Should BMW build an M5 all-wheel drive?

BMW M5 | January 15th, 2015 by 3
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The next M5 will almost definitely have xDrive as an option. BMW won’t forget their roots and make it xDrive exclusively

The next BMW M5 needs to pack a wallop. It needs to be punch-you-in-the-mouth fast because of its stiff competition these days, from the likes of Audi, Mercedes and Cadillac. The current M5 is already a mighty thing, boasting 560 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. You can only add so much power before it just starts turning the tires into smoke and not actually making the car faster. So there must be only one solution. xDrive.

There has never been an M car with xDrive. M SUVs sure, but no M car. However, the M5 and M6 could benefit greatly from the addition of two more driven wheels.

Sure, the purists will cry “Blasphemy!”, but they do that for everything.

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Let’s face it, the M5 may very well be a great handling car for its size, but it isn’t a Lotus Exige. It doesn’t have to be, nor should it be, a lithe, canyon carver. What the M5 is, at least nowadays, is a very comfortable yet incredibly fast luxury sedan. And due to the fact that its competition is nearing the 600 horsepower mark (Cadillac’s CTS-V actually surpassed it), the M5 will have to do the same. 600 horsepower to the rear wheels can get a bit hairy, so adding xDrive would really tighten things up a bit.

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I know, I know “M cars are supposed to be RWD only!”. I know that M cars have always been RWD, the thing is, though, times are changing. Audi has been making its Quattro monsters for years now and they flat out work. The Quattro all-wheel drive system allows Audi to add monstrous power without the nasty tradeoffs of unstable handling.

It works so well, in fact, that Mercedes’ own lunatic brand, AMG, has been adding 4Matic to their super-sedans now. The sole purpose of AMG is to turn tires into vapor and even they are doing it, that says something. BMW needs to get with the times. Plus the xDrive would benefit customers in harsher weather climates, which I can understand greatly, living in NJ.

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The next M5 will almost definitely have xDrive as an option. BMW won’t forget their roots and make it xDrive exclusively, like AMG does in some markets, but it will be an option. BMW has also hired a man who knows quite a bit about this sort of thing — Franciscus van Meel, former boss of Audi’s RS division.

“I wouldn’t like to use the word four-wheel drive because it’s always connected a little bit – emotionally – to straightforward driving and that’s not what we’re talking about,” said van Meel. “So if we go on a direction of four-wheel drive, for us it will really be like a rear-wheel drive with more traction.”

He’s suggesting the xDrive be put in the M5 and M6, but not as a full-time 50/50 split. What he’s suggesting is that it act like the current xDrive system does now, with 100% of power going to the rear and only sending some to the front to increase grip as needed. I think I’m safe in assuming the M version would be even more aggressive than the standard. This would still be more hardcore than both Quattro and AMG.

The only real negative trade-offs would be the weight gain and the fact that it would piss off the purists. I can understand them, but times must change. The weight gain, though, should be offset by the facts that the next-gen M5 will lose a bit of weight already and the added grip will put even more power to the ground, in-turn erasing the extra weight.

The new F90 M5 isn’t due out until around 2018 with the M6 coming later, so expect more details in the future. As of now, just anticipate xDrive coming to the bigger M cars. But don’t fret, BMW M knows what they’re doing and they hired the perfect man to help them.

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