Will BMW Make An All-Wheel Drive M Car?

BMW M | December 29th, 2014 by 25
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer xdrive 07 750x500

Many changes have become of BMW and their sub-divisions (M and i Division) as of late. In the past few years we’ve seen the first …

Many changes have become of BMW and their sub-divisions (M and i Division) as of late. In the past few years we’ve seen the first M SUVs, the first turbocharged M cars, an M4, an electric hatchback and a hybrid, two-seater sports car.

So what’s next for BMW?

I think the next big step will be an AWD M car. BMW has said, adamantly, that they will never produce an AWD M car because M cars are performance cars and RWD is better for performance. However, with all of these radical changes lately to the philosophy of BMW’s performance cars (turbocharging, hybrid technology), does AWD really seem that farfetched?

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer xdrive 07 750x499

Firstly, I agree that AWD has no place in a true M car, the M2/3/4 should all be RWD only. But it isn’t that hard to imagine an AWD M5 or an M6 Gran Coupe. It actually makes a bit of sense. While the M5 is the original M car, an argument can be made that, because of the latest-gen’s weight/size/power, AWD would actually increase its performance. The M6 Gran Coupe is, despite what many people may say, a massively powerful grand tourer, so having four driven wheels would benefit such a powerful car over long journeys and bad weather.

mercedes benz cla 06 750x500

Audi has been doing AWD super-sedans for decades now and are having massive success with it. Mercedes’ own AMG, whose cars are normally maniacal, RWD tire scorchers, are switching to AWD to help keep the heaps of torque under control. Even Porsche, the “purists” car company, are turning to AWD and even All-Wheel-Steer in their highest performance cars. It only makes sense that BMW will follow suit eventually.

I’m not saying I want them to, I’m not even saying they should, however it seems quite likely to happen. Would it be blasphemous to see an M car with xDrive on the back? Probably, yes but people said the same thing about a turbocharged M3 and that turned out to be superb. BMW M will most likely not get rid of RWD, but it isn’t likely to be the sole drivetrain option of the future.

BMW once said that they wouldn’t make an M8, out of the 8 Series in the nineties, because it was too heavy. Fast forward a decade and BMW made an M car out of their heaviest vehicle; the X5. BMW isn’t opposed to change; in fact they are often front runners of it.

I wonder how long it will take to see an xDrive M car.

Nico DeMattia also writes at TheEngineBay

25 responses to “Will BMW Make An All-Wheel Drive M Car?”

  1. mizkitty says:

    I’d settle for the M135i xDrive in North America…

  2. That Guy says:

    What if they just took a 3-series, and stuffed it with the engine from the 1-series M Coupe, and then added xDrive?

    Oh right, it was the 07-09 (E9x) 335i xDrive.

    Slap an ///M badge on it and call it a day.

  3. Henry says:

    The most disappointing thing BMW has done over the past few years is actually coming out with a front wheel drive car. It is a real shame, it is so against what the brand stands for. If they wanted to make a front wheel drive car, at least don’t put a BMW badge on it. With regards to M cars, I actually don’t mind front wheel drive variants being offered as long as it stays true to the rear wheel drive bias that real cars have. I just want to add that the reason why Audis have to have AWD with their more powerful cars is due to the fact that their FWD chassis (which are VW chassis) CANNOT handle all the power through the front wheels. And may I add that the reaso why they are successful is because their brand image has improved over the past decade DUE TO (take note BMW executives!!) PERCEIVED QUALITY (mostly interior), very appealing exterior and interior design and great marketing, good product placements and the R8. They DO NOT make cars nearly as well engineered as BMW. To follow what Audi is doing in terms of giving substandard quality (like BMW FWD cars) is just ridiculous to me. They should spend time on improving the appeal of the BMW brand instead of saying things like (I semi quote: BMW does not need an image boost with a super car OR BMW can take the knock with a FWD car). This is highly disappointing. BMW needs to improve the brand and protect the distinctive character of the M brand (I have less hope for this as they just hired an Audi guy to be head of the M division). So to answer your article, yes, I think we will see a “Quattro” M car in the near future, I am expecting it with great disappointment.

    • Henry says:


    • Alex F says:

      I saw a 2 Series AT yesterday on the road, the driver pulled up on the street I was walking on to go the store so I took a look at it and I think it actually looks very nice. Like or not, there is a massive market for that segment of vehicle here in Europe and you can’t make a RWD version without compromising the entire point of the car, which is space. So while yes it does kind of suck that BMW had to go back on their whole anti-FWD stance, times are also changing. It doesn’t make the rest of their range any better or worse.

      I do agree though that BMW needs to go back to making the M brand more driver oriented as it was in the past. Yes with the way the models are growing in size and weight there will be losses in driving pleasure but I feel that the M division has gone too far in the direction of insanely fast but comfy tourer (even the M3/4 to a degree) but enthusiasts (not the badge whores) buy Ms for a reason and improvements can be made. Of course this is from a guy whose never been behind the wheel of one so what do I know :P AWD is great as long as it’s an option, unlike in some markets where AMG forces it on you regardless. Buyers should be able to choose whether or not they want/need it for their use of the car, otherwise you’re just losing a bit of the essence of it, no matter how great the xDrive system in it is

  4. Mike Vella says:

    I think it would be cool to at least offer AWD with the M cars considering they do in fact compete directly with offerings from Audi that have it (as you noted). Also, if I lived somewhere with snow and ice, I’d not want a car without AWD, personally, unless it was a spring/summer cruiser and not something I’d have to rely on in the Winter..

    • Morocco Mole says:

      Mike, you don’t need AWD to drive in snow and ice conditions–you just need to know how to drive on snow and ice. I have a 135 and 135is driven on snow and ice for the past three years total. You just need winter tires and winter driving wisdom.

      • Mike Vella says:

        Yea, I lived in northern CA for a long time, used to ski like 20+ days a year for over 20 years. Now that it’s easy to find cars with AWD, if I were to spend long periods of time in the snow and ice again, I’d prefer to have it. If I lived in Denver, I can tell you right now that I would either be driving a BMW with Xdrive or another Audi with quattro.
        I owned an A4 for several years, awesome car, I’d own one again.

        • Morocco Mole says:

          I guess I have slapped on Winters on my Evo8 but it’s just NOT the same as RWD in the snow! BTW, I spent my life growing up in Hawaii and now live in the ‘other’ ski capitol of the USA. west of Colorado.

          I can’t imagine giving up RWD for the winter: four season drifting/cruising FTW.
          Can’t wait for RWD M2.

          Good luck!.

  5. MG says:

    BMW should absolutely offer AWD M’s. It will be good for performance and it will be even better for their shareholders. It is sort of comical to offer M SUV’s, front wheel drive cars, turbos on everything and all the rest but adamantly refuse to make an AWD M sedan on principle. I agree with the author’s point that M5 and M6 would benefit the most.

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