We knew that BMW is prepping an M-tuned all-wheel drive system for next generation M3 and M4, similar to the one found in the larger M5. We also knew that a manual transmission will be available, but what we didn’t know is whether the rumored rear-wheel drive would be offered as well.
Now, thanks to BMW M chief Markus Flasch, who spoke to Road&Track on the topic at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, we have the answer: the all-wheel drive variant will be offered with an automatic gearbox, whereas the stick shift will be reserved for the rear-wheel drive one.
“The next M3 will be a challenge, because we have more variations in the powertrain than we used to have”, said the exec. “We will offer all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. We will offer both manual and auto. We also have quite a significant group of customers that live in places that are not spoiled with weather like [Los Angeles].
“If you look at the competition, to other brands, there is a demand for high performance cars in all-wheel drive in the segment. We have the technical chance to [make an M3 with AWD] with the foundations that we laid with the M5. We figured ‘why not offer it?’”
The automatic transmission, which will be coupled to the M-tuned xDrive system, will reportedly use a torque converter and not a dual-clutch. Both the auto and manual ‘box will be paired to the 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six found in the new X3 M and X4 M, available in two outputs: 473 HP in the regular models and 503 HP in the Competition spec.
BMW might eventually expand the lineup with CS and CSL versions of the next M3 and M4, but Flasch wouldn’t comment on that. What he did confirm was when we will see the new premium compact sports sedan/coupe/cabrio, and that’s close to the end of next year. Production will reportedly begin in 2021.
On a related note, the BMW M chief shattered any rumors on a possible manual transmission version of the M5, as he said that there’s no demand for such vehicles.