Despite its competitors offering AWD, BMW's M division plans to stick with RWD and manual gearboxes - for now.
Due to a variety of reasons, the common rear-wheel-drive car with a manual transmission is quickly disappearing as a mainstream setup. With all-wheel drive and dual-clutch gearboxes taking their places, old school driving enthusiasts are quickly finding themselves with fewer options when shopping for a new car. In addition to high-performance Audis like the RS6 and RS7, even Mercedes-Benz plans to offer AWD in the new E63 AMG. But that’s not the case for BMW’s M division.
A new report coming from Autocar is claiming that BMW M boss Friedrich Nitschke has reiterated his company’s commitment to RWD stating that "Our philosophy in regards to steering feel and precision is that rear-wheel-drive is the best solution." Claiming that AWD simply adds too much weight for a true performance setup, Nitschke also brought up the subject of manual gearboxes. In regards to the M5, M6 and M6 Gran Coupe which BMW has a manual option for the US market only, Nitschke stated that "as long as there is demand, we’ll offer the manual."
In Europe, however, there's much less demand for a manual in those models. The statement seems to ignore models like the X5 M and X6 M, which both pack all-wheel drive and automatic transmissions. Nitschke also did confirm what we’ve suspected for a while: BMW will continue to move away from naturally-aspirated engines to turbocharging because the latter "is better for fuel savings and C02." At least BMW is sticking with two of the three elements that make for an ideal high-performance car.