The new G80 M3 and G82 M4 Competition models each produce about 60bhp more than the cars they replace. With 503bhp apiece, these things struggle to get their power down cleanly even in the dry, and in the wet? Get ready to spend a lot of time looking at a flickering traction control light.
It’s undoubtedly entertaining driving a car that has too much power for its own good, but if you’d rather be able to deploy the S58 inline-six’s full output with minimal fuss whatever the whether, BMW has a solution. Both cars are now available in ‘xDrive’ form - yep, the M3 is going all-wheel drive for the first time in its 35-year history.
Bespoke to the two new M cars, the system is able to fully vary the distribution between each end of the car via an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch. Generally, torque will go to the rear wheels exclusively, with drive only being sent to the front when necessary.
As on the G30 M5, there’s a ‘4WD Sport’ mode to bias the rear wheels further, and a ‘2WD’ mode to ditch drive to the front wheels entirely, accessible only when the stability control is disengaged. This won’t quite replicate the driving experience of the rear-drive M3/M4 Competition: the xDrive cars feature rejigged front suspension geometry and an altered steering ratio.
Plus, the weight figure has gone up by a reasonable amount. The two-wheel drive M3 and M4 are already porky cars, and the xDrive system adds 55kg. For the M4 Comp, this gives new DIN/EU kerb weight figures of 1775kg/1850kg. The M3 is 5kg bulkier.
Superior traction off the line still means an impressive uplift in performance, however. Each xDrive M car dispatches 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds, an improvement of four-tenths of a second. There’s a small cost in terms of efficiency, with the fuel consumption going up from 28.8 - 29.4mpg to 28.0 - 28.2mpg.
It’s more expensive to buy in the first place, too, although the premium isn’t as high as you might imagine. It’s £77,015 for the M3 xDrive and £78,315 for the M4, representing an increase of £2200 for each compared to the rear-drive derivatives.
So, would it be two or all-wheel drive for you?