All-Wheel-Drive BMW M5 Caught Testing in the Snow

M purists’ worst nightmare?

Those who hold on to the idea that true "M" models from BMW's M performance division must be rear-wheel-drive might want to look away. Spy photographers captured a current-generation (F10) BMW M5 out testing in an arctic environment, with a special twist. While the car was parked, the photographers snuck a few peeks underneath the chassis and found driveshafts connected to the front wheels in addition to the rear wheels, indicating that this is a potential test bed for high-performance all-wheel-drive applications in the future, with an AWD M5 xDrive a high possibility.

Previously, we have only seen xDrive AWD used on the M-badged SUVs, the BMW X5 M and the X6 M. Rival offerings from Audi's RS division have always featured standard AWD, and Mercedes-AMG has recently made the switch to AWD drivetrains on some AMG models including the high-performance E63 AMG S sedan and wagon.

BMW has previously hinted at the potential use of AWD applications in their full-blown M models. At the 2015 Detroit auto show, AUTOMOBILE discussed the future of all-wheel drive for M models with BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel. "If we were to do a four-wheel drive [car], it should be rear-wheel drive with traction, as I like to say," Meel said. "It needs to drive like an M should drive. If that were possible with four-wheel drive, to get those vehicle dynamics, then it would be suitable for us."

Though the new performance all-wheel-drive system is seen here testing on the current-generation M5, this car is likely a mule for testing purposes. We're more likely to see this new system debut on the next-generation BMW M5, which should debut sometime in 2015 or 2016. Stay tuned for more information about the future of the BMW M division and the possible use of all-wheel drive.

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