BMW M hasn't been able to decide whether it wants to jump on the all-wheel-drive bandwagon or not (with the exceptions of the X5 M and the X6 M, which are based on AWD architecture). That might be changing though, since M's president Friedrich Nitschke recently realized that 70 to 80 percent of Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs are ordered with all-wheel drive. Earlier this year, Nitschke said that there were no new AWD M models planned, so this comes as somewhat of a surprise.

"On our cars we are thinking of all-wheel drive, but it won't come before we get the successor of the M5 and M6," Nitschke said in a Motoring report. "That's the timing and it's not practical to react in the current life cycles."

"On our cars we are thinking of all-wheel drive." – Friedrich Nitschke, BMW

Nitschke says that obtaining a faster 0-60 miles-per-hour time isn't why BMW M is considering AWD option for the M5 and M6. But one has to wonder if that's part of the division's reasoning when the Audi RS6 Avant and RS7, the Porsche Panamera Turbo and the top Mercedes E63 AMG all perform the sprint in under 4.0 seconds with AWD, when the fastest M5 can only do it in 4.2 seconds.

The M division traditionally has been shaped by rear-wheel drive sports cars and sedans with powerful, naturally aspirated engines of bespoke designs that didn't make their way into regular production BMWs. In recent years, however, M has been straying from its roots, replacing the M5's Formula One-derived V10 with a more pedestrian (but more powerful) twin-turbo V8, coming out with the aforementioned AWD M sports utility vehicle and crossover and equipping the upcoming M3 sedan and M4 coupe with a twin-turbocharged straight six to replace the current naturally aspirated V8.

Before the current generation M5 was released in late 2011, BMW had reportedly been toying with plans to make an AWD version, but this latest report confirms that BMW will wait until the next generation comes out.

For the M purists out there, Nitschke reportedly assures you that the M3 and M4 will "never" come with AWD, because, he says, "To accelerate out of corners with this rear-end architecture concept is so fantastic that it [all-wheel drive] is not needed." Instead of taking his word on that, we'll just wait another four to six months and see if the story has changed.


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  • 80 Comments
      BlackandMild
      • 1 Year Ago
      BMW really should be focused on increasing the reliability of all their vehicles, vs. introducing more stuff that can wrong that cost thousands of dollars to fix after the maintenance warranty expires-
      Judah Richardson
      • 1 Year Ago
      If BMW can add AWD without spoiling their M cars' handling, then more power to them. I recall comment threads chuckling about the Ferrari FF before its release. Then the test result started rolling in. Who's laughing now?
      ihatedavebushell
      • 1 Year Ago
      Now that they are putting near 600 hp and 600 ft lbs of torque in these cars, they need AWD to get them off the line - BMW needs to rethink it - there is nothing wrong with AWD in an M-Car and it would make it a better car if they can keep the weight balance and give it a huge RWD bias most of the time, but let the fronts wheels help it off the line and if you get to out of shape. Of course it will add weight, but lately that doesn't seem to worry BMW M if you look at how much an M5 weighs!
      John
      • 1 Year Ago
      Make it a low percentage AWD system to where 20-30% of power at the most os being transfered. Enough for snow & performance.
      manure
      • 1 Year Ago
      BMW M cars are no longer top enthusiast performance cars. They are created by marketing professionals. BMW M is the opposite of what you would want if you wanted a restrained, light, serious, understated enthusiast's car.
        aacfx09
        • 1 Year Ago
        @manure
        Exactly my thoughts. I don't quite know what BMW is clinging to at this point with staying RWD in the M's when this is the case.
      Klimo
      • 1 Year Ago
      There are a lot of people that live in certain area's of the country where the people feel more comfortable having AWD. I live in WI and I will not purchase a car that will be daily driven that is not AWD. Before the snow tire crowd comes screaming, I put snow tires on my AWD car. Regardless, the less informed population just feels better with AWD in states with **** weather. E63 AWD vs. BMW M5 is a non-discussion now, no matter how well the M5 performs or anything. 70-80% of E63s are AWD should shock no one. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate BMW staying true to their roots of RWD, but Merc is offering both. There is no reason BMW can't do this, and I am shocked that they didn't realize this is what customers want.
        PiCASSO
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Klimo
        I live in Chicago, IL and I have purchased a used RWD IS350 from Oshkosh, WI a few years ago from a lady that couldn't drive it after less than 1-year of ownership. Early winter, bought a set of winter tires/wheels and have been rotating these twice a year without the need/expensive of AWD hardware and reduction in fuel economy. If I could count, it has really snowed about 4-5 times per year, which having AWD for those 1.4% times in the year is NOT worth it. I'll continue to enjoy my rear wheels doing all the pushing.
          PiCASSO
          • 1 Year Ago
          @PiCASSO
          @ icemilkcoffee Time and labour twice a year is nothing compared to: A) upfront costs of the AWD vs RWD (about $2,000 to $3,000) B) additional loss in fuel economy between 1 to 3 MPG (depending on vehicle and city or highway rating) C) additional things that could break down (differential, half shafts, front axle, etc). D) additional hump in the driver foot well that (in my opinion) impede function E) lack of over steer created only by front wheels steering while rear wheels drive Period.
          Klimo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @PiCASSO
          @picasso Now one is arguing that you can't continue to drice a RWD car in winter. The point is the people buying these cars feel comfortable with AWD and will only purchase AWD cars. Myself included. So, if BMW wants to compete, they better start offering performance AWD versions
          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @PiCASSO
          AWD/RWD/FWD are all made safer with snow tires. It should be mandatory in the states that get snow. I cringe every time some tire guy says all season. It's really three season.
        nocommie11
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Klimo
        In Houston I've seen snow 2 times in 20 years, the entire city came to a screaching halt as if it was the Epocalypse.
          NissanGTR
          • 1 Year Ago
          @nocommie11
          Oh no the devils work. God save me from this devilish weather.
      sniperhunter2001
      • 1 Year Ago
      70-80% are ordering E63s in AWD? That makes no sense. According to MB, the new E63s can ONLY be had with as 4Matics. :|
        ihatedavebushell
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        The US sight definitely only allows 4matic - maybe they sell RWD in other markets - seems when Top Gear tests them in the UK they are only RWD based on the amount of powersliding!
        Nunya
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        DCT and AWD are required to be a world class STREET car in 2013. Corvette and BMW better wake up and offer the OPTIONS as soon as possible or they will remain second class.
          Kurt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Nunya
          @ Nunya (quality) snow tires+RWD>>AWD+all weather tires. @ksrcm Please use facts next time you write. At most famous road courses, RWD cars are fastest with exception of the Porsche 918. Up at the top is usually some iteration of the Corvette, Viper, or Mclaren. Wherever you happen to go for racing must have some shitty drivers if the car manages traction and shifting for you.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Nunya
          [blocked]
          ksrcm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Nunya
          I strongly disagree. DCT and AWD (where allowed) are required for a world class TRACK/COMPETITION car. Street cars are for fun, not racing or destroying previously set lap times. Where the heck all of you go to race every day when everybody wants extra performance DCT and AWD will give to a 500+ hp cars? Please let me know, I want to move there ...
          ksrcm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Nunya
          @Kurt What is the point of having AWD and DCT in a street car? What is the point of shifting 600 miliseconds faster if lap times iare not feeding your family? What is the point of getting on a throttle 15 meters sooner on corner exit if you are not getting paid for those lap times? Is it clear now?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Nunya
          [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        [blocked]
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well with Audi and Cadillac now in this game, everyone has to rethink everything.
      clquake
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like how there's so much resistance to change. In the real world, if a company can't change, it means they will be left behind and eventually disappear. If the market (and money) is moving to awd, then staying fwd/rwd only is foolish.
      jcar302
      • 1 Year Ago
      No reason both rwd and awd can't coexist. For sure in the north awd makes for a better daily driver that sees snow or cold rain/pavement. Everyone knows rwd is more fun. Taking a performance rwd sedan and making it awd so families don't need to own an extra car in the north, makes sense. I know very few familes up here in nj that don't at least own 1 awd or 4wd vehicle.
      ssdajoker
      • 1 Year Ago
      The M as we know it is vanishing indeed. I think if corvettes and vipers can accelerate to 60 in under 4 seconds then the M division should be able to whip up something. But their cars are all too heavy. I know they use carbon fiber panels but this new batch of m cars are dinosaurs compared to the agile roadrunners of yesteryear . People are afraid that the pure driving feeling you get when you drive an M will be sacrificed in order to quote fast 0-60 times. AWD is good but if you needed AWD for good traction then every race car would be AWD and the corvette and viper teams have been doing great in ALMS. Change is good but ask Porsche to change the 911. Yes they added AWD but they have kept the basic backwards formula since Genesis and refined out of oblivion. So has GM with the Corvette, ford with the Mustang. M cars were like pure cocain in the sense that there was nothing in the way to dilute your driving experience. Now they are becoming more like crack rocks, yeah it gets you high and maybe even addicted but the experience is diluted.
      fordskydog
      • 1 Year Ago
      Chasing numbers to this extent is the sign of the M Car's fall. The M Car was not created to satisfy the overall market. M Cars were made for enthusiasts. The were little compromise performance versions in the beginning, with homologation in mind. And they created their own demand. If you make something people want, a market will come to it. If you make something to satisfy the market, you fade into appliance obscurity. Go ahead and do it, but it needs a new family lineup niche. Call the car something else. And if you do it, you better keep a RWD Manual Tranny M car lineup.
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