A brief history of the BMW M3
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BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Classic

A brief history of the BMW M3

Time to look back on M Division's classic moniker

  • In the spring of 1985, something cataclysmic was causing BMW's M Division engineers sleepless nights. Something huge. Something so immense, it was impeding development of one of the finest drivers' cars ever.

    What was this biblically terminal problem that could have ended the M3 as we know it? At full chat around the Nürburgring during trials, the gases running through the exhaust system were so hot, it was expanding the high-performance system... by a whopping 25 millimetres.

    "Mein Gott, ist die Welt zu Ende gehen", they must have shrieked. Luckily, they engineered an ingenious solution. A new set of washers. This gave the exhaust system a little more play, and subsequently allowed the engineers unimpeded travel around the north loop to complete their tuning of this, the very first 3-Series to wear an M badge: the BMW M3.

    You know how the story goes. Forged from the fires of Mount Motorsport and built to tackle the world of touring cars (and thus, needing at least 5,000 production models built in the space of twelveconsecutive months). It came about when former BMW CEO Eberhard Kuenheim said at the time, as an aside: "We need a sporty engine for the 3 Series".

    And thus, the seeds of the ‘M3' were sown. First came the E30, then E36, then E46, and finally E92. Why finally? Because at the tail end of 2012, BMW announced the 3-Series Coupe would be no more, and taking its place would be the new 4-Series Coupe. Thus, the M3 Coupe would cease to exist. This clearly resonated with you lot, because when we showed you a picture of the very last one being built on the production line, our rusty manifold of internet nearly fell off.

    Fear not though, because we have salvation. We've compiled lots of pictures of the M3 in all its coupe guises, from E30, through E36 and E46, right up to the V8-powered E92 M3 and the new hot shots, the M3 saloon and M4 coupe, for your delectation. All that we ask is you nominate your favourite M-Power 3-Series and one good, intelligible reason for it being the best M3. Personal experience? Engine performance? On-track prowess? Anything. Just so long as its intelligible and uncapitalised.

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  • BMW M3 Coupe: E30

    Once Kuenheim had requested a high performance 3-Series from the chaps at M, work began immediately, using a four-cylinder block that dates all the way back to 1962, and a modified cylinder head from the M1 supercar (minus two cylinders, of course). After those trials at the ‘Ring, some more testing, and the introduction of the S14 engine, the production E30 M3 was displayed for the first time at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show, and let loose for public consumption in 1986.

    Those flared arches. That rear wing. The new chassis setup with better axle kinematics, damping and braking performance. A svelte 1200kg bodyweight. A 2.3-litre four-pot engine producing 200bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. Rear-wheel-drive. Suffice to say, BMW had stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park, so we won't repeat the eulogies.

    But, in race trim, that engine was good for 300bhp, and M3s tore the 1987 WTCC a new one, with Roberto Ravaglia and hisBMW-backed Schnitzer team taking the top spot. The M3 went on to win the German touring car championship, and took national titles in France, England and Italy. It also won at the Nürburgring in 1989. And then 1990. And 1991. And 1992.

    Two road-going special editions were released: the ‘Evo', with a 220bhp engine, and the ‘Sport Evo', with a 238bhp 2.5-litre four-pot and a two-tier rear wing.

    They only needed to make 5,000 to go racing. By the end of 1991, BMW had sold 17,970 M3s.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E30

    Once Kuenheim had requested a high performance 3-Series from the chaps at M, work began immediately, using a four-cylinder block that dates all the way back to 1962, and a modified cylinder head from the M1 supercar (minus two cylinders, of course). After those trials at the ‘Ring, some more testing, and the introduction of the S14 engine, the production E30 M3 was displayed for the first time at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show, and let loose for public consumption in 1986.

    Those flared arches. That rear wing. The new chassis setup with better axle kinematics, damping and braking performance. A svelte 1200kg bodyweight. A 2.3-litre four-pot engine producing 200bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. Rear-wheel-drive. Suffice to say, BMW had stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park, so we won't repeat the eulogies.

    But, in race trim, that engine was good for 300bhp, and M3s tore the 1987 WTCC a new one, with Roberto Ravaglia and hisBMW-backed Schnitzer team taking the top spot. The M3 went on to win the German touring car championship, and took national titles in France, England and Italy. It also won at the Nürburgring in 1989. And then 1990. And 1991. And 1992.

    Two road-going special editions were released: the ‘Evo', with a 220bhp engine, and the ‘Sport Evo', with a 238bhp 2.5-litre four-pot and a two-tier rear wing.

    They only needed to make 5,000 to go racing. By the end of 1991, BMW had sold 17,970 M3s.

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  • BMW M3 Coupe: E30

    Once Kuenheim had requested a high performance 3-Series from the chaps at M, work began immediately, using a four-cylinder block that dates all the way back to 1962, and a modified cylinder head from the M1 supercar (minus two cylinders, of course). After those trials at the ‘Ring, some more testing, and the introduction of the S14 engine, the production E30 M3 was displayed for the first time at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show, and let loose for public consumption in 1986.

    Those flared arches. That rear wing. The new chassis setup with better axle kinematics, damping and braking performance. A svelte 1200kg bodyweight. A 2.3-litre four-pot engine producing 200bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. Rear-wheel-drive. Suffice to say, BMW had stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park, so we won't repeat the eulogies.

    But, in race trim, that engine was good for 300bhp, and M3s tore the 1987 WTCC a new one, with Roberto Ravaglia and hisBMW-backed Schnitzer team taking the top spot. The M3 went on to win the German touring car championship, and took national titles in France, England and Italy. It also won at the Nürburgring in 1989. And then 1990. And 1991. And 1992.

    Two road-going special editions were released: the ‘Evo', with a 220bhp engine, and the ‘Sport Evo', with a 238bhp 2.5-litre four-pot and a two-tier rear wing.

    They only needed to make 5,000 to go racing. By the end of 1991, BMW had sold 17,970 M3s.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E30

    Once Kuenheim had requested a high performance 3-Series from the chaps at M, work began immediately, using a four-cylinder block that dates all the way back to 1962, and a modified cylinder head from the M1 supercar (minus two cylinders, of course). After those trials at the ‘Ring, some more testing, and the introduction of the S14 engine, the production E30 M3 was displayed for the first time at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show, and let loose for public consumption in 1986.

    Those flared arches. That rear wing. The new chassis setup with better axle kinematics, damping and braking performance. A svelte 1200kg bodyweight. A 2.3-litre four-pot engine producing 200bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. Rear-wheel-drive. Suffice to say, BMW had stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park, so we won't repeat the eulogies.

    But, in race trim, that engine was good for 300bhp, and M3s tore the 1987 WTCC a new one, with Roberto Ravaglia and hisBMW-backed Schnitzer team taking the top spot. The M3 went on to win the German touring car championship, and took national titles in France, England and Italy. It also won at the Nürburgring in 1989. And then 1990. And 1991. And 1992.

    Two road-going special editions were released: the ‘Evo', with a 220bhp engine, and the ‘Sport Evo', with a 238bhp 2.5-litre four-pot and a two-tier rear wing.

    They only needed to make 5,000 to go racing. By the end of 1991, BMW had sold 17,970 M3s.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E36

    BMW itself conceded that this new M3 marked "the end of an era for uncompromising sports cars". Out went the four-pot, and in came a big, 3.0-litre straight-six engine developing 286bhp. At the time, no other naturally aspirated engine had such a high specific output - 96bhp per litre. As a result, it could accelerate from 0-62mph in six seconds, and run on to a (limited) top speed of 155mph.

    It used the rear axle from the BMW Z1, tauter dampers and anti-roll bars, a drop in ride height over the standard 3-Series Coupe (31mm), and the same exhaustive Nürburgring testing as its predecessor. Oh, and those rather delightful mirrors so appealing to the tea-leaf fraternity.

    Saloon and convertible models appeared a few years later - along with a special M3 ‘GT' edition packing 295bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds - but it wasn't until 1995 that the upgraded E36 M3 landed. The engine was now a 3.2-litre straight six, producing 321bhp and offering up a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds, and a 50mph-75mph time of just 5.7 seconds in fourth gear. Talk about elastic.

    The sequential M gearbox - a first on a BMW M car - might not have been the greatest on earth, but buyers flocked to it. Apparently, every second M3 sold had the ‘SMG' gearbox, and in total, 71,242 E36 generation M3s were built, in all three guises.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E36

    BMW itself conceded that this new M3 marked "the end of an era for uncompromising sports cars". Out went the four-pot, and in came a big, 3.0-litre straight-six engine developing 286bhp. At the time, no other naturally aspirated engine had such a high specific output - 96bhp per litre. As a result, it could accelerate from 0-62mph in six seconds, and run on to a (limited) top speed of 155mph.

    It used the rear axle from the BMW Z1, tauter dampers and anti-roll bars, a drop in ride height over the standard 3-Series Coupe (31mm), and the same exhaustive Nürburgring testing as its predecessor. Oh, and those rather delightful mirrors so appealing to the tea-leaf fraternity.

    Saloon and convertible models appeared a few years later - along with a special M3 ‘GT' edition packing 295bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds - but it wasn't until 1995 that the upgraded E36 M3 landed. The engine was now a 3.2-litre straight six, producing 321bhp and offering up a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds, and a 50mph-75mph time of just 5.7 seconds in fourth gear. Talk about elastic.

    The sequential M gearbox - a first on a BMW M car - might not have been the greatest on earth, but buyers flocked to it. Apparently, every second M3 sold had the ‘SMG' gearbox, and in total, 71,242 E36 generation M3s were built, in all three guises.

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  • BMW M3 Coupe: E36

    BMW itself conceded that this new M3 marked "the end of an era for uncompromising sports cars". Out went the four-pot, and in came a big, 3.0-litre straight-six engine developing 286bhp. At the time, no other naturally aspirated engine had such a high specific output - 96bhp per litre. As a result, it could accelerate from 0-62mph in six seconds, and run on to a (limited) top speed of 155mph.

    It used the rear axle from the BMW Z1, tauter dampers and anti-roll bars, a drop in ride height over the standard 3-Series Coupe (31mm), and the same exhaustive Nürburgring testing as its predecessor. Oh, and those rather delightful mirrors so appealing to the tea-leaf fraternity.

    Saloon and convertible models appeared a few years later - along with a special M3 ‘GT' edition packing 295bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds - but it wasn't until 1995 that the upgraded E36 M3 landed. The engine was now a 3.2-litre straight six, producing 321bhp and offering up a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds, and a 50mph-75mph time of just 5.7 seconds in fourth gear. Talk about elastic.

    The sequential M gearbox - a first on a BMW M car - might not have been the greatest on earth, but buyers flocked to it. Apparently, every second M3 sold had the ‘SMG' gearbox, and in total, 71,242 E36 generation M3s were built, in all three guises.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E36

    BMW itself conceded that this new M3 marked "the end of an era for uncompromising sports cars". Out went the four-pot, and in came a big, 3.0-litre straight-six engine developing 286bhp. At the time, no other naturally aspirated engine had such a high specific output - 96bhp per litre. As a result, it could accelerate from 0-62mph in six seconds, and run on to a (limited) top speed of 155mph.

    It used the rear axle from the BMW Z1, tauter dampers and anti-roll bars, a drop in ride height over the standard 3-Series Coupe (31mm), and the same exhaustive Nürburgring testing as its predecessor. Oh, and those rather delightful mirrors so appealing to the tea-leaf fraternity.

    Saloon and convertible models appeared a few years later - along with a special M3 ‘GT' edition packing 295bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds - but it wasn't until 1995 that the upgraded E36 M3 landed. The engine was now a 3.2-litre straight six, producing 321bhp and offering up a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds, and a 50mph-75mph time of just 5.7 seconds in fourth gear. Talk about elastic.

    The sequential M gearbox - a first on a BMW M car - might not have been the greatest on earth, but buyers flocked to it. Apparently, every second M3 sold had the ‘SMG' gearbox, and in total, 71,242 E36 generation M3s were built, in all three guises.

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  • BMW M3 Coupe: E46

    Where some felt the E36 a bit lacking in the hard-edged enthusiasm of the original E30, most agreed that the E46 M3 was a screamer. It arrived in 2000, distinctive for its wider, flared arches, that lovely power dome on the bonnet, the air intakes on the wings, and of course, the four exhaust pipes jutting out of the rear. Make no mistake, this was M back to its best.

    Especially with the engine. It was still a 3.2-litre six-pot, but power now sat at 343bhp at 7,900 rpm, yielding 105bhp per litre. There was double VANOS valve timing, with an ECU capable of 25 million calculations per second, vastly superior to our finger-counting Top Gear Maths. But not by much. As such, 0-62mph took just 5.2 seconds (and 5.4s from 50-75mph in fourth gear), with a limited top speed of 155mph.

    A racing version of this M3 appeared across the pond, and made history as the first ever M3 to sport a V8 - the M3 GTR. Built for the 2001 American Le Mans Series, it produced 450bhp from its 4.0-litre V8, and took seven wins in 10 races (along with six pole positions). Suffice to say, BMW works driver Jörg Müller won the Drivers' Championship in the GT class.

    Then of course, we get to 2003, and the car that showcased BMW M's collective nous - the M3 CSL. 110kg of Stuff was shed from the standard M3 (which meant it weighed 1385kg), using carbon-fibre reinforced plastic, thinner glass and glass-reinforced plastics taken from the aerospace industry. The engine too was more powerful, some 360bhp, meaning the 0-62mph time dropped to 4.9 seconds.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E46

    Where some felt the E36 a bit lacking in the hard-edged enthusiasm of the original E30, most agreed that the E46 M3 was a screamer. It arrived in 2000, distinctive for its wider, flared arches, that lovely power dome on the bonnet, the air intakes on the wings, and of course, the four exhaust pipes jutting out of the rear. Make no mistake, this was M back to its best.

    Especially with the engine. It was still a 3.2-litre six-pot, but power now sat at 343bhp at 7,900 rpm, yielding 105bhp per litre. There was double VANOS valve timing, with an ECU capable of 25 million calculations per second, vastly superior to our finger-counting Top Gear Maths. But not by much. As such, 0-62mph took just 5.2 seconds (and 5.4s from 50-75mph in fourth gear), with a limited top speed of 155mph.

    A racing version of this M3 appeared across the pond, and made history as the first ever M3 to sport a V8 - the M3 GTR. Built for the 2001 American Le Mans Series, it produced 450bhp from its 4.0-litre V8, and took seven wins in 10 races (along with six pole positions). Suffice to say, BMW works driver Jörg Müller won the Drivers' Championship in the GT class.

    Then of course, we get to 2003, and the car that showcased BMW M's collective nous - the M3 CSL. 110kg of Stuff was shed from the standard M3 (which meant it weighed 1385kg), using carbon-fibre reinforced plastic, thinner glass and glass-reinforced plastics taken from the aerospace industry. The engine too was more powerful, some 360bhp, meaning the 0-62mph time dropped to 4.9 seconds.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E46

    Where some felt the E36 a bit lacking in the hard-edged enthusiasm of the original E30, most agreed that the E46 M3 was a screamer. It arrived in 2000, distinctive for its wider, flared arches, that lovely power dome on the bonnet, the air intakes on the wings, and of course, the four exhaust pipes jutting out of the rear. Make no mistake, this was M back to its best.

    Especially with the engine. It was still a 3.2-litre six-pot, but power now sat at 343bhp at 7,900 rpm, yielding 105bhp per litre. There was double VANOS valve timing, with an ECU capable of 25 million calculations per second, vastly superior to our finger-counting Top Gear Maths. But not by much. As such, 0-62mph took just 5.2 seconds (and 5.4s from 50-75mph in fourth gear), with a limited top speed of 155mph.

    A racing version of this M3 appeared across the pond, and made history as the first ever M3 to sport a V8 - the M3 GTR. Built for the 2001 American Le Mans Series, it produced 450bhp from its 4.0-litre V8, and took seven wins in 10 races (along with six pole positions). Suffice to say, BMW works driver Jörg Müller won the Drivers' Championship in the GT class.

    Then of course, we get to 2003, and the car that showcased BMW M's collective nous - the M3 CSL. 110kg of Stuff was shed from the standard M3 (which meant it weighed 1385kg), using carbon-fibre reinforced plastic, thinner glass and glass-reinforced plastics taken from the aerospace industry. The engine too was more powerful, some 360bhp, meaning the 0-62mph time dropped to 4.9 seconds.

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E92

    A V8? In a production M3? Yes, and yes. Here was the final M3 Coupe, sporting a 4.0-litre eight-cylinder engine producing 420bhp and 295lb ft of torque, enabling a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds. It also revved to 8,400rpm and shrieked noises that could make a grown man weep.

    OK, so it's only one-tenth of a second quicker to 62mph than the old CSL, but that's because - despite BMW's talk of a lightweight chassis - this new V8 was a bit of a porker, weighing in at 1655kg. Still, it did have a cool carbon fibre roof, and the chassis was a fine thing. A double-strut setup up front, with a five-link rear axle, all-round vented discs, a variable M differential and many driver aids.

    A few special editions popped up in this E92 guise too: there was the M3 DTM Champion Edition, limited to just 54 models (one for each of BMW's DTM race victories), the really rather lovely M3 GT2 Art Car created by Jeff Koons, and of course, the bewinged, bombastic and lightly brutal 450bhp M3 GTS. When we got our fists of ham around it, we found that BMW had well and truly tangoed the M3. In a good way, of course. At last count, BMW rolled out more than 40,000 E92 V8 Coupes; a far cry from the 17k of the original.

    Naturally, all good things come to an end, and this bright orange coupe is the very last two-door 3-Series to be badged ‘M3'. Because the new M3 is only be a saloon, and the coupe is now called the 'M4'...

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E92

    A V8? In a production M3? Yes, and yes. Here was the final M3 Coupe, sporting a 4.0-litre eight-cylinder engine producing 420bhp and 295lb ft of torque, enabling a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds. It also revved to 8,400rpm and shrieked noises that could make a grown man weep.

    OK, so it's only one-tenth of a second quicker to 62mph than the old CSL, but that's because - despite BMW's talk of a lightweight chassis - this new V8 was a bit of a porker, weighing in at 1655kg. Still, it did have a cool carbon fibre roof, and the chassis was a fine thing. A double-strut setup up front, with a five-link rear axle, all-round vented discs, a variable M differential and many driver aids.

    A few special editions popped up in this E92 guise too: there was the M3 DTM Champion Edition, limited to just 54 models (one for each of BMW's DTM race victories), the really rather lovely M3 GT2 Art Car created by Jeff Koons, and of course, the bewinged, bombastic and lightly brutal 450bhp M3 GTS. When we got our fists of ham around it, we found that BMW had well and truly tangoed the M3. In a good way, of course. At last count, BMW rolled out more than 40,000 E92 V8 Coupes; a far cry from the 17k of the original.

    Naturally, all good things come to an end, and this bright orange coupe is the very last two-door 3-Series to be badged ‘M3'. Because the new M3 is only be a saloon, and the coupe is now called the 'M4'...

  • BMW M3 Coupe: E92

    A V8? In a production M3? Yes, and yes. Here was the final M3 Coupe, sporting a 4.0-litre eight-cylinder engine producing 420bhp and 295lb ft of torque, enabling a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds. It also revved to 8,400rpm and shrieked noises that could make a grown man weep.

    OK, so it's only one-tenth of a second quicker to 62mph than the old CSL, but that's because - despite BMW's talk of a lightweight chassis - this new V8 was a bit of a porker, weighing in at 1655kg. Still, it did have a cool carbon fibre roof, and the chassis was a fine thing. A double-strut setup up front, with a five-link rear axle, all-round vented discs, a variable M differential and many driver aids.

    A few special editions popped up in this E92 guise too: there was the M3 DTM Champion Edition, limited to just 54 models (one for each of BMW's DTM race victories), the really rather lovely M3 GT2 Art Car created by Jeff Koons, and of course, the bewinged, bombastic and lightly brutal 450bhp M3 GTS. When we got our fists of ham around it, we found that BMW had well and truly tangoed the M3. In a good way, of course. At last count, BMW rolled out more than 40,000 E92 V8 Coupes; a far cry from the 17k of the original.

    Naturally, all good things come to an end, and this bright orange coupe is the very last two-door 3-Series to be badged ‘M3'. Because the new M3 is only be a saloon, and the coupe is now called the 'M4'...

  • BMW M3 Saloon/M4 Coupe: F80/F82

    BMW ditched the E numbers for this new generation of M car - and indeed an iconic moniker too, because the M3 Coupe is no more. It's simple, really: the M3 badge will remain only on the saloon, while the M4 Coupe is the new, um, M3 Coupe. Geddit?

    As well as dropping the E numbers, BMW also dropped quite a bit of the weight of the new M3/M4, too. Where the outgoing BMW M3 Coupe tipped the scales at a heady 1655kg, the new M4 is a comparatively featherweight 1500kg. OK, so the new M4 Convertible piles on at a significant 1750kg, but even that is 60kg lighter than the old M3 Convertible.

    And out goes the V8 too, ushering in a revamped version of BMW's tried, tested and thrashed 3.0-litre twin-turbo 6cyl. That's right, the M3/M4 has been reunited with a straight-six engine, and it's a torque filled monster.

    Absolute power rises a bit to 431bhp (up from 414bhp), but it's the torques that have really taken a leap. The old V8 made 295lb ft. This new car makes a whopping 406lb ft, and as such will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.3s (or 4.1s with the optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox).

    There is lots of carbon fibre. There's quite a lot of ‘face' and styling - much of it functional aero to aid downforce and handling - and there's even a ‘Smokey Burnout' function.

    And not forgetting the new Competition Pack, which adds 19bhp, shedding 0.1 of a second from the 0-62mph times. There’s a new exhaust, too, plus new tyres, a recalibrated diff and some new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.

    The new M3 and M4 then, are hooligans.

  • BMW M3 Saloon/M4 Coupe: F80/F82

    BMW ditched the E numbers for this new generation of M car - and indeed an iconic moniker too, because the M3 Coupe is no more. It's simple, really: the M3 badge will remain only on the saloon, while the M4 Coupe is the new, um, M3 Coupe. Geddit?

    As well as dropping the E numbers, BMW also dropped quite a bit of the weight of the new M3/M4, too. Where the outgoing BMW M3 Coupe tipped the scales at a heady 1655kg, the new M4 is a comparatively featherweight 1500kg. OK, so the new M4 Convertible piles on at a significant 1750kg, but even that is 60kg lighter than the old M3 Convertible.

    And out goes the V8 too, ushering in a revamped version of BMW's tried, tested and thrashed 3.0-litre twin-turbo 6cyl. That's right, the M3/M4 has been reunited with a straight-six engine, and it's a torque filled monster.

    Absolute power rises a bit to 431bhp (up from 414bhp), but it's the torques that have really taken a leap. The old V8 made 295lb ft. This new car makes a whopping 406lb ft, and as such will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.3s (or 4.1s with the optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox).

    There is lots of carbon fibre. There's quite a lot of ‘face' and styling - much of it functional aero to aid downforce and handling - and there's even a ‘Smokey Burnout' function.

    And not forgetting the new Competition Pack, which adds 19bhp, shedding 0.1 of a second from the 0-62mph times. There’s a new exhaust, too, plus new tyres, a recalibrated diff and some new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.

    The new M3 and M4 then, are hooligans.

  • BMW M3 Saloon/M4 Coupe: F80/F82

    BMW ditched the E numbers for this new generation of M car - and indeed an iconic moniker too, because the M3 Coupe is no more. It's simple, really: the M3 badge will remain only on the saloon, while the M4 Coupe is the new, um, M3 Coupe. Geddit?

    As well as dropping the E numbers, BMW also dropped quite a bit of the weight of the new M3/M4, too. Where the outgoing BMW M3 Coupe tipped the scales at a heady 1655kg, the new M4 is a comparatively featherweight 1500kg. OK, so the new M4 Convertible piles on at a significant 1750kg, but even that is 60kg lighter than the old M3 Convertible.

    And out goes the V8 too, ushering in a revamped version of BMW's tried, tested and thrashed 3.0-litre twin-turbo 6cyl. That's right, the M3/M4 has been reunited with a straight-six engine, and it's a torque filled monster.

    Absolute power rises a bit to 431bhp (up from 414bhp), but it's the torques that have really taken a leap. The old V8 made 295lb ft. This new car makes a whopping 406lb ft, and as such will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.3s (or 4.1s with the optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox).

    There is lots of carbon fibre. There's quite a lot of ‘face' and styling - much of it functional aero to aid downforce and handling - and there's even a ‘Smokey Burnout' function.

    And not forgetting the new Competition Pack, which adds 19bhp, shedding 0.1 of a second from the 0-62mph times. There’s a new exhaust, too, plus new tyres, a recalibrated diff and some new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.

    The new M3 and M4 then, are hooligans.

  • BMW M3 Saloon/M4 Coupe: F80/F82

    BMW ditched the E numbers for this new generation of M car - and indeed an iconic moniker too, because the M3 Coupe is no more. It's simple, really: the M3 badge will remain only on the saloon, while the M4 Coupe is the new, um, M3 Coupe. Geddit?

    As well as dropping the E numbers, BMW also dropped quite a bit of the weight of the new M3/M4, too. Where the outgoing BMW M3 Coupe tipped the scales at a heady 1655kg, the new M4 is a comparatively featherweight 1500kg. OK, so the new M4 Convertible piles on at a significant 1750kg, but even that is 60kg lighter than the old M3 Convertible.

    And out goes the V8 too, ushering in a revamped version of BMW's tried, tested and thrashed 3.0-litre twin-turbo 6cyl. That's right, the M3/M4 has been reunited with a straight-six engine, and it's a torque filled monster.

    Absolute power rises a bit to 431bhp (up from 414bhp), but it's the torques that have really taken a leap. The old V8 made 295lb ft. This new car makes a whopping 406lb ft, and as such will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.3s (or 4.1s with the optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox).

    There is lots of carbon fibre. There's quite a lot of ‘face' and styling - much of it functional aero to aid downforce and handling - and there's even a ‘Smokey Burnout' function.

    And not forgetting the new Competition Pack, which adds 19bhp, shedding 0.1 of a second from the 0-62mph times. There’s a new exhaust, too, plus new tyres, a recalibrated diff and some new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.

    The new M3 and M4 then, are hooligans.

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