BMW has announced that the current generation M3 Coupe will be the company's last.
To make way for the M4 Coupe, due in 2014, BMW says it will cut the 3-series badge in favour of the 4-series. That means that both the current Coupe and Cabriolet models bearing M3 badges will be the last to go on sale. The convertible M3 will end production in September.
Here, Autocar pays tribute to the M3 Coupe and its siblings.
In 1986, it was motor racing that first persuaded BMW to prefix the name of its smallest model range with the letter ‘M’.
The first ‘E30’ M3 was built in small numbers to legitimise its appearance at circuits around the globe. The required 5000 cars needed to homologate the model flew from the shelves, helped by the popularity of the World Touring Car Championship. Each car came with radical styling - including flared wheel arches and a tall rear wing. In 1988, the Coupe was followed with a Convertible version, available exclusively in European markets.
Such was the popularity of the concept, however – high power, low mass and a small footprint on the road – that the company was forced to consider a replacement.
The E36 arrived in the UK in 1993, being powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six engine. It stayed in production until 1999 and spawned Coupe, Cabriolet and, for the first time, Saloon variants. It was the first M3 to be powerred by a straight-six engine, which was upgraded in late 1995 with the introduction of a 312bhp, 3.2-litre unit to the range. Subtle styling changes also accompanied the engine change.
Again, Convertible and Saloon versions followed the Coupe a year later.