By on June 6, 2014

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Even though BMW foists upon us unfortunate derivative junk like the X4, 3-Series GT and 4-Series Gran Coupe (which, I’ve only recently just made sense of), at least they give us models like the 2-Series. Which just happened to get better for anyone who lives in the snowbelt.

Later on this summer, xDrive AWD will be available on both the 228i and the M235i, for an extra $1800. As much as the 228i might be the pur sang option, even moreso than the M235i, I would not hesitate to anger forum purists and Build Your Own window shoppers by ordering the xDrive version. Yes, I know that with proper snow tires and a modicum of skill, two wheel drive cars are just fine in the snow – I’ve driven two Miatas with LSDs and no ABS in dreadful winters, and I’ve never had a hairy moment. But there are times when I would have appreciated two extra driven wheels, and if I were in the market for this car, I’d have no qualms with forking over the extra $1,800. In my mind, it’s a WRX coupe with two fewer doors and a nicer interior.

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41 Comments on “BMW Taketh, BMW Giveth (More Traction)...”


  • avatar

    I’d really love to see a breakdown of the % of luxury car buyers who take AWD…

    …and the % of self-appointed “enthusiasts” who claim “RWD and winter tires are all I need”

    AWD is typically the most expensive option a car offers (behind Nav and a panoramic roof).

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      I’m one of those self-appointed enthusiasts, and I bought my 3-series with AWD and a stick. I live in Ohio, and I’m always happy about that decision in the winter. I briefly considered the 2-series as a replacement down the road, but I didn’t want RWD. If this xDrive version is offered with a manual, I’ll probably buy one when the current one starts its inevitable German descent into the 4-figure recurring repairs. At least, I will if it hasn’t been Camry-fied like the 3- and 5-series loaners they bring me.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I live in Maine, and bought my 3-series wagon with rwd and stick. As my 2-series will be as well (planning ED summer of 2016).

        I cannot see the necessity for AWD in an exclusively on-road vehicle. You pay more upfront, you pay more in gas, and God-forbid something goes wrong with any of it. Snow tires are effectively free if you keep a car long enough to buy a second set of tires. If the roads are so bad that AWD actually makes a difference, I am staying put or driving my snow tire shod Range Rover. Which actually has the ground clearance to make use of AWD, and I could not care less if someone hits it.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Newsflash…man with beater 4WD SUV has no need for car with AWD…you’re killing me over here!

          I’ve never encountered snow on the roads where ground clearance really matters. I’m sure it happens in ME for you but not in MA. WRX and Outback plow right through whatever, though the Outback beats most SUVs for ground clearance at 8.7 inches. I run snows on my old ES, but on a snowy day I’m taking the Outback. This debate is silly and it will go one forever. Wy don’t you trade that RR for a 2WD pickup if you don’t need AWD ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I had the BMW long before the Rover. Many a RWD Volvo and Peugeot as well. The truth is overall the BMW is FAR better in slippery conditions than the Rover, up to the point where it does not have enough ground clearance. But if some idiot slides into it, I will cry. The Rover is disposable.

            2WD pickups are useless because they have no weight over the drive wheels. BMW sedan is ~50:50, my wagon is actually 48:52.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Huh poor rover must have AWD issues, or bad tires? I’ll bet you $1000 cash right out of my own pocket if you can beat our Outback 0-40, 50, whatever in the snow in your 2WD BMW.

            I mean you and the Internet says snows beats AWD right, so it should win? That would be a great deal for you.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Power6

            There is more to driving in snow than accelerating. Obviously, the AWD Rover will leave the 2wd BMW in the dust in a drag race. But I like to be able to go around corners, and I REALLY like to be able to stop. Even though the Rover has top-notch snow tires, and is perfectly capable of plowing through 12″+ of unplowed snow, overall the BMW handles better on slippery surfaces. First, it weighs almost *1500lbs* less. That is 1500lbs less to stop with limited traction, and 1500lbs less to try to keep on the road in a slippery curve. Simple physics.
            Second, the BMW has a modern stability control system that is the next best thing to miraculous in it’s ability to save you from your own stupidity. The computer IS smarter than you are, and it has the equivalent of four brake pedals.

            So how about a $2000 bet that my BMW will stop faster in the snow than your Outback? Even with the same snow tires on both cars. Or a race around an icy road course would be interesting as well.

            RWD got a bad name in the snow because most people have never driven anything but nose heavy pickups and/or old rwd cars in the snow.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I think we are in agreement bud, i like to stop and steer too. It is just the whole snow tires are equivalent drum beats hard around here, and as you see no one would bet against awd in starting traction. Ill keep using both for our awd car. My ES300 runs fine in snow, but it can’t touch the outback.

          Rwd got a bad name because tires used to suck all year long, nobody wants to change them for winter and awd cars and trucks are readily avaiable now. You gotta have a good reason to buy the rwd model in snow country, and the typical bmw buyer isnt going to be you!

          This whole debate is dumb and the coy enthusiasts here who just cant possibly understand why the common man buys a cuv with awd…not directed at you but man if i could short internet intelligence like a stock…

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      I remember reading the push to luxury AWD cars was because customers really liked how they felt more secure and solid in inclement conditions. I drove and LS460 AWD before buying the RWD version and am glad for my choice. The dynamics are not that much different, but I still prefer the feeling of being pushed. That and the relative reduction in mechanical complexity.

      In Canada it seems like the product mix they send here must be almost 50/50. I see tons of S-class 4matics and 7 series X-drives around here. Kinda pointless in BC’s weather, but still less useless than a luxury SUV I guess…

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      RWD and winter tires ARE pretty much all you need. AWD only helps during acceleration and doesn’t do much (if anything) when slowing down, except to add more weight to the equation. Winter tires help at all times.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Very much depends where you are in the country.

      Here in the Northwest, and anywhere else where it snows often, it can be hard to find a RWD example of any car that’s offered with AWD. As an example, my local Lexus dealer has 21 GS350s on the lot and all 21 are AWD. But in California and the South it can be the other way around, with AWD examples very hard to find.

  • avatar
    dude500

    Is it a true AWD system, or a part time system? Like the difference between the Quattro on the A3 and A4?

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      If it’s the same as the current xDrive systems, it defaults to a 60:40 rear bias, and there’s a clutch that shuttles power around based on a variety of factors like throttle opening, steering angle, speed, wheel slip, etc. It has open front and rear differentials and uses the brakes to manage wheelspin.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    Just give me a 335i wagon in any drive and I’ll pay $1800 more for a manual trans. Heck, I’d even take it with the 2.0 4-cyl

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Yes, I would pay more for manual, too.

      I would also pay more for RWD.

      My local Mercedes dealer has no RWD C-class or E-class in stock. Special order only.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        If BMW would sell me a rwd stick F31 3-series wagon, there would be one in my garage already with a $50K hole in my wallet. I find it to be usefully bigger than my e91, and I actually like the way the new cars look and drive. But if I can’t have it my way, f’em, I’ll keep the one I have.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          I had no idea, until now, that you couldn’t get stick in the current 3 wagon. WTF! I guess the Bavarians finally conceded that they cannot compete in RWD, stick, performance oriented, drivers cars; against Cadillac! Bizarre!

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        4Matic is pretty thick on the ground here in FL too, oddly enough. Just about every current gen E-class has it. I bet most of these people just want another badge on the trunk.

        • 0 avatar
          Kevin Jaeger

          I noticed how common 4matic was last time I was in Florida and certainly found it odd. I’ve never seen so much flat and wide pavement in my life. What would be the appeal of 4matic in a place like that?

          Obviously people are free to buy what they want but it certainly seems a waste to me.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            As a FL resident I too can confirm the 4matic Benz abounds. I assume the residents of Boca automatically check every option or be judged as too frugal when pulling up to the valet.

            It can’t be because it sometimes rains here. However judging from the 10 fold increase in accidents during rainy days (IE: every afternoon in the summer) maybe more people should go with AWD. As we joke about sometimes down here there should be one wiper setting above “high/fast” called “Florida”.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I used to be an AWD fan but since getting my first RWD BMW I have changed. I briefly owned an AWD E91 with manual transmission but just could not warm up to that car. Yes, it had excellent traction and very secure handling, especially with staggered PS2s in the summer and PA2s in the winter. I really liked its AWD system, it was significantly better that what I had in prior Subarus. However, I just could get used to it. The steering was not the same, the clutch was not as perfect and the gearshift was not as effortless. It annoyed me enough that I eventually got rid of it. I still drive my original RWD E46, which I just cannot get enough of. Wife drives a RWD E60 550i M Sport 6-speed — I like that car a lot, too.

    I did test drive a RWD E91 — the RWD version was much better. All my complaints were addressed.

    • 0 avatar
      iganpo

      Totally agree! I got my e46 coupe as Rwd (no awd back then) drove through many New England winters with snow tires, and not once did I wish for awd. Never ever got stuck was even able to climb hills with traction control going crazy. Two years ago I bought an e91 for my wife and went with the 2wd to save money and weight and preserve some driving feel.

  • avatar

    YOu drove two miatas on LSD? That must have been a blast!!!

    Seriously, though, buy whatever maximizes your utility (economist jargon, slightly abused). I would not doubt that anyone in the snow belt who has to be out in all kinds of weather would find it less stressful with AWD and good (preferably snow) tires than with 2WD. But since the times at least around Boston when they haven’t yet plowed are generally fractions of days several times a winter, I’d rather get the car that will be most fun and least trouble most of the time.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    I was surpised to notice that an AWD version of the IS250 exists. Even more surpised that the example in question belongs to someone who lives exclusively in Phoenix.

    Since the IS250 is underwhelming in terms of power and the IS250C utterly massochistic in that regard, I’m left to conclude that a Phoenix dealer ordered it by mistake and the owner (I know her and yes,she likes to drive slowly) got a heck of a deal after it sat on the lot for a year or so.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This is gonna be one dense little car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Amazingly, a RWD M235i weighs as much as my e91 station wagon! Dense indeed. 228i is a good bit lighter though.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Well now the 2 is the new 3 series in traditional size, so that makes sense. Now you are implying this turbo inline 6 weighs that much more? So used to motor size not changing the weight that much these days. I was reading an old Mustang review from the 60s, the small vs big block difference was like 400lbs over the front axle…

        Saw one of those new 3 series wagons…gee that would be nice…check Internet, oh no stick, really want to go back to stick in my next car. Not ready for the BMW price yet anyways.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          228i is ~150lbs lighter than the M235i, most of it in the nose. It’s not just the engine, the six gets bigger brakes, bigger radiator, bigger transmission. It all adds up. There is a ripple effect to adding the bigger motor. And since the 6 is longer, it changes the weight distribution a few percent too.

          The accountant in me certainly can’t blame BMW for the limited options on the wagon, but it still ticks me right off. So I will keep my current wagon and get a 228i to replace my Abarth in a couple years.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Where’s the 220i?

  • avatar
    wmba

    Derek, you say, ” … and I’ve never had a hairy moment.”

    Never?

    I suppose that’s why you should be in Formula 1, with car control like that!

    Here in Nova Scotia, you never see Miatas driving around in winter. Come Spring, they’re everywhere. In fact last weekend I was at a friend’s barbecue 60 miles from Halifax, and he was prepping the Miata for the summer when I got there. I asked him why he didn’r drive it in winter, and he looked at me incredulously. “Have YOU driven one of these in winter? Don’t talk s**t, man!”

    I can only pass his question on to you. Perhaps Toronto has the world’s best snow-clearing, seeing as they call in the army with shovels when you get more than 15 centimetres.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      One interpretation is that he has great control. The other is that he has a high threshold for what he considers “hairy.” If by that he means he’s never had a moment that exceeds the run-of-the-mill “oh, $#!%” Russian dash cam footage with cows falling out of a low-flying helicopter strafing against traffic while dodging the occasional tank during a 360 deg spin-out in the middle of passing a flipped car, then of course I believe him (because I’m pretty sure that counts as ‘hairy’ in anyone’s book).

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Or it could be that a Miata with snow tires is perfectly OK on slippery roads. A friend drove one as his only car here in Maine for many years. Never a problem, as long as the roads are plowed. Rusted to oblivion though. Mazdas don’t like salt, which is the best reason not to drive a Miata in the winter.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Probably just a different definition of “hairy”. He’s probably had plenty of “moments”, as that’s what makes winter driving so fun. Besides, there’s nothing hairy about what actually makes a Miata poorly suited to winter driving: getting high-centered. That slows you down in a hurry!

  • avatar
    natrat

    “I’ve driven two Miatas with LSDs and no ABS in dreadful winters, and I’ve never had a hairy moment”

    yea but you can never safely drift and then punch it out of a corner without fear of spinning into the ditch or traffic. Tail out fun is one thing but feeling all wheels grip and drama free acceleration is another. I need a new car and the 228 might do the trick but the whole encyclopedia of options is bewildering, it might be easier to just get the vw

  • avatar
    Guildenstern

    Hey as long as they don’t force you to get xDrive like in the Wagons here whatever floats their OMG SNOWPOCALYPSE! boats. I’ve never had a problem getting where I needed to go no-matter what wheels were or were not driven on my car, and with and without traction control. I just don’t get the AWD security blanket thing up here in Ohio. I’m dealing with it now with my father who indoctrinated me on RWD for Life. At least he’s smart enough to still put winter tires on his cars even with AWD. You still need to maneuver and stop both things AWD doesn’t help with at all.

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