- The M3 badge gets AWD for the first time
- 0.4 seconds quicker than the RWD brethren
When BMW revealed the new-gen M3 and M4 pair a few months back, the focus on the large grille was so much that everyone forgot to rejoice that M Division has retained the RWD configuration for the sports sedan/coupe. But now, the Bavarian carmaker has debuted the Competition pair with its xDrive AWD configuration.
BMW purists know that the M3 (and the recently spawned M4) has always remained a tail-happy RWD machine. Now, in the Competition guise with the power output breaching the 500bhp mark, the German carmaker felt the need of introducing the xDrive system in the pair, just in the M5 before it. With traction going to all four wheels, the duo is 0.4 seconds quicker to 100kmph from standstill compared to the earlier-launched RWD equivalents.
Similar to the M5’s xDrive, the M-specific all-wheel-drive system can cleverly divide the power going between the front and rear wheels as required. This claims to enhance agility, directional stability, traction and track-focused dynamics at all times.
Also, it’s a rear-biased system with an M differential that has a variable distribution of torque between the wheels. It also helps transfer the twisting force to the road without loss of power, especially when pushed hard or has a lesser grip on one side. And if the M5’s xDrive performance is anything to go by, the M3 and M4 with xDrive can still be tail-happy when you want them.
In terms of hardware, the M xDrive system uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case, integrated wheel slip limitation, double-joint strut front-axle with reworked axle geometry and special engine oil to take on the extra load.
More importantly, the M lightweight alloy wheels are wrapped in 275/35 R19 tyres at the front and 285/30 R20 tyres at the back. The task of transmitting power to the front and rear differentials are handled by driveshafts engineered specifically for the M3/M4 Competition. BMW says that in the all-wheel-drive system, the drive power is channelled entirely rearwards, with the front wheels only being brought into play when the rears cannot feed any more power to the road.
What’s more, the M xDrive has three configurable setting wherein the default 4WD mode, the all-wheel-drive system offers maximum traction while maintaining a rear-biased power split at all times. In 4WD Sport mode, an even greater proportion of the engine’s torque is sent to the rear wheels.
Even in extremely dynamic driving situations, resulting in sharper agility and also making it possible to drift. While purists will be happy to know that with the DSC system switched off and 2WD mode engaged, the drive power is relayed solely to the rear wheels.