Should all future M cars have AWD option, or just M5/M6?

BMW M | May 4th, 2016 by 7
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As of right now, if you live in a climate that suffers harsh winters and heavy snowfall and want a high performance sports car, you …

As of right now, if you live in a climate that suffers harsh winters and heavy snowfall and want a high performance sports car, you almost have to buy a fast Audi. All-wheel drive is becoming almost necessary for performance cars in winter, as power and performance numbers keep increasing and becoming more and more extreme. Back in the day, a BMW M car only made about 200-300 hp, so it was relatively easy to handle in bad weather with winter tires. But now, BMW M cars have tons of turbocharged torque that comes on in one big blast, making it a hairy car to drive in crappy weather. Which is exactly why BMW’s famous M Division is considering putting all-wheel drive in its most powerful cars, the M5 and M6.

But would BMW benefit from giving every M car, from the M2 to the M6 Gran Coupe, an all-wheel drive option?

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As mentioned earlier, Audi is cleaning up harsh climate areas, as its Quattro all-wheel drive system provides customers with the peace of mind to drive their performance cars in bad weather. While we’ve always proposed that winter tires are more important than all-wheel drive, the combination of both is even better and almost necessary with modern performance cars. So it seems like it could really help BMW to offer AWD in all of its M cars, as Audi has it as standard in all of its S and RS models and BMW can’t let Audi steal all the thunder come wintertime.

The biggest argument against all-wheel drive in BMW M cars is that it will dilute the famous motorsport brand’s heritage. And there are valid points to that argument, as the M Division has always been rear-wheel drive only and been more about handling dynamics and feel more than outright grip. However, times are a changin, as some might say, and the necessary grip to handle the increasing power is, well, increasing. Especially in harsh climates.

So BMW might be forced to start offering all-wheel drive, or even making it standard, on all M cars moving forward. If you live in an area that frequently gets heavy snowfall and want a performance car that you can use all year long, it’s hard to pass up on some of Audi’s S and RS models, as they offer tenacious all-season grip to go with their performance. And those Audi models might seem more attractive than the current rear-wheel drive-only BMW M cars.

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And, to be honest, all-wheel drive wouldn’t actually ruin the handling dynamics of many BMW M cars. The BMW M235i is currently considered to be the best non-M BMW on the market, as it’s the most fun and most pure BMW you can currently buy. We’ve sample xDrive variant of the M235i and it genuinely doesn’t make the car any less fun. So the same effect might be had on cars like the M2, M3 or M4. If those cars had a sort of rear-biased all-wheel drive system, much like the current xDrive system, it’s possible you could get the sort of feel and performance you’ve come to know from BMW M on dry pavement, but the traction you’d need on the nastier stuff.

With modern performance cars becoming so powerful and so torquey, it’s almost an inevitability that this will happen. But even if BMW’s M bosses are reluctant to make the change, they might have their hands forced in the future, as Audi is crushing that particular segment, Mercedes-AMG is making the switch over to all-wheel drive and even Jaguar is doing it. We know BMW is considering it on its bigger, more powerful cars, but should BMW offer all-wheel drive on every M car moving forward?

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