Bad News for BMW purists: Next M3 and M4 Could Go AWD
Is this the end of the traditional M3?by Ciprian Florea, on
First introduced in 1985, the BMW M3 quickly became known as "the ultimate driving machine." The German brand exploited the term for more than three decades now, but a lot of BMW enthusiasts agree that the newer M3 and M4 are no longer the driver’s car that the first generation cars used to be, mostly due to being loaded with too much technology and driver aids. Whether this is true or not is a matter of how you look at modern sports cars, but old-school gearheads won’t be happy to learn that the next-generation M3 and M4 could go all-wheel-drive.
The news comes from Car Magazine, which claims that the M3 is set to take the same path as the M5, which was recently unveiled with standard all-wheel-drive. Since the M3 and M4 share the same underpinnings, the two-door coupe will also distribute power to all corners. As BMW pointed it out a few months back, the new-generation M5 was first engineered as a traditional, RWD sedan. But the company soon realized that the M5 didn’t handle longitudinal acceleration, and it decided to go with an all-wheel-drive layout. With the next-generation M3 looking to push the envelope well beyond that of the current model, AWD is likely to become a viable option for the compact too.
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No Need to Panic Yet
Although nearly all reports suggest that the M3 could go AWD, the switch might not be as radical as the M5's.
Although nearly all reports suggest that the M3 could go AWD, the switch might not be as radical as the M5’s. While the latter comes standard with all-wheel-drive, the M3 could get xDrive as an option. Which should keep diehard enthusiasts happy. However, with Audi offering standard Quattro systems in the RS4 and RS5, it wouldn’t be completely shocking for the M3 and M4 to become AWD-only cars. On the flipside, this move would leave the Mercedes-AMG C63 as the only high-performance, German-made premium compact with rear-wheel-drive. It’s definitely a tough decision. An AWD M3 will bring superior performance and handling but would put an end to three decades of rear-wheel-drive tradition. And needless to say, it would upset BMW purists.
The next-generation M3 and M4 are expected to carry on with a new version of the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six engine, which could develop close to 500 horsepower. The eight-speed automatic could become the only transmission option if the compact switches to AWD. At the same time, if RWD remains an option, it could be restricted to a manual transmission.
The new M3 is expected to launch sometime in 2020. The next-generation 3 Series will probably arrive by the end of 2018.
Read our full review on the 2017 BMW M3.
Read our full review on the 2018 BMW M4.