Audi has earned its performance reputation on the strength of its quattro all-wheel drive, and Mercedes-Benz is now building its 2014 E63 AMG with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive. While Europe will still be able to get 2014 CLS63 AMG models in rear-drive, those imported to the U.S. will likely be 4Matic models exclusively.

Does this indicate that the oft-heard rumor of an AWD BMW M5 is based on more than just speculation? Could BMW be planning M models that use its own xDrive for added traction (and added appeal for customers in snow belt states)?

No, according to Autocar, which quotes BMW M head Friedrich Nitschke as saying, “Our philosophy in regards to steering feel and precision is that rear-wheel drive is the best solution.”

Nitschke cites a weight penalty of up to 198 pounds for the company’s xDrive all-wheel drive, which would further impact performance. He bills the M differential as the “industry’s best rear-drive set up,” adding to the reasons for staying the current course.

Purists have more good news as well: BMW will continue offering M models with manual gearboxes, too, as long as there remains a demand among customers. While it would be more efficient (and less expensive) to offer only the dual-clutch automated manual, BMW wants to keep its enthusiast fans happy.

A new M3 sedan is imminent (along with an M4 coupe and convertible), but don’t expect to see an M version of the new 3-Series Gran Turismo, unless market conditions warrant such a vehicle. BMW fans critical of the 3-Series GT’s styling will likely file that under the heading of “good news” as well.