BMW M CEO Frank van Meel won’t ditch rear-wheel drive just yet

BMW M5, News | September 14th, 2017 by 5
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Since the brand-new F90-generation BMW M5 debuted a few weeks back, questions have surfaced about whether or not BMW would ditch rear-wheel drive for the …

Since the brand-new F90-generation BMW M5 debuted a few weeks back, questions have surfaced about whether or not BMW would ditch rear-wheel drive for the M5’s new xDrive system. This new BMW M5 is the first BMW M car (non SUV) to come with all-wheel drive and it’s as-standard. However, it can disconnect its front driveshaft at the switch of a button and become rear-wheel drive. So fans have begun to wonder if BMW would switch all M cars over to this new system.

According to BMW M CEO, Frank van Meel, who recently spoke with Road & Track at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW M is not giving up on rear-wheel drive just yet.

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“Because we have this unique system, M xDrive, we have another option for future cars, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to do that with every car,” Van Meel told R&T. “Each and every car is completely different. It depends on the overall concept, weight distribution, and total performance.”

Van Meel understands that the new M xDrive system is very useful and can help the M Division’s powerful cars put their power down. But for certain cars, it’s just not what is needed. “[M xDrive] is good to have but it doesn’t mean we’re going to do that on every M.” said van Meel.

He also recognizes the everyday usability of M cars, though, and that power is almost becoming too much for just two driven wheels, especially in bad weather. In areas where winter climates can get scary, cars like Audi’s RS cars are becoming more popular than M cars, thanks to their better all-weather capability. “If you’re getting lighter and [adding] more performance, you reach a tipping point somewhere where drivability under all-weather conditions is more of a hassle,”. So van Meel will use M’s xDrive on cars where it makes sense, such as on the new M5 and likely the upcoming M8.

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He also mentioned to R&T that BMW M will keep the manual transmission around for as long as it’s still wanted, despite it being a dying technology. “From a rational standpoint, a manual transmission makes no sense—it’s slower, and fuel economy is worse than with an automated transmission,” Van Meel said. “Put that aside, it has an emotional component, which means there are a lot of people who love manual transmissions.” To which he continued, “We see this emotional request for manual transmissions, and as long as the market is there, we will continue to offer them,”.

[Source: Road & Track]

5 responses to “BMW M CEO Frank van Meel won’t ditch rear-wheel drive just yet”

  1. Hinu says:

    As long as you can customize the rear to front ratio, I’m happy. And of course, as long as they stay far away from FWD… Which is utter cancer.

    Rimac, Porsche, Lucid Motors, Mercedes and Ariel are brands that make or will make EVs that you can customize the power distribution. I’m sure there are more. Tesla has yet to offer it, something that would be ridiculously easy for them to implement… To disable traction control etc. you need to pull fuses…

  2. Senne says:

    I’m really pleased Van Meel didn’t turn BMW M in understeering crap like Audi RS’s (I know, I know it’s better now. But they still can’t drift!!). The way they implemented M xDrive is spot on. The M5 is now everyday drivable in all weather conditions, which is great. Also, since they implement more lightweight technology the added weight doesn’t matter as much. Imo opinion every future M Car starting from the M3/M4 should have M xDrive, but of course they should always keep the “RWD-with-the-push-of-a-button”, since that’s exactly what makes M xDrive a success formula.

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      Honestly i don’t know, to me it seems that M xDrive is a bit of a gimmick. You have the possibility to switch between three modes, yes, but only one of them actually does what you want the car to do (AWD Sport) while still being versatile since you have the possibility to have the DSC on or off.

      The other two modes are a somewhat boring standard xDrive and a full RWD setup that is basically unusable because you need to disable any form of traction control and the car is un-drivable because the rear doesn’t have enough traction. Not to mention that you still have the AWD weight

      So what M xDrive ends up being is a 30-50kg (if not more) burden at all times that pretty much never has any actual purpose. I’m convinced that if BMW throws out the transfer case and puts in an active differential at the front plus adds a newly calibrated four wheel steeering (i guess M IAS) we would end up with a car that is better at all times.

      Also on the M3 it probably makes less sense because the weight penalty would be more important while there would be little to no advantage at all since the car will probably be able to put down its torque as a RWD car if they put tyres that are a touch wider and of course of a newer compound.

    • Will ._.Var says:

      Could not agree more. Sure, there might be some extra costs involved (during development and purchase), but it would totally be worth it.

      Of course the M2 would stay RWD, as the most “pure” M car, then the M3/4 would be the sports variants of the range with a bit more daily usability (adaptive suspension, more technology from the 5 and 7 Series and this new xDrive system for when there is bad weather). Yet they would still be fun on a backroad, at the flick of a button.

  3. Mr everysing says:

    So the real reason bmw is introducing awd is to beat audi in sales. I don’t surprise as m cars has not been m anymore for the last couple years.

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