It’s finally here. After years of waiting, we can finally reveal the all-new BMW M3, the V8-powered super-coupe that is expected to set a new benchmark, just as its predecessors have done over the past 21 years.And if the new M3’s muscle-bound looks don’t suggest that this fearsome four-seater will set new standards – though we think you’ll agree that it looks pretty sensational - its specification certainly does.
Wider, longer, heavier…
Spot a new M3 in your rear-view mirror and you’ll want to move out of the way, quickly. Bespoke bodyparts mean that this new coupe has bagfuls of presence.The wide bumper is stacked with huge vents to feed air to the new 4.0-litre V8, which only fits in thanks to an aggressive bulge in the vented bonnet.The front and rear wings are widened to fit the 1538/1539mm tracks, and the roof, like that of big brother M6, is made from carbonfibre, helping to shave weight and lower the car’s centre of gravity. Extravagant aero-styled door mirrors are another clue that this is no 335.A longer 2761mm wheelbase (up from 2725mm) should liberate room in the back – this is a proper four-seater.The new M3’s bigger dimensions inevitably mean that it’s gained weight, coming in at 1585kg next to the old M3’s 1577kg. But when you consider that this car has an extra two cylinders, you’ll realise that keeping the weight gain to just 8kg is one heck of an achievement. We’ve put on more weight from a week of eating pies.
There was, of course, no way that BMW’s M-Division would allow its latest super-coupe to be slower than the last one. And, as with any M-car, the engine is very much the heart and soul of the M3.Gone is the old car’s sonorous six-pot, replaced with a snarling high-revving V8 (haven’t heard it yet? Click here to listen).This highly sophisticated 3999cc motor shares many parts with the M5’s 500bhp V10, including its 90-degree cylinder bank angle. Amazingly, it’s a whole 15kg lighter than the old 3.2-litre straight six, and also 76bhp more powerful.Maximum power is an Audi RS4-rivalling 414bhp at 8300rpm; torque is 295lb ft at 3900rpm.That gives the M3 a power-to-weight ratio of 261bhp per tonne, and a torque-to-weight figure of 186lb ft per tonne. Top speed is limited to 155mph, and BMW says the M3 will hit 62mph from standstill in 4.8sec; we’ve no reason to doubt that.
Stick shift, trick diff, clever dampers
Unlike its V10-engined siblings, the M3 sticks with a six-speed manual ’box, though BMW is working on a dual-clutch gearbox like that used by VW and Audi.Naturally there’s the all-important M-differential on the back axle. This one’s an improved hydraulically activated version, which can provide 100 per cent lock-up to either rear wheel if required.For the first time, the M3 gets electronically controllable dampers, offering three settings from rock hard to simply stiff.Even if the ride is firm on the standard 18-inch wheels –we’ll have to wait until autumn to find out –the cabin should be comfy. This is no stripped-down racer, with leather, air-con and all the usual 3-series luxuries on offer. As a nod to the M3’s racing intent, however, there’s lots of carbonfibre-style trim inside.And how much will Munich’s latest masterpiece cost? BMW has yet to say, but we reckon it should come in at around £46,000 when it goes on sale in the UK in November. Seems like a long time still to wait.