For the first time in its 35-year history, the BMW M3 is getting all-wheel drive.
The sports sedan and its coupe sibling, the M4, will add the option of BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel drive system.
The all-wheel drive system is available only in the more powerful Competition variant, which packs a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with 375kW of power and 650Nm of torque.
An eight-speed torque-converter automatic is the only transmission available.
The extra traction afforded by the all-wheel drive system sees the all-wheel drive M3 Competition and M4 Competition do the 0-100km/h dash in just 3.5 seconds, compared to 3.9 seconds in rear-wheel drive models.
The rear wheel-biased M xDrive system has already been introduced in the M5 and M8 lines, with the all-paw M3 and M4 featuring driveshafts engineered specifically for them.
The M xDrive system is mated with BMW’s Active M Differential, which ensures fully variable distribution of torque between the rear wheels.
Compared to rear-wheel drive models, there’s a redesigned, double-joint spring strut front axle, revised front axle geometry, and a retuned steering ratio.
There’s also a specially adapted version of the engine oil supply system.
There are three M xDrive modes to choose from in the Setup menu.
The default setting maintains a rear-biased torque split but has an emphasis on traction and ‘precisely controllable handling’.
Flick it over to 4WD Sport and there’s a greater proportion of engine torque sent to the rear wheels, and you can also switch off the DSC entirely and engage 2WD-only mode.
As on rear-wheel drive models, you can adjust traction through 10 stages via the M Traction Control.
You can set and store your preferred M xDrive mode along with your preferred settings for the suspension, steering and throttle, which can then be activated via the two M buttons on the steering wheel.
The addition of all-wheel drive models means there will be six members of the M3/M4 family, which is continuing to expand.
The new M4 Convertible is due this year and BMW is introducing its first-ever M3 Touring wagon.
The latter is launching in some markets in 2022 and has been confirmed for Australia, though local launch timings haven’t been confirmed.
It’ll reportedly be available exclusively with the M xDrive system.