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BMW Australia gets to grips on all-paw 3 Series

Four-site: BMW Australia looks to have changed its tune on all-wheel-drive passenger cars, like it did in New Zealand, and the 3 Series Touring may be first off the mark.

First BMW-badged all-wheel drive wagon lining up for Australia

18 Oct 2013

BMW has revealed it is considering adding its first-ever all-wheel-drive non-SUV passenger car to Australia after an experiment in New Zealand proved a runaway success.

The German luxury car-maker’s New Zealand arm has introduced an xDrive version – as BMW’s all-paw system is known – in diesel-engined Touring wagons, with sales of the generally slow-selling car spiking in response to the change.

Now BMW Australia has sat up and taken note despite saying months ago it had no real interest in xDrive for anything other than SUVs, with talks now centring on whether the time is right for the car-maker to abandon its long-running rear-drive focus to pitch a product squarely at Audi’s quattro system.

“Quattro has worked for Audi, so there’s no reason to think it won’t work for us as well,” BMW Australia product communications manager Scott Croaker told GoAuto.

“The xDrive version of the Touring has been received quite well in New Zealand, so yes, it’s something we’re taking a look at for here – the time could be right,” he said.

BMW’s xDrive system, which varies the amount of power sent to the front and rear wheels depending on how much grip is available, was previously not engineered into right-hand drive vehicles. However, the all-paw system is now available across a range of conventional passenger vehicles in right-hand drive.

However, BMW New Zealand corporate communications manager Ed Finn said his division of the company decided to take a punt on the technology when it became available for the 3 Series Touring, boosting sales of the Touring in the process as buyers warmed to it.

Since, xDrive has been made available on the 318d, 320d and 330d models sold in NZ, boosting sales of the car as buyers warmed to the technology.

BMW Australia sells only a single diesel version of the Touring in Australia – the 318d, priced from $57,800.

By comparison, the all-wheel-drive version of Audi’s A4 Avant, the 2.0-litre petrol-only 2.0 TFSI, starts from $68,800.

Both Mercedes-Benz and Lexus also sell all-wheel-drive versions of their non-SUV passenger car range in overseas markets, but not Australia.

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