During the 1990s, BMW looked for ways to target buyers in new segments. The company briefly toyed around with the idea of introducing a model positioned below the 3 Series, but it ultimately decided against expanding its lineup and opted to purchase Rover instead. We all know how that turned out; Rover is essentially dead today, and BMW’s lineup includes the 1 Series and three different variants of the 2 Series.
An experimental, entry-level version of the M3 based on the 3 Series Compact was built when the company first experimented with the idea of expanding its lineup towards the bottom. We’ll let BMW’s archives department tell its story.
“The idea behind this model was to present younger customers, in particular, with an entry point into the world of BMW M cars. “To a certain extent, the M3 Compact can be regarded as the forefather of today’s BMW M2,” remarks Jakob Polschak, head of vehicle prototype building and workshops at BMW’s M Division.
It’s easy to see why he draws the comparison. If it had gone into production, the M3 engine’s power would in all likelihood have been lowered somewhat. In the prototype, however, it was allowed to unleash its full 321 horsepower, which made easy work of propelling such a lightweight car.”