After seeing what the new M4 will look like at Pebble Beach Aug. 15 and seeing the spy shots of the M3 sedan across the web, we’ve had just one question: what’s under the hood?
Today, BMW has shared what will be offered for the two high performance sport cars. Needless to say, if you’re an M enthusiast, you may want to take a seat. BMW will now be making the favored M3 Coupé as a sedan, which may seem crazy, but by doing so they allow for the M3 to be the overall sport version of their 3-series, rather than a league of it’s own
However, rather than having both sedan and Coupé versions of the M3, BMW decided that a continued reign of the latter wasn’t necessary. Something of greater stance needed to sound fiercer than simply being two doors rather than four. And so, the M4 was born, and is offered in a design that immediately reminds us of the 2001 first release of the earlier M3 with an E46 engine. Even the color, though called Aurum Dusk now, reminds us of the incredibly well known Phoenix Yellow seen on the 2001 E46.
Due to the immense relation to the E46 body, we began to hope, or more realistically, pray, that BMW may finally have come to their senses and dropped the Formula 1 inspired V8 to bring back some sort of improved form of the inline-six. Finally, we got what we asked for.
BMW has delivered to us a masterpiece of German engineering, a creation of pure automotive art that brings BMW to a new level of performance. The powerhouse delivered is an inline-six with M TwinPower Turbo technology that produces 430 hp and 369 ft-lbs of torque. The newly designed engine is also 25% more fuel efficient. Of course, the VALVETRONIC Technology, which assists in quick engine response and extremely high revolutions, is still applied to keep in mind that you’re not only driving a car, you’re driving a machine.
The standard transmission option is a 6-speed manual, though there is a 7-speed automatic variant with launch control option available. Both transmissions consist of a gearbox engineered to be smaller and more responsive. The crankshaft driving the transmission has been crafted with carbon to shave off even more weight by being 40% lighter than it was last year.
Counting back to the design found in 2001, and its progression during the years after, the air vents and grille are for more than just looks. Side vents reduce drag at high speeds and the grille allows cooling air to pass to the radiator, as well as the other mechanical parts and engine components. But the primary source of cooling assist is the indirect intercooler, which helps out the turbochargers in cooling the mechanical properties inside.
The boys over at BMW wouldn’t stop at just improved engineering under the hood; they understood that even with more power, they’d need more to be the best. Simply a smaller, lighter, more efficient engine wouldn’t make the cut for making their new line of Ms the best performance vehicles available to the public. So, BMW’s M engineers brought their research to the next level, and even brought over some lightweight materials from the i-Series. The result brought the weights of both the M3 and M4 to under 3,300 lbs, or so it’s been estimated.
Both cars, the sedan included, were built for the track, as all M-Series vehicles should be. In order to improve the Nürburgring track time on both cars, they rebuilt the cars from ground up. To start, they not only improved their new baby M’s performance with mechanical innovation, they also supplied the cars with forged, lightweight sport rims. These rims contribute a great deal to the sharp handling performance of the cars, while improving efficiency. But as far as the steering of the vehicles goes, they were only getting started.
As any enthusiast who’s driven an M3 will know, the turning and control of the BMW’s M-series is pristine. It takes the track abilities that push a driver for that better lap time with confidence, and then brings those abilities and that confidence to the street. The M team selected spring coil over double jointed technology and rebuilt it from aluminum, along with the vehicles control arms. The result is an adjustable active suspension that creates even better, even sharper precision steering dynamics, improving the already fantastic maneuvering capabilities even further.
Of course, an active suspension needs some sort of platform to run on. BMW has the M Dynamic Mode to compliment their Dynamic Traction Control (DTC). This M Dynamic Mode is created with BMW’s Active M Differential, which allows for the DTC to go beyond just the suspension in order to correct steering flaws on corners. At the head of all of this technology is a track-demanding electric power steering system that offers maximum levels of control to the driver. The electric power steering receives its own touch from the M team with three separate modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes.
They’ve created the ultimate driving experience.
The body, while similar to the old style, is nothing like the M3 ever saw. It is filled with carbon composites and a CFRP roof is equipped on both vehicles. Not only does this provide lower weight, it also lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, and so contributes to the 50/50 weight ratio. The entire body is aerodynamically crafted with vents, curves and a down-force producing tale made to handle high speeds with little turbulence.
After years of hoping to see the M3 of our dreams, we finally see that BMW had us wait for something better than imagined. They ran through the entire car and created a whole new machine from their M department. The result is not only pleasing the eye, and not only pleasing the enthusiast, but astonishing to consumers as a whole, giving them exactly what BMW was aiming for when they created the original M3. They’ve created the ultimate driving experience.