BMW Explains Its xDrive Intelligent All-Wheel Drive System

BMW xDrive explained 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from Youtube
If not hundreds then tens of guides about all-wheel drive systems are available on the internet, including the BMW xDrive system and yet, the Germans decided to explain it once again for the masses. Admittedly, most of these guides are extremely technical and rely heavily on a big previous background with technical terms so a more toned down version would be welcome.
Don’t be fooled however, as the following video was designed mostly for marketing purposes and not actually as a teaching means. How can I tell? Let’s just say that the last couple of seconds will tell you all about it.

As for the xDrive system, everything said in the video is true. The all-wheel drive transmission BMW uses today is called ‘intelligent’ because it uses a plethora of sensors (mostly related to ABS and wheel speed measurement means) to detect when a loss of traction happens.

That’s not a new thing because older version also used to do that. What’s new is the amount of sensors included in the mix. There’s also a couple more bits involved as well.

In the past, most system used to rely on hydraulics to change the torque distribution whereas today we have electronic multi-clutch differentials that can react a lot faster, therefore possibly even saving your life.

On BMWs, the power can be sent to the front or the rear axle with a 95 percent to 5 percent split either way. However, other systems allow a distribution of power of up to 100% to a single wheel in case it is needed.

Another interesting debate is how the more recent differentials impact handling on the road. As you well know, BMWs are known for their rear-wheel drive setup and the original xDrive systems used to be extremely RWD biased getting rid of understeer that is rather specific to AWD cars.

Well, in more recent models, understeer is making a comeback and it’s really a damn shame. There’s torque vectoring now available but on the X4 and X6 we tested, it seems to do not such a great job.

All this sounds bad but the truth of the matter is, unless you’re willing to go to the track or drive like a maniac on public roads, those differences in handling won’t be noticeable. Furthermore, in snowy parts of the world, xDrive will be of great help keeping you and your loved ones safe and that’s all that matters.

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