In a bid to one-up its rivals, BMW M is launching a product offensive that will see as many as 26 new models go on sale by the end of 2020. This follows a similar expansion in the lineup of Mercedes-AMG and Audi S and RS models in recent years, with an accompanying uptick in sales performance.

According to Autocar, this development is being spearheaded by the new G80 BMW M3 sedan and its G82 and G83 M4 coupé and convertible siblings. “Along with the M5, the M3 is a crucial car for BMW M,” said BMW M boss Frank van Meel. “It wasn’t the first fully-fledged M car but it continues to stand for everything the brand is based upon.”

Set to be unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, it will ride on BMW’s modular CLAR platform and utilise a greater proportion of aluminium and high-strength steel, plus a number of carbon fibre components to drop its weight below even the new 1,585 kg M3 CS, despite being larger than ever before.

The next BMW M3 is set to be lighter than even the current hardcore M3 CS

Contrary to earlier reports, the new M3 and M4 won’t use a hybrid powertrain – instead, sources say they will continue to use the existing 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged straight-six, albeit with both mechanical and software upgrades claimed to boost power by nearly 10% to 465 hp – 21 hp more than the outgoing model with the Competition Package and nine more than the CS.

A six-speed manual gearbox will continue to be offered alongside a new eight-speed automatic, sources said, adding that the car will remain rear-wheel drive after plans to provide the M3 and M4 with the fully-variable all-wheel drive system from the new F90 M5 were nixed due to cost and weight concerns.

The new M3 and M4 will be part of the 26 new cars coming in the next two years, including 11 hardcore M models and 15 mid-range M Performance variants. The former will include M versions of the new X3 and X4, along with the already-confirmed M8 and yes, the Z4 M, making a welcome return in the next generation.

The M8, X3 M and Z4 M are all in the pipeline

Also slated for release are M Performance versions of the new X2 and X7, along with next-gen 3 Series – taking on the upcoming Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, GLE 43 and C 43 respectively. Other models like M Performance 4 Series coupé, convertible and Gran Turismo (née 3 Series Gran Turismo) models are being considered but have yet to be green-lighted.

More track-biased models like the M3 and M4 CS are also being planned, with an M2 version coming next year with over 400 hp and various aerodynamic and weight-saving upgrades. On the other end of the spectrum is an M Performance version of the new front-wheel drive 1 Series said to be currently in early development, set to take on the Audi S3 and the upcoming Mercedes-AMG A 35.

Sharing componentry with the X2 M Performance model, it is set to gain all-wheel drive and a hopped-up version of the ubiquitous 2.0 litre turbo four-cylinder engine, mounted transversely in a BMW M first. However, the company has already said it won’t be building a full-on M car with a four-cylinder engine, so that pretty much rules out a 1 Series M.

A M Performance version of the front-wheel drive 1 Series is being developed

Van Meel is the brains behind the product offensive, said to be Munich’s largest and most ambitious yet. Poached from Audi Sport in 2014, where he planned a similar expansion, he is leveraging on a modular drivetrain strategy and innovations sourced from other parts within BMW, such as carbon fibre technologies originally developed for the BMW i sub brand.

“BMW itself has significantly more models than BMW M,” he said. “But we are looking at where we can expand our programme in the future. There is huge potential for growth.

“We are looking at all BMW models to see if we can make an M or M Performance model out of them, although there must be sufficiently large customer demand before we commit. With M Performance, we can reach buyers not possible with classic M models.”