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Bred for the track. Brilliant on the road. Here’s why BMW’s performance saloon, coupé and convertible are perfect for every journey – short or long
Autocar
News
7 mins read
1 October 2021

BMW M performance models – cars like the BMW M3 Competition Saloon, the BMW M4 Competition Coupé and the BMW M4 Competition Convertible – may be bred for the track, but the reality is they spend most of their life on the road.

However, with 510hp and 479 lb-ft of torque at your disposal from a powerful BMW M 3.0-litre straight-six TwinPower twin-turbo, all delivered through a race-tuned chassis that blends confidence-inspiring grip with refined comfort, and with a stylishly premium interior that boasts advanced navigation, infotainment and driving tech, every journey in the BMW M3 and M4 – whether it’s a trip to the shops, or a lengthy road trip – feels anything but everyday.

Learn more about the BMW M3 Competition Saloon and the BMW M4 Competition Coupé.

Style and tech that stands out

First, there’s that aggressive BMW M design, which ensures that every journey starts with a frisson of excitement, even as you walk to your car.

At the front, the large iconic BMW M frameless kidney grille and wide low-slung bumper vents sit ready to feed huge gulps of air to the hungry straight-six under the bonnet, while a lean-forward rake – with 19-inch alloys at the front and 20-inch alloys at the rear for enhanced agility, just like on the iconic BMW M4 GTS and M4 CS – lend the BMW M3 Competition Saloon and BMW M4 Competition Coupé an animalistic ready-to-pounce stance.

Those iconic BMW double-spoke alloys frame huge, powerful BMW M Compound six-piston fixed-caliper brakes (380mm at the front; 370mm at the rear), marking out the BMW M3 and M4’s potent stopping power. Finally, the muscular rear haunches and the huge swept-up rear diffuser – framing gaping 100mm diameter quad-pipe exhaust – offer the perfect lasting impression.

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In addition to the bold new colours available on the BMW M3 and M4 palette – including exclusive Sao Paulo Yellow non-metallic, and the metallic Toronto Red and Isle of Man Green – you can add an extra dose of your own personalised style with the M Carbon exterior pack, or a wealth of BMW M Performance Parts.

Designed to put you in control

Slide into the BMW M3 Competition Saloon or BMW M4 Competition Coupé, and – thanks to the hunkered down race-style driving position – you instantly feel at one with the car. The distinctive race-style red BWM M accents for key performance switches and toggles perfectly complement the wonderfully tactile fine-grain Merino leather trim.

Press the start button lightly, and the large BMW Live Cockpit Professional dashboard comes to life in a burst of digital illumination. The M Head-up Display – featuring BMW M-specific performance-focused features – floats seamlessly on the windshield glass. Cliché alert: yes, it feels exactly like you’re in Top Gun. But there’s driving substance to the high-tech style, as it puts all the essential information directly in your eyeline, letting you focus much more readily on the road ahead.

Using BMW Personal Assistant voice control and advanced Gesture Control, it’s simple to plan your journey with BMW Maps navigation, and to connect compatible smartphones with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to find the perfect musical accompaniment for your journey. If you’re a real audiophile, there’s even the option of a 16-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound Audio System. But, who needs music when you’ve got the symphonic soundtrack of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo at your disposal?

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Performance that excites from the start

Press the start button again, more firmly this time, and the straight-six orchestra under the bonnet comes to life. You’re the conductor, changing the tempo and climbing the scales from the rumbling bass of idle to the crescendo of BMW M’s iconic high-revving treble – all with a commanding squeeze of your right foot.

The S58 3.0-litre straight-six TwinPower twin-turbo has a well-established heritage as a track-bred trophy-winning powerplant in BMW’s GT3 endurance racers, but BMW’s M engineers have honed every element one step further for the road-going BMW M3 Competition Saloon and M4 Competition Coupé – offering even more impressive and adaptable power delivery at every point of the rev range.

Advanced wire-arc sprayed-iron coatings, 3D-printed cylinder heads, lightweight components and ultra-low-friction surfaces blend efficient performance and pulse-raising power, while High Precision Injection delivers fuel into the combustion chambers at up to 350 bar at peak revs. The result: faster injection, finer atomisation and a fuel-air mix that’s cleaner, more efficient and more potent. The mono-scroll M TwinPower Turbo uses a flow-optimised design to reduce pressure loss in the dual-flow intake, as well as an electronically controlled wide-open wastegate for instant response.

The result: 510hp of signature high-revving BMW power (more than any BMW M3 or M4 to date), plus a monumental 479 lb-ft of torque from just 2750rpm. BMW’s M Steptronic Sport eight-speed transmission with DriveLogic is the perfect fit for this potent performance, offering manual sequential shifts or a fully automatic mode with engine blipping assist on downshifts. Off-the-line 0-62mph sprints are despatched in as little 3.9 seconds, while ferocious mid-range punch gets you from 50-75mph in just 2.6 seconds in fourth gear.

Using BMW’s advanced M Sound Control, you can pick the perfect tone and timbre from the BMW M3 and M4’s custom-designed dual-branch exhaust – whether it’s a subdued rumble in town, a full-on roar for the A-road, or a raucous symphony of exhaust pops and bangs once you’re out on the country.

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Handling that delights; confidence that inspires

Flick the new leather-surfaced gear selector into drive, pull away and you get that instant feel of ‘first-mile’ engagement that defines all great driving machines. The BMW M3 Competition Saloon and M4 Competition Coupé build on the base BMW 3 Series and 4 Series’ acclaimed underpinnings – that long wheelbase, that low-slung centre of gravity and near 50:50 weight distribution – to take steering feel and road-handling to the next level. And, boy, does it deliver.

Every element of the BMW M3 and M4’s chassis has been strengthened and stiffened for improved torsional stiffness and more responsive handling. It provides a more rigid and stable platform for BMW’s M Adaptive suspension, which uses advanced sensors to continually monitor body movements, steering inputs and the condition of the road surface, before responding – in milliseconds – to deliver the required damping response on each wheel. The result: precise, grippy, confidence-inspiring handling that is refined in town and truly comes alive on sweeping A-roads.

Equally, BMW’s M Servotronic steering blends speed-sensitive power assistance with a variable ratio that helps the BMW M3 and M4 feel stable at motorway speeds, agile, nimble and responsive on twisty narrow roads, and incredibly easy to manoeuvre in the tight confines of busy towns and urban car parks.

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And, whether you opt for the standard-fit M sports seats or the optional race-style M Carbon bucket seats, you always feel at one with the BMW M3 Competition Saloon and BMW M4 Competition Coupé – totally connected, yet also wonderfully cossetted at the same time.

Custom-match your settings to your drive

On rear-wheel-drive BMW M3 Competition Saloon and BMW M4 Competition Coupé models, the Active M Differential offers precision power delivery across the rear axle.

And now, for the first time on the BMW M3 and M4, you have the option of M xDrive all-wheel drive. It intelligently splits power between front and rear axles to deliver the traditional BMW rear-wheel drive character you love, while adding front-axle grip when needed – providing enhanced confidence-inspiring all-wheel traction on pockmarked or slippery road surfaces.

In fact, every element of the BMW M3 and M4’s performance can be tuned to your mood and the conditions – whether it’s laid-back motorway cruising, or enjoying every sinuous curve of a twisty remote A-road.

M Mode offers Road, Sport or Track settings. But, dive deeper into the M Setup menu, and you can custom-tweak every element of power-delivery, chassis response and steering feel for spirited driving, or laid-back refinement and comfort on longer journeys. The integrated BMW M braking system with electric actuator even allows for two-stage Comfort and Sport settings for braking response that matches both your mood and the road conditions.

And, if you opt for the BMW M4 Competition Convertible, there’s the additional bonus of top-down driving ambience, with miles and miles of open sky all available at the touch of a button, thanks to an advanced soft-top electric system that takes just 18 seconds to open at speeds of up to 31mph.

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Enjoy more of the road, more of the time

Finally, the BMW M3 Competition Saloon and BMW M4 Competiton Coupé line-up also offer a wealth of advanced driver assistance technology that lends a helping hand to make driving both less stressful and safer at the same time. For example, optional advanced BMW Laserlight headlights work with High Beam Assistant give you an even clearer view of the road ahead in low-light conditions.

Standard-fit driver aids include Front Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Speed Limit Info road-sign detection to help keep you on the straight and narrow, while Driving Assistant Professional with Steering and Lane Control Assistant, as well as Active Navigation (which detects when a change of lane is required) are among the options you can add.

And, once you reach your destination, Park Distance Control and Parking Assistant with Reversing Assistant help you navigate your way round tight urban car parks, while the optional Parking Assistant Plus adds Surround View and Remote 3D View to give you a full 360-degree perspective of any hazards around you.

All that’s left to do is to step out, take one last lingering look at the stylish BMW M curves behind you and file yet another amazing journey in the memory bank marked: ‘Drive To Remember’.

Learn more about the BMW M3 Competition Saloon and the BMW M4 Competition Coupé.

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