BMW has announced that the current M3 Coupe will be its last
The M3 Coupe will be the last of its kind, but carries a proud M3 heritage
The M3 Coupe must move over to make way for the M4
The M4 is due on sale next year
The first M3 was based on the 1986 model year E30 series
It was named the M after being developed by BMW's motorsport division
Critics loved its excellent handling and performance combined with everyday practicality
The E30 M initially had a 2.3-litre engine producing 195bhp, but this later increased to 240bhp
The success of the original convinced BMW to revive the concept for the E36
BMW also introduced an 'Evo' version of the E36 with a 3.2-litre, 321bhp engine
In 2000 the E46 M3 arrived with a 3.2-litre, 343bhp engine under the bonnet
Performance was improved by advanced suspension and electronic driver aids
BMW claim the new M3 GTS is the ultimate track day car
The GTS is the fastest M3 ever
The M3 spawned some intuitive concepts over the years
The modern M3 established a reputation as one of the finest drivers cars on the market
...and it's a long-held reputation, too
More race-focussed versions of the M3 have helped remind owners of its motorsport heritage
Generally the convertible version followed the release of the Coupe a year later
The convertible will stop production in September
The M3 GTS was powered by a 4.4-litre V8
The M3 has become a favourite for performance motoring
And the end of the road, the last M3 Coupe gets its badge
The last M3 Coupe gets its badge
The car must make way for the 2014 M4
The convertible M3 will also stop production in September
Plenty of used models will keep the second hand market vibrant
It's safe to say the M3 Coupe has earned its place in the history books
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.
Another followed in 2001, the E46, and with it came more of the spoorting edge that had been lacking in earlier models. The same 3.2-litre straight six from the previous generation was carried over, but re-tuned to put out 325bhp. Top speed was electronically limited to 155mph, while 0-60 times fell to sub-five seconds. This generation of M3 was the first to use an electronic throttle as opposed to previous generations which used cables.
Three special versions of the E46 were produced, the M3 CS, the M3 CSL and the M3 GTR V8.
Today’s M3 coupe was launched in 2008 and gave the range a significant overhaul in terms of styling. This generation lost many of the straight edges and harsh lines of the previous model, choosing instead to use a much softer appearance. It also caused a bone of contention with M3 purists, who disliked the move to a V8 engine.
In the beginning it would have been difficult to see that the M3 would be such a sales success for BMW. Those with long memories will recall that the 1993 M3, the successor to the great original, was lambasted for being too soft and in possession of poor steering.
Although some may consider the current model to be too anodyne to do justice to the most famous single-consonant, single-digit car name in the world, it would be hard to suggest that the M3 has earned a truly legendary status in car culture.
Farewell, then, to the BMW M3 Coupe.