The BMW M3s of old were an absolute hoot. First was the E92 generation M3 with the gorgeous sounding naturally aspirated V8. Then came the F80 sedan and F82 coupe, more commonly known as the BMW M3 and M4. The F80/82 generation cars were the first in the M3’s lineage to feature a turbocharged engine. The first to split the names for both 2 and 4-door variants, though I do miss the old days when I could refer to these models simply as the sedan and the coupe.
(Related Story: BMW is finally making an M3 wagon)
And now, after months of speculation, a bunch of teaser images and tons of online renders, BMW has finally lifted the covers off their brand new M4 coupe and M3 sedan. And would you look at that grille.
The new G80/G82 generation M3 and M4 are based off the G20 sedan and G22 coupe respectively, but they are both vastly different compared to the standard cars. I mean, look at that grille!! Visually, the M4 does resemble the 4 series coupe it’s based on. Albeit with a ton of carbon and composite goodies. The new vertical grille design was a bold step for BMW’s designers. And in the coupe silhouette, it’s not all that bad. And especially so on the M4 with the frameless black design. But in comparison, the new M3 is rather…. lacklustre.
Instead of the regular G20 3-series headlights (which look rather good if I do say so myself), BMW has opted for the more curvaceous oval shaped units that adorn the 4 series. And although the 4 series’ unconventional styling cues do kind of work well on a coupe, it might’ve been the wrong call on the sedan. The front and rear track of the M4 is 4cm wider than its standard 4-Series coupe sibling.
But there’s no mistaking these M cars with the standard 3 and 4 series. With their flared wheel arches, sculpted hood (no more power dome sadly), and gaping vents, the M3 and M4 are unmistakably performance-oriented track cars. With reshaped wing mirrors and a huge diffuser out back. The carbon fibre roof now comes as standard, and it lowers the weight and centre of gravity of both cars.
Under the hood lies BMW’s twin turbocharged 3.0L straight 6 engine, the same S58 unit found in the X3M and X4M. In “base” M3/M4 spec you get 480 horsepower and 550 Nm of torque, and 510 horsepower and 650Nm in the bumped-up competition spec.
And for the first time, the M3 and M4 competition models come with xDrive 4-wheel drive systems. But, like with the M5 and M8 models, this system can divert all the power to the rear wheels only for some tyre smoking action. Standard rear-driven M3 and M4s get a 6-speed manual option, but the competition models are only available with an 8-speed automatic.
A shame for some people, but I wouldn’t fret too much because the new gearbox, which is no longer a dual-clutch unit, allows the car to sprint to 100km/h in 4.2 and 3.9 seconds in normal and competition spec respectively. The new M3/M4 also comes with a drift analyser, which tracks and records skids and powerslides. Bit of a fad, but I suppose you get extra bragging rights.
Standard brake discs are 380mm in diameter with 6 piston brakes in the front, and 370mm discs in the rear. Buyers can also choose the paint colour of their calipers. Tick the option for carbon ceramics however, and you get 400m discs in the front with BMW M’s gold painted calipers.
Quad exhausts come as standard, and they are proper tailpipes that measure 100mm in diameter, which is bloody massive. And they come equipped with exhaust valves that allow you to cruise discreetly, or you could open the flaps and give your neighbors a rude awakening. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle, you could even opt for the M-Performance titanium exhaust, which is 7kg lighter.
In fact, there are a whole range of M-Performance parts that buyers can have fitted to their M3 and M4. A redesigned carbon front bumper and splitter, full carbon rear diffuser, a massive carbon spoiler, 20-inch rims, and even carbon side sills. All of which, is said to give the cars a slight advantage over the stock models. But really, anyone but a seasoned track driver would be hard pressed to know the difference.
The BMW M3 has always been a stellar candidate for the best daily driver. Excesses of power and torque, with the added benefit of being a bit of a sleeper. But here’s my two cents. The M3 and M4, though undoubtedly very similar underneath, are very different cars. Both may post blistering lap times round Silverstone or Sepang, but at the very core, they are daily drivable cars aimed at different types of people.
In the case of the M3, it is a four-door sedan that can carry 4 passengers in comfort. While the M4’s striking design may look the part for a coupe, I just wish the M3’s styling could be a little more subdued. But I haven’t a doubt in my mind that these will be amazing when they hit the roads. Convertible and touring models are looming on the horizon. And I’ll be waiting for the M3 Touring myself.