BMW M3 and M4 revealed at Detroit motor show; full details on the M4 coupe and its M3 saloon sibling
10 December 2013

The BMW M3 and M4 have been revealed at the Detroit motor show today.

The BMW M3 returns as a saloon only, and with turbocharged six-cylinder power for the very first time. The adoption of turbo power dispenses with 26 years of BMW M division tradition of using high-revving naturally aspirated engines for the M3.

The new 425bhp four-door M3 saloon will be joined from the outset of sales this year by the M4, a mechanically identical but stylistically sleeker two-door coupé previewed in lightly veiled concept car guise at the Pebble Beach concours in California in August.

UK sales for both cars are set to begin in May. The M3 will cost from £56,175 and the M4 from £56,635.

At the heart of BMW’s latest M3 and its more sporting M4 sibling is a brand-new twin-turbocharged, direct-injected  in-line six-cylinder petrol engine. The 3.0-litre unit is based around BMW’s familiar ‘N55’ engine, with an 84.0mm bore and 89.6mm stroke. But such are the changes to the aluminium block, cylinder head, induction and exhaust systems and internal architecture that BMW describes it as being all new.

BMW’s M division is talking up the engine’s patented induction process, known under the title ‘M TwinPower Turbo’. It eschews the twin-scroll principle of BMW’s regular engines for a system that uses two low-inertia turbos running a maximum 1.3bar of boost and has an innovative water-to-air intercooler system mounted atop the engine. 

Weight-saving features, such as a magnesium sump, allow the new engine to tip the scales 10kg under that of its predecessor at 205kg.

With 425bhp from 5500rpm to 7300rpm and 405lb ft of torque between 1850rpm and 5500rpm, the twin-turbo six delivers 11bhp and 110lb ft more than the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre V8 that it succeeds.

An impressive 143bhp per litre — 38bhp per litre more than its predecessor through the effects of forced induction — also gives it the highest specific output of any series-production M division engine.

With Valvetronic variable valve timing and Double Vanos continuously variable camshaft timing tech, the six-cylinder unit revs to 7600rpm — 600rpm less than the old V8.

The new straight six, codenamed ‘S55 B30’, is billed as the most powerful series-production engine to find its way into the M3. It is also the smallest-capacity engine used by M division since the discontinuation of the first-generation M3 and its naturally aspirated 2.3-litre four-cylinder powerplant, the ‘S14 B23’, in 1991.

In combination with BMW’s efforts to lighten the M3 and M4 through the use of new lightweight materials, the added reserves improve the power-to-weight ratio of the M3 by 22bhp per tonne over its four-door predecessor to 280bhp per tonne. The M4 also improves by 22bhp per tonne over the outgoing M3 coupé to 284bhp per tonne. By comparison, the latest Porsche 911 Carrera S has 283bhp per tonne.

Channelling drive to the rear wheels is a standard six-speed manual gearbox. The Getrag-produced unit has been developed from scratch and is claimed to be 12kg lighter than the outgoing unit. Among its innovations is dry-sump lubrication, a double-plate clutch to handle the added torque loading, carbon-ceramic friction linings within the synchroniser rings and a blip function on downshifts. The individual ratios are also shorter than before.

Buyers will be able to choose an optional seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (DCT), again from Getrag, with remote paddle shifters. A development of the M5’s unit, it allows the driver to choose between manual and auto modes. Further features include launch control and a so-called smoky burnout setting, which permits a degree of wheelspin at low speeds. To help improve on-the-limit handling, it also receives stability clutch control, which opens the clutches when sensors detect understeer to reduce drive and bring it back on line.

Both gearboxes receive a stop-start function, brake energy regeneration and optimum shift indicator. Official figures reveal that DCT versions have a 40kg penalty, with the DCT-equipped M3 tipping the scales at 1560kg and the M4 at 1537kg.

In a new driveline development, the new M3 and M4 adopt a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic propshaft. Constructed as a single component with no centre bearing, it is claimed to bring a 40 per cent weight saving on the previous M3’s steel driveshaft while providing a reduction in rotating masses for better driveline efficiency.

The new driveshaft is allied to hollow output shafts at the rear within the Active M differential, which uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch to provide a varying degree of lock-up.

With an official 0-62mph time of 4.3sec in standard six-speed manual guise, the new M3 and M4 are 0.5sec quicker than their predecessors. The seven-speed DCT drops the 0-62mph time to 4.1sec. Top speed is limited to 155mph, although it can be raised to 174mph as an option.

Official figures point to a combined 32.1mpg in manual guise and 34.0mpg with the DCT gearbox. This results in CO2 emissions of 204g/km for the manual and 194g/km for the DCT. The figures for previous M3 saloon and coupé were 22.7mpg and 290g/km in manual guise and 25.2mpg and 263g/km in DCT form.

The new M3 and M4 rely on the same basic high-strength steel platform as the standard 3-series and 4-series. However, they have a largely bespoke chassis, with reduced ride height and wider tracks. The front track is up by 34mm to 1579mm and the rear is 18mm wider, at 1603mm.

The suspension — a traditional MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear set-up — has also been extensively reworked. It has lightweight components and new mounting processes that are claimed to have reduced unsprung masses and significantly boosted rigidity over the outgoing M3.

Key changes include the adoption of a substantial carbonfibre strut brace, aluminium control arms and subframes up front, bringing about a 5kg reduction in weight. The rear has also been extensively revised with aluminium control arms and an axle that is bolted directly to body without the use of rubber bushings, saving 3kg.

The suspension supports standard 18-inch wheels — nine inches wide up front and 10 inches wide at the rear. They come shod with 255/40 front and 275/40 rear tyres. Buyers can also choose optional 19-inch wheels.

The new M3 and M4 have an electro-mechanical steering system with a Servotronic function that adjust the level of assistance according to speed. Developed with ZF, it also offers the driver a choice of three modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus.

Read more Detroit motor show news.

Our Verdict

BMW M3

You’d imagine that a higher roofline and four doors would hinder the M3 saloon’s capabilities compared to the M4 coupé, but you'd be wrong

Join the debate

Comments
17

11 December 2013
Self-blipping manual gearboxes make me gag. What's next? How about a manual transmission with a computerised servo that automatically moves the lever into the right slot? All you do is rest your hand on the gearknob and wait for your friends to be impressed.

haz

12 December 2013
Its a dual clutch gearbox, have you ever experienced one? They are very impressive. Its more than just a self blipping automated manual. There are 2 clutches, so the next gear is always pre engaged, for instant changes, very smooth. It gives faster changes than manual, better fuel economy, the ability for launch control, and you can do as many full blown starts as you like. A self blipping automated manual would refer to a single clutch automated manual, like the one in the old Aston Vanquish, and I agree those are terrible designs.

16 December 2013
[quote=haz]Its a dual clutch gearbox, have you ever experienced one? They are very impressive. Its more than just a self blipping automated manual. There are 2 clutches, so the next gear is always pre engaged, for instant changes, very smooth. It gives faster changes than manual, better fuel economy, the ability for launch control, and you can do as many full blown starts as you like. A self blipping automated manual would refer to a single clutch automated manual, like the one in the old Aston Vanquish, and I agree those are terrible designs.[/quote] I suspect, if you re-read, you will see that 275 is referring to the self-blipping function on the manual (ie with clutch pedal) variant of this car. This is where on a downshift, the ECU increases the engine revs to match those required by the incoming gear. It is designed for people who are unable to perform the function all on their own. One of the most satisfying things about a good manual is coming down the 'box hard on the brakes, heel-and-toeing as you go. I really hope this feature is switchable, as personally I favour a cheeky double blip.

13 January 2014
Haz - - "They are very impressive. Its more than just a self blipping automated manual. There are 2 clutches, so the next gear is always pre engaged, for instant changes, very smooth. It gives faster changes than manual, better fuel economy, the ability for launch control, and you can do as many full blown starts as you like." 1) No "feeling"; 2) No simplicity; 3) Clutch-pack wear; 4) Huge maintenance and repair costs; 5) Lower endurance and longevity. ----------------------------

11 December 2013
The M3 looks particularly good in the Jaguar Blue :p

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10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

11 December 2013
While many of your readers seem annoyed at the number of Land Rover or Jaguar stories that grace this website, which I do have a little sympathy with even as a Range Rover Sport (and Porsche) driver. However for me, with each new BMW communication, my once huge repect for the brand and company dilutes ever further. While I undestand that BMW aficinados will drule over the sports seats of either the M3 or M4, or indeed the perforamce figures, I cant help but see the huge - and I mean huge - corners that have been cut with those cars. Just look at the interior. These are £50,000+ cars, ladies and gentlemen. What you have is the same basic fascia architecture as in a £16,000 114i. The same cheap plastic button that grace the centre instrument panel. Horrible. Even if they use a different colour of plastic to put people of the scent! That may seem insignificant to some - I appreciate that. But, then there is the leather. BMW will tell you that they use the finest hides to cover their seats, but I can tell you they are not. Just sit in a Porsche Cayenne or a Range Rover Sport, and you will see for yourself where BMW cut another corner. They look quite nice, and they will handle well no doubt, but they just miss the mark. My advice? If you can - spend a little bit more and buy a Porsche or a Range Rover Sport.

11 December 2013
[quote=Kamelo]While many of your readers seem annoyed at the number of Land Rover or Jaguar stories that grace this website, which I do have a little sympathy with even as a Range Rover Sport (and Porsche) driver. However for me, with each new BMW communication, my once huge repect for the brand and company dilutes ever further. While I undestand that BMW aficinados will drule over the sports seats of either the M3 or M4, or indeed the perforamce figures, I cant help but see the huge - and I mean huge - corners that have been cut with those cars. Just look at the interior. These are £50,000+ cars, ladies and gentlemen. What you have is the same basic fascia architecture as in a £16,000 114i. The same cheap plastic button that grace the centre instrument panel. Horrible. Even if they use a different colour of plastic to put people of the scent! That may seem insignificant to some - I appreciate that. But, then there is the leather. BMW will tell you that they use the finest hides to cover their seats, but I can tell you they are not. Just sit in a Porsche Cayenne or a Range Rover Sport, and you will see for yourself where BMW cut another corner. They look quite nice, and they will handle well no doubt, but they just miss the mark. My advice? If you can - spend a little bit more and buy a Porsche or a Range Rover Sport.[/quote] You can't compare the M3 against the cayenne or the sport - they are completely different animals which have different target markets. Having just come from a range rover, I agree they are better inside - more of an atmosphere, better leather, better stereo etc than a standard 3 series. The 3 is a cut above a 1 series, however, albeit a step below the 5 and I would hope the M3 has napa leather which is up their with the range rover rather than dakota. However, people who buy the likes of an M3 will put performance and sublime rwd handling ahead of the interior ambiance and the quality of the interior. I think the cayenne is an excellent car and the new sport is truly wonderful, but they just don't compete with the M3.

13 December 2013
[quote=ewanmac76][quote=Kamelo]While many of your readers seem annoyed at the number of Land Rover or Jaguar stories that grace this website, which I do have a little sympathy with even as a Range Rover Sport (and Porsche) driver. However for me, with each new BMW communication, my once huge repect for the brand and company dilutes ever further. While I undestand that BMW aficinados will drule over the sports seats of either the M3 or M4, or indeed the perforamce figures, I cant help but see the huge - and I mean huge - corners that have been cut with those cars. Just look at the interior. These are £50,000+ cars, ladies and gentlemen. What you have is the same basic fascia architecture as in a £16,000 114i. The same cheap plastic button that grace the centre instrument panel. Horrible. Even if they use a different colour of plastic to put people of the scent! That may seem insignificant to some - I appreciate that. But, then there is the leather. BMW will tell you that they use the finest hides to cover their seats, but I can tell you they are not. Just sit in a Porsche Cayenne or a Range Rover Sport, and you will see for yourself where BMW cut another corner. They look quite nice, and they will handle well no doubt, but they just miss the mark. My advice? If you can - spend a little bit more and buy a Porsche or a Range Rover Sport.[/quote] You can't compare the M3 against the cayenne or the sport - they are completely different animals which have different target markets. Having just come from a range rover, I agree they are better inside - more of an atmosphere, better leather, better stereo etc than a standard 3 series. The 3 is a cut above a 1 series, however, albeit a step below the 5 and I would hope the M3 has napa leather which is up their with the range rover rather than dakota. However, people who buy the likes of an M3 will put performance and sublime rwd handling ahead of the interior ambiance and the quality of the interior. I think the cayenne is an excellent car and the new sport is truly wonderful, but they just don't compete with the M3.[/quote] Exactly... Thank you.

13 December 2013
[quote=Kamelo]While many of your readers seem annoyed at the number of Land Rover or Jaguar stories that grace this website, which I do have a little sympathy with even as a Range Rover Sport (and Porsche) driver. However for me, with each new BMW communication, my once huge repect for the brand and company dilutes ever further. While I undestand that BMW aficinados will drule over the sports seats of either the M3 or M4, or indeed the perforamce figures, I cant help but see the huge - and I mean huge - corners that have been cut with those cars. Just look at the interior. These are £50,000+ cars, ladies and gentlemen. What you have is the same basic fascia architecture as in a £16,000 114i. The same cheap plastic button that grace the centre instrument panel. Horrible. Even if they use a different colour of plastic to put people of the scent! That may seem insignificant to some - I appreciate that. But, then there is the leather. BMW will tell you that they use the finest hides to cover their seats, but I can tell you they are not. Just sit in a Porsche Cayenne or a Range Rover Sport, and you will see for yourself where BMW cut another corner. They look quite nice, and they will handle well no doubt, but they just miss the mark. My advice? If you can - spend a little bit more and buy a Porsche or a Range Rover Sport.[/quote] I completely understand what you mean in regard to the dilution of the M brand, but ONLY in regard to doing things they said they would NEVER do. Such as forced induction for an M car as an example. What made the M3 of the past so special was the fact that it had an INSANELY sharp engine. The RPMs would climb and fall with no delay in relation to your foot. There aren't many cars that are like this - including a Porsche (or Range Rover for that matter, but I have no idea how a Range Rover can even be presented in this category of vehicle). The throttle response of the previous M3 cars was unparalleled, there aren't many cars with 8 throttle bodies or many cars with a V8 that screams to 8400 RPM. Yes, you can find a similarly responsive engine in a $200k Ferrari, but that's the point. This is why the M3 was so special; the engineering was SO MUCH better than everything else that you could buy and still drive every single day. Talking about the interior quality is a little ridiculous, especially when you are comparing an M3 to a Range Rover Sport. You realize the Range Rover is an SUV that has no relation to a sports car, right? The Range Rover Sport is built for people that want or need a large SUV - not to go off-roading like one would think, but to drive on city streets. To me, these cars make no sense; you are carrying around a ton of extra weight, so it doesn't stop well, it doesn't turn well, it basically doesn't do what a car is supposed to do well - drive. Yeah, it looks cute, and has a nice interior - and a nice powerful Jag engine, but it's not something you can compare in terms of driving dynamics to a Porsche or an M3; they are on two separate pages... Actually, they are in two different books. Point is, no one in their right mind is going to take your suggestion of buying a Range Rover when shopping for an M3 or similar. Yes, a Porsche would make sense to cross-shop (if we aren't talking about a Cayenne or some ridiculousness), but a Range Rover SUV? You are not understanding what an M3 is about - go drive one, seriously. It's nothing like anything you have driven obviously. Even compared to a Porsche 911 (991), the engine in the current gen M3 (S65B40) is so special, I guarantee you would be shocked and have a better understanding of what people mean when they say BMW is diluting the brand. It's not because the buttons are cheap, it's because we now have an M3 coming with a turbocharged engine - meaning it will have turbo lag; it won't be able to dethrottle like it should. It's also because almost every single one of their basic sedans and SUVs can be ordered with the "M" logo - for people like you who buy things just because of the perception or interior. It's sad - it's becoming a crappy world for actual drivers in this world because of things like this.

14 December 2013
[quote=Kamelo]While many of your readers seem annoyed at the number of Land Rover or Jaguar stories that grace this website, which I do have a little sympathy with even as a Range Rover Sport (and Porsche) driver. However for me, with each new BMW communication, my once huge repect for the brand and company dilutes ever further. While I undestand that BMW aficinados will drule over the sports seats of either the M3 or M4, or indeed the perforamce figures, I cant help but see the huge - and I mean huge - corners that have been cut with those cars. Just look at the interior. These are £50,000+ cars, ladies and gentlemen. What you have is the same basic fascia architecture as in a £16,000 114i. The same cheap plastic button that grace the centre instrument panel. Horrible. Even if they use a different colour of plastic to put people of the scent! That may seem insignificant to some - I appreciate that. But, then there is the leather. BMW will tell you that they use the finest hides to cover their seats, but I can tell you they are not. Just sit in a Porsche Cayenne or a Range Rover Sport, and you will see for yourself where BMW cut another corner. They look quite nice, and they will handle well no doubt, but they just miss the mark. My advice? If you can - spend a little bit more and buy a Porsche or a Range Rover Sport.[/quote] I've yet to come across a manufacturer that completely redesigns its interiors, buttons and instruments for higher spec models, and that includes Porsche and Land Rover. The interior of a 911 Carrera 2 is identical to that of a Turbo S, using the same plastics, dashboard design etc. The leather may be of higher quality in the Turbo, but everything else is the same. And a base £38k Boxster has some identical switchgear to a £141k 911 Turbo S. As for the Range Rover Sport, the dashboard of the Sport is identical to the much more expensive Range Rover, with the latter probably only featuring better quality leather. So, does the Range Rover owner feel short changed? Especially as some of the switchgear is also identical to an Evoque. BMW offers different grades on leather on all its models, and in terms of other material quality, if you compare a Range Rover Sport to the X5 (or a 5-Series), the BMW is better, but a Cayenne trumps them both.

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