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BMW's M division will ride the hybrid wave with new performance models

As tightly as enthusiasts held onto the glory days of naturally aspirated engines, they’ve been forced to yield to turbocharged, smaller-displacement motors. And as strongly as purists believed manual transmissions lent themselves to the most connected driving experience, they’ve been marginalized more and more over time.

And the prospects for petrol-powered-only powertrains look equally bleak. It started in the racing world, crept into the upper echelons of supercar production, and is now working its way into iconic sports cars like Porsche’s 911, and now BMW’s M vehicles.

Dirk Hacker, BMW M’s vice-president for engineering, confirmed his view that the future of the high-performance vehicles is hybrid and the technology will be used to both lower CO2 emissions and make the models quicker and more responsive.

“We will look at electrification — I think it could be inevitable — but it depends on the possibility of increasing performance,” Hacker told Auto Express.

Related: Porsche’s 911 Will Go Hybrid Before The End of The Decade

Though this might shock M loyalists, Hacker did draw a line in the sand about how forcefully the M brand will swing towards electric power.

“We’ve found that our customers are not interested in driving without the combustion engine,” he noted. “They want to know if these changes will help with performance.” Translation: pure EV’s don’t yet interest BMW’s fans and owners quite yet. And so yes, those who imagined an i8M rolling off the production line in the next few years will do well to put their faith in other prospects.

“We’ll need to look at the weight implications of electrification. What is the compromise? Are we ready now or do we need to take a look at some special structural solutions for the future?”

It sounds like executives at the German automaker’s tuning house aren’t yet sold on when and how hybrid power will work its way into core models, but it’s clear that a hybrid M future is just on the horizon.

There’s a good chance Audi and Mercedes-Benz will have similar announcements about their RS and AMG models shortly, as you can be sure both companies are already following the same line of reasoning.