Report: BMW M sticks to rear-wheel drive; manuals if demand

BMW M | February 19th, 2013 by 9
2012 bmw m550d xdrive 51 750x500

In an interview with Autocar UK, BMW M boss Friedrich Nitschke says that the Munich-based automaker remains committed to its rear-wheel drive platform. “Our philosophy …

In an interview with Autocar UK, BMW M boss Friedrich Nitschke says that the Munich-based automaker remains committed to its rear-wheel drive platform. “Our philosophy in regards to steering feel and precision is that rear-wheel drive is the best solution,” he said. “xDrive brings an 80-90kg weight penalty and the M differential is the industry’s best rear-drive set-up.”

Over the past few years, and before the new F10 M5 made its debut, there have been constant rumors about an all-wheel drive pure M car (not counting here the M Performance Automobiles), but BMW engineers, including head of development and M bosses have shuttered the dreams of some customers that were craving an M car that can perform in the winter just as it does in the summer.

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BMW M550d xDrive shown here

Furthermore, Dr. Nitschke confirms that manuals are not dead. In the U.S., the M division offers its M5, M6 Coupe / Convertible and M6 Gran Coupe with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission. “From a production aspect, it would be much better to only offer the dual-clutch gearbox,” said Nitschke. “But as long as there is demand, we’ll offer the manual.” In other words, keep buying manuals if you would like to maintain the DNA of M cars.

The topic of naturally aspirated engines versus turbocharged units have been beaten to dead last year, and the M boss offered again the same explanation we have heard in the past: “It’s not a change in philosophy, it’s a change in technology. Turbocharging is better for fuel savings and CO2.”

What about an M3 GT? Not in M’s immediate roadmap, “but it depends on market requirements,” as the M boss explained. We do however expect to see an M4 Gran Coupe down the road.

The competition continues to offer all-wheel drive variants (Mercedes E63 AMG, CLS63 AMG, Audi RS6, RS7) so it remains to be seen how long and if BMW will hold off on the decision to bring an xDrive to the M brand.

9 responses to “Report: BMW M sticks to rear-wheel drive; manuals if demand”

  1. steelydan says:

    so what that the competition has all-wheel drive? it’s been proven time and time again that the (rear-drive only) m-cars are better on the road and the track.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      No doubt. But I wonder how many customers want road and track, but also the ability to drive in winter. I know that East Coast people would love that. Question is: are enough of those to justify the R&D costs?

      • ghane says:

        I’m sorry, but i can’t resist this post: The ability to drive in winter conditions comes with winter/snow tires and not 4WD. ;-)

        • Horatiu B. says:

          True, but on a 560 hp vehicle, the xDrive + winter tires can give you a bit more performance, right? That’s where I was going with this. Many customers on the East Coast go to AMG or Audi cause of the all-wheel drive reason.

  2. auaq says:

    Is there a V16 cylinder option? ….. ;-)

  3. bclemans says:

    What is weird is that the RWD M5 is heavier than the 4WD Audi S6 and the 3.7 seconds 0-60 for the 420 horses S6 is the same as the M5 (according to Car and Driver’s comparison test). I guess that is the advantage of 4WD – just like how the 550xi and 335xi are faster than the 550i and 335i and how the Porsche 4WD 911 are faster than the RWD versions. I guess he is right that BMW needs to keep its weight down.
    Anyway, now that Mercedes AMG cars are switching to AWD, the sales figures in the next few years will tell us whether consumers prefer RWD or AWD in the high performance segment.

  4. otto says:

    What a fool,
    I thought that X5M and X6M were AWD.
    Also glad to know that BMW is the 1st to bring RWD SUVs to the market.

    • otto says:

      Not to mention those lamers from Porsche, Lamborghini and even Ferrari now that keep offering AWD cars, what a shame.
      I’m still wondering how they could sell DCTs to those heal-toe masters from NA.

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