Future BMW M cars are almost certain to be offered with four-wheel drive.
Speaking ahead of the Geneva motor show, BMW marketing boss Ian Robertson said: "Four-wheel drive is becoming more and more normal. In terms of mainstream BMW 3 Series and 5 Series sales it is a prerequiste, as it is also for the BMW 7 Series in many markets. The fact is that rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models can live together in our range.
"For future BMW M products with four-wheel drive, you'll have to watch this space."
Robertson's comments echo those of Frank van Meel, the recently appointed head of BWM's M division, who previously worked for Audi's RS offshoot.
Speaking at the Detroit motor show, he told Autocar that BMW's M car four-wheel drive programme would likely begin with the next-generation M5 and M6. He also stressed that the models would still be rear-biased, and the technology would be used to increase traction in order to avoid the understeer traits with which all-wheel-drive performance cars are associated.
“The philosophy will remain rear-wheel drive, even if there is all-wheel drive,” he said. “As we increase power and torque, then the M5 and M6 will have large outputs, so we’ll look at those solutions [all-wheel drive] with these cars in the future.”
Roberston also denied that the M brand was at risk of being diluted from its core performance values as a result of developing offshoots including M-badged SUVs, diesel-powered M Performance cars and M prefixed cars such as the M235i.
"M is understood as a brand, and is anchored in the core models, which continue to be an outstanding success," said Robertson. "We have a broad offering, but that has not hindered our success."