May 17, 2021
Beddinginn

BMW’s M3 And M4 Didn’t Need All Wheel Drive

Illustration for article titled BMW's M3 And M4 Didn't Need All Wheel Drive

Image: BMW

This summer the Bayerische Motoren Werke will continue the relentless forward march in search of speed with its the M3 and M4 by adding all-wheel drive to its offerings with the M3 Competition Sedan with M xDrive and M4 Competition Coupé with M xDrive models. I don’t know who this is for. When has a sports coupe ever really benefited from adding two more driven wheels? In addition to being more complex, an AWD system hampers steering inputs, adds weight, and increases the price. This isn’t a rally car, it’s a low track-oriented sports machine. It doesn’t make sense.

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Despite Competition being in the name, these cars aren’t really built for any class, and don’t really compete anywhere. Sure, there’s an M4 GT4 homologation race car, but that certainly doesn’t have all wheel drive!

BMW asserts that the M xDrive system “allows the driver to experience an intoxicating interpretation of the hallmark M performance characteristics reflected, among other things, in even quicker acceleration.” That word salad boils down to the typically German-ism of “dynamism”, which means it does computer things you don’t understand in order to make you feel like you’re going faster.

Speaking of dynamism, here’s something directly from BMW’s press release that smacks of ridiculous copy: “The improvements in traction, handling stability, agility and dynamism brought about by the combination of M xDrive and Active M Differential also translate into superior sprinting ability.” What could that possibly mean? Okay, traction is an easy one, sure, when the rear wheels are overpowered by the 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque 3-liter turbocharged inline six, the front wheels kick in and provide forward motion instead of tire smoke. Handling stability, I guess means that the car is easier to judge where it’s going to go at the limit, as the front wheels can pull you through the corner if you’re experiencing throttle-on oversteer. More agile, despite the added weight? That one I’d love to see. And we’ve already covered dynamism.

Either the M3 or M4 version of this new car slip 0.4 seconds from their shared 0-60 time, now needing 3.5 seconds instead of 3.9 seconds. The average driver would never notice the difference, and it doesn’t really matter anyway, but I suppose that’s something.

The xDrive variants are visually indistinguishable from their RWD counterparts, sharing the same 19/20 inch staggered wheel setup. There are three different selectable settings for the AWD system, allowing regular AWD, a sportier AWD which is track oriented, and 2WD, which disconnects the front wheels if you so choose. Why you would buy the AWD car and choose to put it in 2WD mode doesn’t make sense to me. That’s extra pointless.

This nonsensical car will cost you $77,895 for the M3 Competition Sedan with M xDrive, while the M4 Competition Coupé with M xDrive will run $79,795. In either case, the AWD system is a $4,100 price premium over the standard Competition models. Both will reach Bimmer dealers by August.

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What’s next, a Porsche 911 GT3 RS with track-oriented all-wheel drive? Lord, I hope not. 

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