The BMW 3 Series has long been regarded as the benchmark compact sport saloon. Taking this already athletic vehicle to new heights is the M version, known as the BMW M3. In the Bimmer world, the letter M stands for the company’s Motorsports performance division. These fun-loving engineers tweak a given BMW model’s engine for more output, upgrade the suspension for even more agile handling and add sporty exterior and interior design elements. BMW has just introduced the fifth generation BMW M3 poised to continue the ‘M3’ success story.
|BMW M3 Saloon|
In the interests of maximising dynamic ability and ensuring excellent efficiency, weight savings of around 80 kilograms has been achieved over a comparably equipped predecessor model. This is attributed to the rigorous application of lightweight design measures. These include the increased use of lightweight materials such as carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and aluminium for a number of chassis and body components. Indeed, the BMW M3 saloon features a carbon roof for the very first time.
|Redesigned functional gills|
Viewed from the front, the BMW M3 saloon stands out most prominently with its powerful contours which lend it a powerfully expressive face. The twin-bar kidney grille features black paintwork and a M3 logo. The powerfully designed front apron incorporates large intakes, which supply cooling air to the high-performance engine and brakes. Among the other hallmark BMW M design features on display is the characteristic power dome on the bonnet, which hints at the potential of the brawny M TwinPower Turbo power unit and creates space for the intercooler.
|Unique front design|
New exterior mirrors – with their suggested twin-stalk mounts – optimise the aerodynamics of the new BMW M3 saloon. The hallmark BMW proportions of a long bonnet, long wheelbase and short front overhang are further emphasised by familiar M design elements. The redesigned M gills are integrated with Air Breathers, which team up with the Air Curtains in the front apron to help optimise the airflow around the wheel arches and therefore improve aerodynamics. The prominently flared wheel arches encase 18-inch BMW M double-spoke wheels that bear the M logo. At the rear end are high-gloss polished slanting twin exhaust tailpipes, which are framed like jewels by the sculptural rear apron with its integrated diffuser.
|New bucket seats|
The BMW M3 saloon sees the return of six-cylinder in-line power unit to the M division. The new engine sees a slight power upgrade over the previous V8 to 321 kW (431 hp), which is delivered between 5,390 and 7,000 rpm. Peak torque has been increased by roughly 40 per cent to 550 Nm, and is maintained over a very wide rev band (1,800-5,390 rpm). The standard sprint from zero to 100 km/h takes 4.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited at 250 km/h, or 280 km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package. The new power plant also boasts excellent fuel economy recorded at 8.3 l/100 km.
|Profile with flared wheel arches|
The engine’s power is transferred to the road via a standard six-speed manual gearbox with robust double-plate clutch. A seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission is also available. As well as changing gear automatically, in manual mode the transmission enables ultra-fast gear changes with no interruption in the flow of power. The integrated Launch Control function ensures optimum sprinting performance off the line, producing acceleration figures that would be out of range with the manual gearbox. The Smokey Burnout function allows the driver to indulge in a degree of rear wheel spin while the car is moving at low speeds. Stability Clutch Control opens the clutch when the car is understeering to bring it back into line.
|Twin-exhaust pipes channel the soundtrack from the in-line 6|
The BMW M3 Saloon rides on a double-joint spring strut front axle that features aluminium components, which help to reduce the overall weight of the car. Also lighter than the construction in the outgoing BMW M3 is the new five-link rear axle. The rigid connection between the rear axle subframe and the body further improves on the saloon’s directional stability. The electromechanical steering system in the new BMW M3 saloon is the critical component in the link between driver and car. It offers the gifts of direct steering feeling and precise feedback. The integrated Servotronic function electronically adjusts the level of steering assistance according to the car’s speed, providing optimum steering characteristics at all speeds. The steering offers the driver three settings as standard, which can be selected at the touch of a button. COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes allow the level of steering assistance to be adapted to suit the situation at hand and the driver’s personal tastes.
|Sporty driver oriented cockpit|
The BMW M3 saloon’s exclusive and functional interior matches the dynamic design of the exterior. The driver grips the standard M Sport leather multifunction steering wheel. A command driving position is provided by the standard bucket-style M sports seats. Like the front seats, the distinctively contoured backrests of the rear seats also offer exceptional lateral support. They are made from a lightweight composite material and can be folded in a 60:40 split. This gives the saloon a degree of variability and everyday usability. The BMW M3 saloon is available with the wide variety of driver assistance systems and mobility services introduced with ConnectedDrive. Among the highlights are a new generation of the Navigation system Professional, offering extra capability, sharper graphics and 3D elements for the map display, Driving Assistant Plus, which warns the driver of a looming collision with a pedestrian, the intelligent anti-dazzle LED High Beam Assistant, Active Protection with Attention Assistant and a further developed version of Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function. The optional Head-Up Display comes with additional, M-specific functions such as a gear display, rev counter and Optimum Shift Indicator.
From 1985 the BMW M3 has continued to be the bench mark for performance compact saloons. The new model sets the bar even higher for its rivals with its impressive performance, design and luxury adornments. The BMW M3 is the right choice for any enthusiasts looking for sports-car performance and handling from a true four-place car.