BMW M division plans to stick with rear drive, despite the new Mercedes E63 and CLS63 AMG offering 4Matic all-wheel drive to left-hand-drive markets and Audi’s recently revealed quattro-equipped RS6 and RS7.

BMW M boss Friedrich Nitschke reiterated his stance to Autocar at the Detroit motor show last month. “Our philosophy in regards to steering feel and precision is that rear-wheel drive is the best solution,” he said. “xDrive brings an 80-90kg weight penalty and the M differential is the industry’s best rear-drive set-up.”

He also discussed the future of manuals. The M5, M6, and new M6 Gran Coupé are available with a six-speed manual ’box in the US. “From a production aspect, it would be much better to only offer the dual-clutch gearbox,” said Nitschke. “But as long as there is demand, we’ll offer the manual.”

Regarding the move away from naturally aspirated engines, Nitschke said: “It’s not a change in philosophy, it’s a change in technology. Turbocharging is better for fuel savings and CO2.”

He also confirmed there were no imminent plans for an M3 version of the 3-series GT. “At the moment, we have an M3 coupé, saloon, and convertible. We do not see additional variants at the moment. But it depends on market requirements.”

Marc Noordeloos