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

BMW M | May 4th, 2016 by 7
2016 BMW M4 Coupe Alpine White Competition Package 15 750x500

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 tonsĀ 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?

BMW M2 South Africa 36 750x501

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.

bmw m4 snow 61 750x502


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?

7 responses to “Should all future M cars have AWD option, or just M5/M6?”

  1. Fritz says:

    Sure… Optional, not standard. Although I don’t know who in his right mind would buy the M2/3/4 with all wheel drive.

    I don’t see the need to go above 600 horsepower. It’s weird they suddenly changed their mind on that. Didn’t Frank van Meel first say they would aim at making M-cars lighter?

  2. TheBingoBalls says:

    It shouldn’t be an all or none approach. xDrive should be used when it makes sense to do so. xDrive wouldn’t make the M3/M4 a better car because of its setup could be tuned to handle the 400 or so HP it has alone with the torque. With the M5/M6, it would make more sense to use xDrive because of the traction issues the F10/F12/F13 have.

  3. Tunmishe Oke says:

    Jettison “purity” for practicality I say. My first BMW was a 325i convertible in 91, then an 850 csi in 93. Things have changed since then. I dribe a 550ix now. More power means a need for more control. As you make the cars lighter then they need to be stiffer, meaning less purebred M character. But its more practical because the population of BMW drivers in the North East is growing as they become more affordable and the used car market gets fine tuned with certified programs. Practicality sells cars. Purity is the mind of the fewer BMW maniacs like myself. Not many around. Bavaria wants to sell cars.

  4. John D says:

    I need a car to handle the heavy show and hard climat i have where i live so i am going to get me a 100 000 $, 600hp, 4.5 inches of ground clearance ‘sport’ car ^^^

  5. Elfresh says:

    as long there is a switch to engage and dis-engage AWD (4WD) so it could be 2WD (RWD) specifically would be nice
    similar to SUVs

  6. rkmjr says:

    I happened upon this blog and noted it is rather interesting how the “purist” feel that x-drive would dilute the M cars. There are those who want to purchase M cars who do not track their cars but may have the financial resources to afford to a limited extent an M car, who do not have any desire to track the car and who appreciate the advantages of x-drive in dry, wet and poor winter weather conditions. I for one have not owned a non AWD car since 1995. I have been able to find this type of car that fits my needs and desires and have finally found myself in a position where I can afford a more reasonably priced high performance AWD car that I enjoy driving. The fact that I live in the northeast part of the US, makes x-drive/AWD a definite advantage. As I would like to move up from my 11′ 335xi M-Pkg. to an M2 or M240xi with a manual transmission (or at least a DCT), I find where BMW seems to shy away from this configuration. Then I read this blog that seems to indicate they are actually considering this configuration for the M2. I for one would really like to see that, which would mean that my next car does not have to be an RS3 with a DCT. So, an M2 or M240i with a choice between RWD or x-drive and MT or DCT would be benaficial.

  7. Mark B says:

    This is the only reason stopping me from buying an M3 or M4 right now! Before my current 328 XI I had a rear wheel drive 320D and actually could not get out of my hilly driveway after 2-inches of snow. My current car performs awesome in the snow so there is no going back to rear wheel drive.

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