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Published Date: 21/02/2016

30 years of BMW AWD

Although BMW's reputation has been traditionally built on the driving experience of rear-wheel drive, it's been a four-wheel drive pioneer for 30 years too.

The story begins in 1985 with the iconic E30 3 Series. The 325i “Allrad” was debuted at the Frankfurt motorshow that year and equipped with a full-time all-wheel-drive system, which split power 37:63 front to back. Indistinguishable from the regular car from the outside, it wasn't until journalists drove it on the test track that the difference was apparent.

With its credentials established, the model was put on sale and renamed 325iX. Offered in a “touring” estate variant too. It was the first in a long succession of attractive, functional and capable all-wheel-drive BMWs.

30 years of BMW AWD

Four-wheel drive reached the 5 Series in 1991 with the 525iX. While the earlier car used a mechanical system, the 525iX employed an electronic multi-plate clutch system. Wheel speed through the ABS and Engine speed were all monitored and the system adapted to conditions according to the data. It was a revolutionary system for its day, setting the template and the concept for electronically controlled systems to follow.

1999 saw a radical change, as BMW adopted the 'four wheel drive' car with its X5 model - the first in a range of large cars that were, until then, seen as utilitarian vehicles for rural dwellers. The X5 was pitched as an “SAV” (sports activity vehicle), delivering a previously unheard of standard in on road performance for a vehicle in its segment.

The game moved on again in 2003 with the modern xDrive system. With a fast-acting electronic multi-plate clutch working in tandem with the Dynamic Stability Control system (DSC), xDrive is a truly intelligent all-wheel drive system. Constantly taking driving conditions into account, xDrive can detect risk of wheel slip and prevent it rather than simply reacting to it. This launched with the new BMW X3 that year and the refreshed X5.

The system rapidly spread throughout the BMW range, with xDrive models of the 3 and 5 Series and a new selection of off-road and off-road styled X series vehicles - X6 in 2007 and X1 in 2009. As the models were refreshed and new vehicles introduced, xDrive became an option on many more cars than before.

Modern motoring introduces a new challenge for vehicle manufacturers, with electric hybrid vehicles. BMW xDrive is the ideal solution to marry together two powertrains - internal combustion and electric motor - to provide smooth power delivery and maximum efficiency at all times.

For more information on BMW xDrive, visit your local Inchcape site, or click here for information on our X Series model offers.

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