Former boss of Audi RS and new head of BMW M, Franciscus van Meel, has said that the new BMW M5 and M6 could be fitted with all-wheel drive, in order to cope with big increases in power and torque.
Speaking to Auto Express at the Detroit Motor Show this week, van Meel suggested that his expertise with Quattro four-wheel drive at Audi could lead to more all-weather M cars – including a grippier version of its popular M5.
“If we continue the power increases in the future – especially regarding torque and also horsepower – then probably the next generation M5 and M6 will have so much torque and power that we need to think about those solutions.”
However, he insisted that rather than getting a pure 50:50 four-wheel drive system, the M5 would likely adopt a rear-biased setup to ensure it lost none of its existing driving characteristics, and remained great fun behind the wheel.
“I wouldn’t like to use the word four-wheel drive because it’s always connected a little bit – emotionally – to straightforward driving and that’s not what we’re talking about.
“So if we go on a direction of four-wheel drive, for us it will really be like a rear-wheel drive with more traction.”
While four-wheel drive might make BMW’s powerful M cars more useable, van Meel assured us there were no plans to explore practical estate versions such as an M3 or M5 Touring.
“I had the same question the other way around in my former job. Why not explore an RS sedan? BMW is not a Touring-focused group. Popularity is still stronger on the sedan [saloon] side, so when people connect to BMW, it’s sedan. What people connect to the company next door [Audi], it’s another body shape.
“That body shape is not popular in China and not popular in the US – and as the US is our biggest market, we would be making a model that our biggest market does not want.”
However, he wouldn’t rule out the prospect of extending the X-model M car line-up. When challenged on the idea of an X3M or X4M, he simply commented: “That might be a business opportunity.”
The previous-gen X5M and X6M enjoyed enormous success worldwide – especially in America – and with new models ready for launch very soon, that win looks set to continue.
What do you think of BMW's decision to venture into four-wheel-drive for its M cars?