p>

With its latest wave of M Performance cars, BMW has been narrowing the gap to the real M cars. Well, at least visually. Aside from the extra badges, the pseudo-M cars have received sportier-looking side mirror caps and even a quad exhaust system. The M135, X1 M35i, and X2 M35i now have four tips, with the next-gen M235 Gran Coupe to follow later this year. Meanwhile, the new X3 arriving this month will have an X3 M50 variant with a quad exhaust as well.

BMW M has been bundling sales of M Performance cars with the full-fat Ms for quite some time now. Come to think of it, the i4 M50 was crowned the best-selling vehicle from the M division in 2022 and 2023. These lesser-tier Ms are available across the lineup, from the compact M135 to the big-boy M760e.

BMW is smart to capitalize on the brand equity of the M designation to sell more cars. That said, some hardcore fans scoff at the idea of an M Performance model sharing the same letter with a fully fledged M. This strategy is a double-edged sword since you might gain some M Performance customers but there’s a risk of losing buyers of true M models. We reckon the bean counters from Munich have done the math and the numbers work in BMW’s favor.

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Last Update: June 13, 2024

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