BMW may have lost some of its fans when the first front-wheel-drive cars arrived on the market a few years ago, but the Bavarians still have a predominantly RWD-based portfolio. Yes, another model has lost the RWD setup to go AWD – the new M5 – but the xDrive setup still offers a pure RWD mode for those seeking tail-happy thrills. What does the future have in store for BMW? M GmbH chairman of the board of management Markus Flasch shed some details about the company’s agenda.
In his interview with Australian magazine Go Auto, Flasch confirmed the highly anticipated M3 will have a “rear-wheel-drive version” and is going to offer a manual transmission. The use of the word “version” could indicate more M3 flavours are in the making, with reports suggesting there’s going to be an xDrive model as well. A hotter M3 Competition is all but confirmed to mirror the M5 and the recently launched X3 M and X4 M.
As you may recall, AMG’s head honcho Tobias Moers recently announced a gradual demise of RWD cars from Mercedes’ go-faster division as all performance vehicles born in Affalterbach will have a 4Matic setup. Flasch sees things differently and argues rear-wheel drive is still relevant, at least for some segments of the market.
Gallery: BMW M2 CS spy shots
He believes that when it comes to medium and large cars, which are driven in most cases throughout the entire year, an AWD layout is more suitable. For the smaller and cheaper M cars like the M2, M3, and M4, these usually complement an owner’s garage and are driven mostly when the weather is good. He didn’t go as far as saying it is one way or another since some of the customers still want a manual and a rear-wheel-drive setup in a car to drive all year.
In a bid to please everyone, BMW M aims to remain true to its core by keeping RWD alive while embracing xDrive. The aforementioned M5 is a prime example as it offers the best of both worlds – a feature we’ll also see soon on the M8. Interestingly (although hardly surprising), Flasch says owners of the super saloon are rarely deactivating the AWD mode.
During the same interview, Flasch announced plans for new CS models, which won’t necessarily have to be coupes. In other words, don’t be too surprised if one day there’s going to be another M3 CS or even an SUV carrying this suffix. A step further will be the possible return of the CSL – described by Flasch as having “the purest M character that you can achieve on a car that has still got license plates on it.” No model names were given, but if the Coupe Sport Leichtbau is indeed set to make a comeback, the M2 is likely the prime candidate to benefit from this treatment.
In related news, the M GmbH chairman of the board of management ruled out fully fledged M versions of the 1 Series and the X2. He also shot down the possibility of a Z4 M by claiming it would be difficult to cram in a larger engine in the sporty roadster.