By on October 31, 2019

2019 BMW M2 Competition badge

It’s quite possible a gasp of horror escaped from your lips after laying eyes on the upcoming BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe for the first time. Unmistakably front-drive in profile, the brand’s new entry point ⁠— which happens to be based on the X1 and X2 crossovers ⁠— saw fit to avoid front-drive-only models in North America.

The same goes for the X1 and X2, though overseas buyers can find themselves a Bimmer that only pulls, never pushes. Just don’t ever expect to find one bearing a coveted M badge, the automaker promises.

Speaking to Australia’s CarAdvice, BMW M boss Markus Flasch said high-performance badging will never appear on a front-drive car, just rear- or all-wheel drive models. Perhaps that’s already too broad a landscape, given some purists’ lack of enthusiasm for the upcoming M235i xDrive Gran Coupe and the X2 M35i. Still, it’s a nod towards tradition, and it’s in keeping with how rival Mercedes-Benz configures its AMG-badged products.

When asked if a front-drive M car is something the brand has up its sleeve, Flasch said, simply, “No, it’s not.”

2017 BMW X4 M40i fender M badge, Image: © 2016 Kevin Mio/The Truth About Cars

“We have a very strong offering in the M2 so we figure there’s no need to have a high-performance car based on the 2 Series and then a performance car based on the 1 Series,” he added.

BMW just switched its 1 Series, which U.S. buyers can’t have, from rear-drive to a front-drive layout for the 2020 model year. Like the model’s 2 Series Gran Coupe platform mate, 1 Series models offered with xDrive are deemed worthy of an M. Expect to see an M135i hatch on the European market in short order.

As for the unrelated, rear-drive 2 Series coupe, that model’s M variant is a fun pocket rocket with lots of cred. It’s also almost single-handedly keeping the manual transmission alive in the brand’s U.S. lineup, and it doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon.

Calling it the brand’s “most charismatic and purest model,” Flasch said the automaker has a 2 Series follow-up in the works, and it will not arrive with anything but a rear-biased drivetrain.

“The M135i xDrive is very attractive in the performance segment but if you really want high performance, customers will always go for the M2,” he said.

[Images: Chris Tonn/TTAC, Kevin Mio/TTAC]

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19 Comments on “BMW’s Not Entirely Breaking With Tradition...”

  • avatar

    As long as no ones pretending Front wheel biased AWD is in any way more attractive than regular FWD then whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Any AWD is better than FWD. And if it’s done right, FWD-biased AWD is a lot better than FWD. Just ask Audi with their recent switch to Ultra AWD.

    • 0 avatar

      FWD has issues with hills in the snow. I live in a hilly area and it’s horrible at climbing when the roads get slick.

    • 0 avatar

      Rear wheel biased AWD is great, but front wheel biased AWD is unpredictable and in many cases makes the situation worse, or uses clutches that are incapable of engaging until after the situation is too bad to save.

    • 0 avatar

      For “performance” driving, or plain driver enjoyment, I mostly agree. But there are practical reasons, say steep slippery driveways in the winter, or just poor roads/trails, which benefit greatly from being able to put some power to all four.

    • 0 avatar

      My TLX SH-AWD would beg to differ.

      The only real limitation with FWD derived AWD is limitations in torque/power.

  • avatar

    “[BMW] saw fit to avoid front-drive-only models in North America. The same goes for the X1 and X2, though overseas buyers can find themselves a Bimmer that only pulls, never pushes.”

    Just FYI, buyers don’t have to go overseas for that, the X1 and X2 are absolutely available in FWD here as the X1 sDrive28i and X2 sDrive28i.

  • avatar

    I am not worthy of BMW (and I am ok with that). [My wallet just relaxed a bit.]

  • avatar

    Torque steer is fun! /not really

    Even with a mighty 160-something horsepower, the wife’s (now departed) MINI was a handful from a dead stop and especially on crummy roads. And that was a 7-something 0-60 car. I know suspension work, blah, blah, but *FWD is something I don’t particularly like.

    You get used to it in a FWD but RWD (or many AWDs) has a smoother transition between control — loss of control.

    *Note, I’ve never driven a V6 Camry or Accord or even a VW GTI but heavier cars like a Park Avenue don’t seem as bad. Would be happy to hear driving impressions on any of the more powerful FWDs.

    • 0 avatar


      I ve owned 2 V 6 Accords. 2003 and a 2009. Drove them hard on occaision. ~ 80,000 miles total.
      I did not see objectionable levels of torque steer nor torque tightening.

    • 0 avatar

      Went out with a friend in their Accord 2.0T 10A earlier this week. On whatever cheap tires the EX-L comes with that thing will spin the tires through 3rd or so gear. I had an Optima 2.0T… it took a different approach. Would basically lock you out of power for 2 or so seconds once it detected wheelspin, which was often.

      If I can help it, I hope to never own a FWD car again. The only way would be something like a stripped out DOHC VTEC Honda for pure track duty.

      • 0 avatar

        My 2019 Touring “barks” the tires, then you better hang on!

        I wonder if your friend got the Goodyears instead of the Michelins. I’m not certain what tires Honda uses for the 17” Accord wheels.

  • avatar

    “BMW M boss Markus Flasch said high-performance badging will never appear on a front-drive car, just rear- or all-wheel drive models.”

    Translation: We know wrong wheel drive is a joke, but you’re the fools who keep buying this crap.

    • 0 avatar

      Smaller cars simply package so much better with a transverse four, that for any of them less singularly driver focused than a Miata, it just make sense. And it’s not as if there’s a single BMW in current production, sans perhaps the M2, which is half as entertaining a drive ON THE STREET as the old, FWD, ITR anyway; so things aren’t that black and white.

  • avatar


    Acting as if they have any heritage when all their new M cars are automatic-only.


  • avatar

    Front wheel drive cars can drive just fine when they’re properly engineered. When BMW first brought over their Mini Cooper, my then-girlfriend was quick to order one. It was lots of fun to drive but fell apart in less than two years. I’ve also owned BMWs. I stopped buying BMWs when they stopped making good looking cars that drove better than higher quality alternatives. Would I buy a premium FWD car? Yes. Would I buy a FWD BMW? No, but mostly because their current offerings are comically hideous and there are companies that make cars that are just as nice to drive while being much better engineered and built.

  • avatar

    It is a simple matter of … powah.

    If your rears drive and fronts steer, you split the jobs. This works until the rears have too much power, like vette C5, C6 or C7. This almost never happens in normal commuter cars, so….

    We go FWD. Cheaper to make and assemble, but now one set of wheels does nothing and the fronts do all the work. I’ve had a bunch of SAAB, GTi, etc and you can do a lot with FWD, but you are limited eventually.

    You need to be AWD above a threshold (think Nissan GT-R) because then you can get all the power to the ground with stability.

    An M car has a performance threshold that is too high for FWD only. VW-Audi’s S3/Rtype is AWD.

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