BMW M cars to keep rear-wheel drive layouts

February 21, 2013

Even though rivals of BMW’s M sedans and coupes offer all-wheel drive powertrains, M Division isn’t about to let go of the traditional and much more driver-involved rear-drive layout any time soon.

In a recent Autocar report in the UK, BMW M Division boss Friedrich Nitschke said BMW M cars will remain committed to rear-wheel drive. This is great news for the diehard M3 and M5 fans who have appreciated rear-drive since the beginning. Nitschke said,

“Our philosophy in regards to steering feel and precision is that rear-wheel drive is the best solution… and the M differential is the industry’s best rear-drive set-up”

This is despite the fact there is market demand for all-paw grip, especially in overseas regions where snow is a common occurrence. In fact, most of the competition does off all-wheel drive, including vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG 4MATIC (available in overseas markets), and of course the Audi RS 6 with its quattro setup. Both of these cars go head to head with the BMW M5.

It’s not that BMW doesn’t have the technology either. All-wheel drive, or ‘xDrive’ as BMW calls it, has already been available on the 3 Series and 5 Series overseas, however, in the name of performance and keeping weight down, it’s a compromise BMW M is not willing to make. According to Nitschke the xDrive system brings an 80-90kg weight penalty.

Dynamic Display Ad(Long Version)

Another technology that has changed over the years is the manual transmission. There was a time when the BMW M3 and M5 were only available with a manual. Nowadays, more examples are sold with an automatic-type gearbox – in Australia, the current M5 isn’t even available with a manual – however, Nitschke said that as long as there is demand for the manual, the company will continue to offer it.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.