The first M3 to come with all-wheel-drive will soon be here, and it will be accompanied by the M4 Competition, both of which can be ordered with M xDrive at a cost of $4,100 above the MSRP of a competition model. Scheduled to launch in August, we’ve long known the new M3 and M4 would eventually be offered with M xDrive, as in recent years, all-wheel-drive has somewhat sneakily crept into the BMW product offering, which was once exclusively rear-wheel-drive.
The addition of M xDrive to the competition derivatives of the G80 M3 and G82 M4 represents a significant change. The nameplate previously represented one of the best rear-drive sport sedans money could buy, with a lineage stretching back to the E30 and beyond. As the years have wore on though, both competition and complexity have grown, and there’s no question that routing motivation to all four wheels makes the 503-horsepower M3 and M4 Competition models significantly faster. Adding M xDrive to an M3 or M4 Competition comes at a cost of $4,100 above the MSRP of a rear-wheel-drive M3 or M4 Competition. BMW aims to please though, and also offers stick-shift examples of the M3 and M4 which have 473 horsepower routed exclusively to the rear wheels.
When it comes to the latest M3 and M4 getting xDrive, it was the same story with the M5, which had arguably reached the limits of rear-drive performance with the F10 chassis. Although the F90 M5 isn’t much more powerful than the F10 it replaced, the undeniable traction advantage of M xDrive—which can actually be turned off in models like the M5 and M8 (and now the M3 and M4 Competition)—afforded the model a significant performance improvement, allowing it to compete with the likes of significantly more expensive and less practical alternatives.
We expect the same to be the case with the M3 and M4 Competition xDrive models, and the numbers published by BMW are encouraging. Although we’re still waiting for road tests to be published, BMW says the base-model G80 M3 and G82 M4 are capable of hitting 60 mph from a dead stop in just 4.1 seconds. Upgrading to the competition models with 30 more horsepower and 73 more pound-feet of torque gets you there in 3.8 seconds. The additional output helps, but not as much as M xDrive, which allows the M3 and M4 Competition to sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds.
When the automotive press gets their hands on the new M3 and M4 lineup and tests the various different models, we won’t be surprised if they end up slightly—or significantly—faster than officially stated. The latest M3 and M4 would simply be following in the footsteps of the M5 and M8, which have demonstrated themselves to be more powerful and quicker than advertised, and the same thing has occurred with some of BMW’s engines, which have an interesting habit of putting down more power than they’re rated for when tested on a dynamometer and drivetrain loss is accounted for.
All-wheel-drive systems, including M xDrive, come with a few inherent downsides though, and BMW has worked to hard mitigate these when adding it to cars as notable as the M3 and M4. Torque is only sent to the front axle when the need for additional traction arises, which means the M3 and M4 Competition xDrive will operate in rear-wheel-drive most of the time, with xDrive seamlessly taking over only when conditions dictate.
Nevertheless, there are still some minute but important differences between the M3 and M4 Competition and their xDrive-optioned counterparts. Although the conventional M3 and M4 have different gear ratios than the competition models, these remain unchanged with the xDrive variants. The steering ratio, however, drops from fifteen to one for rear-drive cars to 14.6 to one for xDrive cars. The turning radius appropriately grows from twenty feet to 20.7 with xDrive. Height and ground clearance are also increased for xDrive models, growing a tenth of an inch from 56.4 and 54.8 for the M3 and M4 to 56.5 and 54.9, and from 4.7 inches to 4.8 respectively.
The regular M3 and M4 weigh 3,840 and 3,830 pounds respectively, while their competition derivatives tip the scales at 3,890 and 3,880 pounds. Naturally, xDrive models are the heaviest, weighing in at 3,990 and 3,979 pounds. That means the addition of the eight-speed automatic transmission that comes standard in the competition cars accounts for 100 pounds of extra weight, while xDrive adds another 50. Of course, with the added grip of M xDrive and the performance it will allow the S58 twin-turbocharged inline-six to deliver, you’re virtually guaranteed not to notice.
The market launch of the M3 Competition xDrive and M4 Competition xDrive is scheduled for August of this year. The M3 Competition xDrive has a starting MSRP of $76,900 less destination, while the M4 Competition xDrive starts at $78,800.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]