What is BMW sDrive and how does it differ to xDrive?

15th Sep 2022

By Daniel Hitchman

What is BMW sDrive?

Simply put, sDrive is what BMW refer to as their two-wheel drive models. In the past, BMW's range of cars were rear-wheel drive, but they have introduced front-wheel drive models in recent times.

An important thing to remember is that sDrive models only ever power two wheels on a BMW, unlike xDrive, which refers to the brand's all-wheel drive vehicles.

This guide at a glance

What is the difference between sDrive and xDrive?

BMW 1 Series, white and blue models

The only difference between sDrive and xDrive are the wheels powered by the engine and transmission.

sDrive models are only two-wheel drive. This could refer to any BMW that is rear-wheel drive, such as the Z4, or one that is front-wheel drive, such as the 1 Series.

By comparison, xDrive models are all-wheel drive, which means the engine and transmission distribute power and torque to all four wheels. BMW models that are available with xDrive, or come with it as standard, include the 3 Series and X5.

What are the pros of BMW sDrive?

BMW 3 Series driving in the countryside

BMW is renowned for creating cars that are engaging to drive, which reflects in the majority of their sDrive models. Advantages of sDrive include:

  • Fuel efficient: Compared to their xDrive counterparts, BMW's two-wheel drive models are lighter, which translates to greater fuel economy. This is not the only factor that influences efficiency, but it certainly helps.
  • Fun to drive: For the most part, sDrive models offer a more focused driving experience compared to vehicles that are all-wheel drive.
  • Less expensive to buy: Because there are fewer components used to get an sDrive model moving compared to an all-wheel drive vehicle, they are notably less expensive to buy.

What are the cons of BMW sDrive?

The cons are not unique to sDrive. In fact, they impact any car that sends power to a single axle.

  • Traction: Any car that drives two wheels is always going to be compromised when compared to one that drives all four wheels. This is because each contact patch (i.e. the tyres) can distribute the engine's power and torque more effectively. This issue is most notable during wintery driving conditions.
  • Towing: Typically, two-wheel drive cars have a lower towing capacity than vehicles with all-wheel drive. The reason for this mostly relates to the point about traction above.
  • Performance: Because fewer wheels are transferring the power from the engine to the wheels and tyres, two-wheel drive cars mostly struggle to match the acceleration available in all-wheel drive vehicles.

Best BMW cars with sDrive

Whilst there are a variety of BMW models that can be delivered with sDrive, we believe these are the best picks.

Find your perfect BMW with Stratstone

With the various marketing terms and acronyms flying around the automotive space, it can be difficult to keep up with the features of some cars. We trust this guide has given helpful insight into sDrive, as well as how it compares to xDrive.

For more useful driving information, or general motoring tips, please head over to our blog section.