The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG will get a direct four-door saloon rival early next year in the form of BMW’s new M3 saloon. Pictured here officially for the first time, Munich’s latest performance hero retains its recently introduced coupe sibling’s mechanical package, including its raucous 414bhp 4.0-litre V8 engine, but adds the practicality of two extra doors, greater rear seat accommodation and an additional 20-litres of boot space, in a move BMW hopes will further extend the M3’s already huge appeal.
Hotter look for Three saloon
Stylistically, the saloon picks up all the characteristic M3 cues, including a deep front bumper, flared front wheelarches, a power dome bonnet, wing vents, chiselled side sills, a bootlid spoiler lip, a new rear bumper with integrated diffuser and quad chromed tailpipes. Further setting the new car apart from its lesser four-door 3-series siblings is a unique front end appearance featuring the headlamps and kidney grille treatment from the 3-series coupe. Together, they provide the M3 saloon with a sleeker look than other 3-series saloon models.
A little heavier, slower than the coupe
BMW puts the new car’s kerbweight at 1605kg – some 25kg above that of the M3 coupe. Performance remains sharp with 0-62mph in a claimed 4.9sec and an electronically governed 155mph top speed. Underneath, it’s the same as for the coupe; a MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension set within a 2761mm wheelbase and supporting 1539mm (front) and 1540mm (rear) tracks. Insiders suggest the M3 saloon will offer a slightly more compliant ride than the coupe owing to the slightly inferior ridigity of its four-door bodyshell, although the inclusion of BMW’s electronic damping control will continue to allow driver’s to choose between three different levels of stiffness.
Not the first four-door M3
This is not the first time the M3 has been offered as a saloon. Between 1994 and 1998, BMW sold a four-door version of the E36 model, of which some 1114 were in right-hand drive. BMW’s decision to revive the M3 saloon after one generation can be directly related to the popularity of AMG’s four-door C-class-based model along with the success of the Audi RS4, which is set to receive a successor in early 2009.