CarAdvice sat down with head of product management at BMW's M Division, Carsten Pries, at the international launch of the BMW X6 M in Texas, United States to discuss the viability of all-wheel-drive on other performance models. Mr Pries told CarAdvice that the increasing popularity of non-core M performance models such as M135i and M235i (not available in the Australian market) with all-wheel-drive (xDrive) is showing that there’s potential for more.
“If you look at M performance models, this newly introduced category, a third of our cars in the 1 and 2 Series are with xDrive.” Pries told CarAdvice.
Those xDrive models are only available in left-hand-drive due to the packaging of the all-wheel-drive platform, which doesn’t allow builds for right-hand drive markets such as Australia.
More so, Pries believes the relevance is most effective in markets where weather conditions require all-wheel-drive but it remains a sacrifice that needs to be studied with each model.
“We gotta do a lot of work to get the weight down, [but] definitely something you should look at.”
The car that is most likely to get an AWD variant in its next-generation form is the BMW M5, which goes head-to-head with the Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG that also gets all-wheel-drive in left hand drive markets.
“You have to look at it [new BMW M5] carefully, what kind of overall concept comes out of it, if you manage to make a significant weight saving from current to next-generation than it can obviously be worthwhile looking into it, because we don’t want to add another 75kg on what the car weighs today.”
The chances of the smaller and more nimble BMW M3/M4 with all-wheel drive are slim as Pries believes those customers are very focused on weight reduction.
“The M3 and M4 customers are the ones that are most keen on getting every kilogram you can off from the car, whilst the M5 owners have somewhat different preferences… I would not exclude it categorically, but it has to fit the overall concept, obviously we not only have lots of competitor activity (in the AWD segment), but the next-generation has to be even better than the one you’ve just built.”
Does the BMW M division lend itself to all-wheel-drive sedans and coupes? Should the next-generation BMW M5 be available as an all-wheel-drive variant for our market?