The enthusiast's choice is least likely to be bought.
The 2021 BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe are now arriving at dealerships across the United States, meaning you will likely start to see them out on the road. Four models are currently available, including the base M3 and M4 with 473 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission, or the Competition models with 503 hp and an eight-speed automatic. But after speaking with BMW on a call to discuss the new M3 and M4, CarBuzz learned that none of these four launch models are expected to be the most popular.
During a presentation on the new models, BMW says it expects most buyers worldwide to wait for the Competition models with the optional M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, which will arrive this summer in the US. On the M3, BMW expects 12% of customers to select the base manual car, 28% to get the Competition, and 60% to choose the Competition with xDrive. These numbers are slightly different for the M4 at 8% for the manual, 29% for the RWD Competition, and 63% for the Competition with xDrive.
Those provided figures estimate the global market, but the US is a bit unique. "The North American markets (the US and Canada) tend to have a higher proportion of the sedan model and the manual transmission compared to the rest of the world," Hagen Franke, BMW Product Management for M3 and M4 said. Since the US is the largest market for the M3 and M4, with around 40% and 31% of all sales respectively, that explains why BMW expects the manual M3 to be a tad more popular than the manual M4.
"The manual transmission is very coveted in the US. This is something we've had on an M3 going back to the original E30," BMW North America spokesperson John Kelly added. "It's something that our customers have been asking that we retain." Despite this enthusiasm, the manual M3 and M4 are expected to be the rarest of the six configurations by far.
"We expect there to be significant demand for all-wheel-drive in the US," Kelly told CarBuzz. "Some of the demand stems from ease-of-use; it's easier to put the power down when it's going to four wheels. But it's also geographic. In the winter, our customers appreciate having it."
As a reminder, M xDrive will only be available on the automatic Competition models, so there's no way to get a manual car with AWD. BMW's M xDrive system includes 4WD and 4WD Sport modes, as well as a 2WD mode with no safety interventions activated. With AWD grip and the ability to enter RWD mode for drifting and power slides, we aren't surprised that BMW expects most M3 and M4 shoppers to opt for four driven wheels.