THERMAL, Calif. — The BMW M3 and M4 have never been available with all-bicycle drive — that is, until now. If it weren’t for the collective automotive world blowing a gasket over a grille design during the M3’s and M4’s initial reveal, the majority of the panic surely would’ve been directed toward the addition of an actress 2 driven wheels. Information technology caused a kerfuffle when the M5 moved to all-wheel drive, but the execution was then blasted constructive that complaints dried up quickly.
Of course, one reason to not be upset virtually the existence of M3 and M4 xDrive models is that rear-drive M3s and M4s are non going anywhere. Another perk BMW tossed into the pot is the ability to completely lock power to only the rear wheels, just similar it does with the M5. Yous’re forced to do without stability control in this 2-wheel drive mode, but it’s better to accept it than no two-wheel drive whatever. The terminal piece of vital info is that the xDrive all-bike-bulldoze system is merely available on the college-power Competition models — equipped with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six making 503 horsepower and 479 pound-anxiety of torque — which ways it’s also exclusively paired with the eight-speed automated manual. There will be no manual all-bicycle-drive M3s or M4s.
The organization is rear-biased, and under normal conditions, power will only be sent to the rear wheels. BMW says power volition exist sent forward when additional traction is required, and because our slip-and-slide kickoff drives of the M3 and M4, we knew coming in that the system would be “requiring” torque to be delivered up front often.
Power is shuffled between the forepart and rear axles via an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch, and the rear axle features BMW’south Agile M differential to shuffle torque back and along between the rear two wheels. As for front-wheel control, BMW utilizes a transfer case with an integrated traction control unit that is able to react in existent time to rotational speed differences betwixt the front and rear wheels. BMW says this strategy is superior to everything passing through a central stability command computer, and allows the car to exist more predictable and stable when performing high-speed maneuvers on a racetrack.
The three xDrive modes yous tin cull from are 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD. We already explained the 2WD manner, but the 4WD mode is your default setting that has all of the traction and stability control systems in their most stringent and conservative settings. Meanwhile, 4WD Sport will direct more than power rearward by default, and allows for greater slip angle, but still keeps the front beam in play — BMW says it’due south the best fashion for the rail, and nosotros agree.
After driving the rear-drive M3 and M4, it was articulate that dispatch times for those cars were severely limited by rear traction. Once up and running, the M3 Competition ran like an absolute banshee, just simply subsequently sorting out the initial wheel slip. Unsurprisingly, the xDrive M3 and M4 models are quoted to do the 0-60 mph sprint 0.4 seconds quicker than their rear-drive counterparts, bringing the official time downwards to 3.4 seconds for both cars — this quicker fourth dimension required BMW to change its oiling system to handle the increased accelerative forces off the line. This quicker time comes in spite of the extra 100 pounds of adjourn weight added to both cars for the all-bike-drive gear that also caused BMW to change the front-axle geometry, leading to the steering ratio being re-tuned from xv.0:1 to 14.6:1 to retain the same handling experience as the rear-drive cars. For those counting, that puts the M3 Contest xDrive at iii,990 pounds and the M4 Competition xDrive at 3,979 pounds.
You don’t feel the extra poundage going around corners, only the existence of all-wheel drive is unmistakable from the get-go noon and onward. On the Thermal Club’s Due south Palms race rails, the all-wheel-drive M3 is remarkably more secure and easy to drive — we did back-to-dorsum sessions in RWD and AWD versions to feel out the differences. Even with all the traction command systems on, the xDrive motorcar was reluctant to cut in on accelerative motion. The level of nuance and restraint y’all must show the throttle pedal in the xDrive model is profoundly reduced versus the wily and tail-happy regular M3. Instead of negotiating with the throttle the whole style through and around a long bend to keep the front end pointed straight, y’all tin get a trivial reckless on the throttle and just let the car sort it out all-time. For those who aren’t pros, that means you lot end up getting slingshot off corners much harder and faster than yous might exist capable of with the RWD models.
That said, in that location’s even fun to be found in the M3 and M4 xDrive cars for pro drivers, besides. BMW’s manufacturing plant race car commuter, John Edwards, shared with us that he prefers the AWD version of the motorcar because of its ability to both be a hilarious, sideways smoke evidence and mortiferous precise at the same time. How? Y’all can programme 4WD mode into the BMW “M1” preset steering wheel push and 2WD mode into the “M2” preset, and swap between them mid-lap with only a quick press of either push button. That manner, Edwards says he can swap into 2WD style nether braking to set the car upwards for big drifts around the corner, then quickly swap dorsum into 4WD fashion to get maximum acceleration out of the migrate and to the next corner. We have a feeling the casual track solar day enthusiast won’t be taking advantage of this capability, but the power exists.
Outside of the track, the M3 and M4 xDrive continue to exhibit much more than stable and safer driving behavior than the rear-drive car does. You have to
ask for it with your correct human foot if you want some skid activity from the rear in corners, as even the 4WD Sport fashion aims to keep the car on a straight, missile-like path. It involves less thinking and bike maneuvering, and in that sense it’s less fun and involving to drive when compared to the RWD version. That’s the typical tradeoff when information technology comes to adding all-bike bulldoze to sports cars, and the trend is no unlike for the M3 and M4.
Setting bated handling and dispatch performance, the addition of all-wheel drive to the M3 and M4 furthers the motorcar’south mission as the ultimate daily driver for an enthusiast. Winter tires would make an M3 perfectly drivable in the snowfall, but calculation AWD traction is going to make it a rocket-powered bobsled. There’south still the relatively low ground clearance of 4.8 inches, but nobody said the car could double as a snowplow. Since our bulldoze took place in sunny California, we can’t evangelize a final verdict on snow functioning yet, but that can hopefully change when we become our hands on an M3 or M4 xDrive this winter.
As for what it will cost you, the xDrive models are predictably more than expensive than their rear-drive equivalents. The upcharge for both the M3 and M4 xDrive models is the same at $4,100, landing the final cost for the M3 Competition xDrive at $77,895 and the M4 Competition xDrive at $79,795. That’s a bucket-load of money, but information technology’s right in line with its just other all-bike-drive competitor, the Audi RS 5. Between these two, the M3 or M4 are easy shoo-ins equally being the best to drive. Every bit far as design … we’ll allow yous make upward your own mind.
At their best, the all-bike-drive M3 and M4 make the spunky G car a more accessible and friendly functioning vehicle. If you could switch into rear-drive mode and keep stability control in play, it’d be a perfect earth, because going without the electronic helpers turns the M3 and M4 into considerably less approachable performance cars. This flaw, and the not-small price increase of $4,100, has usa favoring the rear-bulldoze flavors of M3 and M4. Unless, of form, you program to use the machine as a daily driver in a snow-heavy state or want the added security blanket of all-bike drive on a race track. No thing which way you cull, having the
of all-wheel drive is null to exist distressed about.