When the current generation of the M3 and M4 was announced, we knew M xDrive would be optional equipment, and we knew it would make a substantial difference in terms of performance. The F90 M5 set precedent in this regard, and although BMW initially seemed hesitant to add all-wheel-drive to its performance cars, even waiting roughly a generation after Mercedes-AMG did it, the performance and capability of cars like the M5 and M8 have settled any doubts. Now, the G80 M3 Competition and G82 M4 Competition are both optionally available with M xDrive, and although they’re the heaviest variants of the lineup with the exception of the M4 Competition convertible, they’re also the fastest by a wide margin.
If you’re in need of a refresher, the G80 M3 and G82 M4 are each available in three different flavors. The base-model M3 and M4 come with an S58 M twin-turbocharged inline six making 473 horsepower. These models can be specified with either a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission or a traditional six-speed manual, and weigh 3,840 and 3,830 pounds respectively. Opting for the competition badge on the trunk lid increases horsepower to over 500, eliminates the manual transmission from the build sheet in favor of the ZF eight-speed, and translates to a curb weight of 3,890 pounds for the M3 and 3,880 for the M4. Models equipped with M xDrive are essentially the top of the heap, with the same output as the competition models, the automatic transmission being the only choice, and weight of 3,990 pounds for the M3 Competition xDrive and 3,979 for the M4 Competition xDrive. As we said when BMW announced the addition of M xDrive to the M3 and M4 lineup, however, with the extra traction netted by the system, you’re virtually guaranteed not to notice the increased weight.
In a recent video by Joe Achilles, a rear-wheel-drive M3 Competition is pitted against an M3 Competition equipped with xDrive in a series of drag races on an airport runway. The video doesn’t include detailed results and we won’t spoil the outcome, but the advantage of M xDrive is certainly real, and the difference between two otherwise nearly identical cars is impossible to ignore in a straight line. There are other slight differences, like the rear-wheel-drive M3 launching in second gear, but the advantage owned by M xDrive remains present at almost any speed. Perhaps that’s why the M3 Competition xDrive is over a half-second quicker from zero to 60 mph than its rear-wheel-drive stablemate, according to Motortrend.
Although the outcome of the video is largely a foregone conclusion, with the M xDrive-equipped versions of the M3 and M4 Competition being the choice for anyone after pure speed and performance, we applaud BMW for being the only premium automaker to still offer such a wide array of choices as they relate to a single model, with rear-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, and even a manual transmission available in the current M3 and M4.—Alex Tock
[Photo courtesy BMW AG. Video courtesy Joe Achilles on YouTube.]