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BMW M3

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About BMW M3

he BMW 3 Series has long been regarded as the benchmark compact sport coupe. Taking this already athletic vehicle to new heights is the M version, known as the BMW M3. In the Bimmer world, the letter M stands for the company's Motorsports performance division. These fun-loving engineers tweak a given BMW model's engine for more output, upgrade the suspension for even more agile handling and add sporty exterior and interior design elements.

Throughout its two decades on the U.S. market, the BMW M3 has been a favorite of enthusiasts looking for sports-car performance and handling from a true four-place car. Although content to smoothly burble around while doing daily driver duty, the M3 transforms into a back-road burner when conditions allow and gives its pilot the opportunity to attack corners with precision and rocket out of them with gusto.

Current BMW M3
Based on the present-generation 3 Series, the M3 is offered in only one trim level among the coupe and hardtop convertible body styles. Both are powered by a 4.0-liter V8, good for 414 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which revs to a thrilling 8,400-rpm redline. A six-speed manual is the standard means of sending power to the rear wheels, and a seven-speed automated-clutch manual gearbox with paddle shifters is optional. M3s also get specific hardware upgrades such as more powerful brakes, stiffer suspension tuning and a specialized limited-slip rear differential.

Like previous M3s, the current model comes well-equipped with the latest luxury amenities, which in this case includes xenon headlamps, leather upholstery, heated power sport seats and a 10-speaker audio system. The convertible features a nifty hardtop and sun-reflective leather. Features like 19-inch wheels, heated seats, satellite radio, the iDrive navigation system and M Sport personalized performance settings are optional. The Competition package available on the coupe adds a lowered suspension, a wider track and reprogrammed electronic damping and stability control systems.

While past M3s have been performance stars, the M3 coupe is quite simply one of the best cars to grace our test track. It accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a blistering 4.6 seconds and came to a stop from 60 mph in an extremely short 100 feet. The slalom and skid pad test results were also on par with vastly more expensive supercars, while on-road handling is beyond reproach. Getting the less rigid convertible degrades these capabilities a little, but regardless of which body style you choose, expect one of the best performance machines money can buy.

Used BMW M3 Models
The present-generation BMW M3 was introduced for 2008 in coupe, convertible and sedan body styles. The latter, discontinued after 2011, was perfect for those who desired M3 performance but with a greater degree of practicality. Changes have been limited to feature additions, with first-year models featuring a less user-friendly iDrive system and slightly different sedan styling. The Competition package was added for 2011 for the coupe and sedan.

The previous M3 lasted from 2001-'06 and was available in coupe and convertible body styles. There was a single trim level for both, powered by a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine producing 333 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission was standard, while a six-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG) was offered as an option starting for the 2002 model year. The latter allows manual-style shifting via paddle shifters next to the steering wheel, and although it was popular, we weren't fans of its herky-jerky performance.

Changes were minor during the lifespan of this generation of M3s. A CD player became standard for 2002, while the following year saw the addition of a few extra convenience features plus an improved DVD-based navigation system. (The former one was CD-based.) The only major addition arrived for 2005 with the Competition Package (coupe only), which provided some of the performance hardware from the European-market M3 CSL, such as 19-inch forged wheels, revised suspension tuning, a quicker steering ratio, upgraded brakes and a less intrusive Track mode for the stability control system.

Every road test of this M3 sang the car's praises in terms of its incredibly balanced handling, prodigious grip and telepathic communication between car and driver. The downsides of this no-compromises performance car are few: a stiff ride, tinny exhaust note, and more wind and road noise in the convertible than one might expect. For die-hard sports car enthusiasts who need four seats, it doesn't get much better than the BMW M3. However, these cars tend to be driven hard and owners frequently modify them, so it's important to examine a used example closely before signing on the dotted line.

The second-generation M3 was introduced in 1995 and was a tidy package, with only its subtle rocker panel extensions, tri-color "M" badges and different wheels to separate it from the common 3 Series. Along with a buttery-smooth 240-hp inline-6, this generation of the M3 wooed enthusiasts with its ripping performance, finely balanced chassis and everyday livability. For enthusiasts on a budget, this is perhaps the best deal for a used M3, combining a wide choice of body styles (coupe, convertible and sedan), along with plenty of entertaining performance and an affordable price tag. The coupe ran throughout this generation from 1995-'99, while the sedan (1997 and '98) and convertible (1998 and '99) were only available briefly and are consequently harder to find.

The first-generation BMW M3 was the most radical. Running from 1988-'91, this M3 was essentially a hard-edged, racetrack-ready version of a 3 Series sport coupe. These M3s featured aggressively blistered fenders fore and aft, slightly thicker C-pillars that allowed a more aggressively canted rear window, and a higher trunk lid fitted with a large spoiler. Under the extroverted bodywork was not an inline-6, but a highly-tuned DOHC 16-valve inline-4 that cranked out, for its time, a very impressive 195 hp without the help of a turbocharger or supercharger. An unmolested first-generation M3 is a rare find these days and tends to require more maintenance and care than the second-generation car because of its more specialized four-cylinder engine.

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2015 BMW M4 gets initiated into the club

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:44:00 EST

It's easy for enthusiasts and traditionalists to give BMW a hard time these days, what with its plans to add more front-wheel drive models and seeming move away from more emotionally connected cars. However, the push for perfection that underscored its old Ultimate Driving Machine motto is still in there, especially in its M models. In fact, the first M4 recently made it to US shores, and the company thought the only appropriate way to celebrate was to introduce its new coupe to some of its high-performance forefathers.
The M4's initiation into the M car brotherhood involved bringing together no fewer than 52 classic and newer models - including four racecars and many privately owned vehicles - to an empty parking lot and letting the coupe drift and slalom around them to say hello. According to BMW, there was a combined 11,566 horsepower on hand. It takes a pretty trusting owner to stand back and watch as a brand-new vehicle slides its tail out with the rear wheels smoking within feet of their pride and joy. Stay tuned until the end where the owners and their cars get a shout out in the credits. Scroll down to read BMW's press release about it.

BMW reveals new X5 Security Plus in Moscow

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:31:00 EST

A major player in the Russian market, BMW is heading to the Moscow Motor Show this month with a slew of local debuts... most of which we've already seen. But among all the new models making the trek from Bavaria to Moscow will be the new X5 Security Plus.
In a new-model launch that will surprise exactly no one, BMW's latest armored vehicle upgrades the X5 with enhanced protection for oligarchs against Chechen rebels, AK47-touting gangsters and missiles randomly falling on Crimean highways. Now meeting the VR6 standard of ballistic protection, the new X5 Security Plus incorporates reinforced bodywork, seats and joints, along with bulletproof glass.
Of course all that reinforcement (not to mention the jars of beluga caviar and bottles of Stoli in the glovebox) will come with a weight penalty, but the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 ought to do the trick, driving 450 horsepower through BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system to get the vehicle's occupants out of a war zone in a hurry.

VW Golf R pitted against BMW M235i in enthusiast's choice battle

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 20:00:00 EST

Most people don't have two, open spots in their garage to fit a practical daily driver and a fire-breathing performance car for the weekends. That's what makes vehicles like the latest Volkswagen Golf R and BMW M235i just about perfect for the average person. Both of these Germans can lope around as a commuter 90 percent of the time and be perfectly comfortable. However, when you want to walk in the door with a big smile on your face, you can take the back roads home and get a real thrill from them.
In his latest short video, Chris Harris from Drive tests these surprisingly comparable German performance cars. Both of them offer buyers in the neighborhood of 300 horsepower, with the BMW winning out with 320 hp. However, the Golf R gets standard all-wheel drive, which is now an option on the M235i. Harris has quite positive things to say about these Europeans, but you're going to have to watch the video to hear just what he thinks.

BMW M5 arrives in Monterey packing 600 hp and matte paint

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 19:01:00 EST

What's a sure-fire way to make a vehicle better? Well, you can add power or make it more exclusive. BMW has done both, just in time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the legendary M5 sedan.
Only 300 examples of the car you see above, the M5 30th Anniversary Edition, will be sold to the public, and those lucky owners will enjoy the most exclusive, most powerful M5 ever made. Power continues to flow from the standard M5's twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8, which has had its wick turned up to 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 now happens in just 3.7 seconds, which is still a scarcely fathomable speed among sports cars, let alone comfortable, finely upholstered sedans.
Speaking of that upholstery, Alcantara and leather seats and an Alcantara steering wheel identify the exclusive M5, while special sill plates further call out the car's unique spec. Outside, the standard Competition Package adds 20-inch wheels and black chrome badges, while 30th Anniversary Editions wear BMW's Frozen Dark Silver matte paint.

BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition is so cool it's Frozen

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:01:00 EST

The new, one-of-a-kind BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition made a ritzy debut last night at BMW's private villa, giving the media its first chance to look at the ultra-exclusive hybrid.
As we said in our previous post, the most notable feature of the Concours d'Elegance i8 is its matte grey paint, known as Frozen Grey Metallic in BMW parlance. This isn't the first time we've seen this shade on an exclusive BMW, as it was last used for the Frozen Grey M3 from 2010.
Contrasting quite nicely with the i8's flat paint are its blue and white accents, and its Dalbergia Brown leather upholstery. Blue contrast stitching complements the interior aesthetic, as do the embossed BMW roundels in the headrests.

BMW maintenance plan no longer transferrable to 2nd owner

Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:15:00 EST

One of the best innovations in car buying in recent years is the rise of no-cost scheduled maintenance programs. Many people feel really anxious about taking their car in for service, and these deals help mitigate that somewhat. Obviously, it's not free for automakers to implement the offers, and now BMW is altering the way its four-year, 50,000-mile Maintenance Program works for some owners. "To keep such an offer sustainable we had to make a change," said Kenn Sparks, Manager of Business Communications at BMW North America, to Autoblog via email.
The original person to buy or lease the model isn't going to see any difference, but the program is no longer transferable to a second owner, unless that person is in the owners household. Those people include includes parents, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, in addition to someone like a spouse or children. The original owner just has to advise BMW of new user. "The program change will affect 2nd owners and for them BMW is introducing an optional full-maintenance product that covers the vehicle up to 100,000 miles," said Sparks. Scroll down to read the entire announcement.

BMW reveals i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition ahead of Pebble Beach

Mon, 11 Aug 2014 08:00:00 EST

If you want to be among the first owners in the United States of the new BMW i8, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance will be the place to be next Saturday. That's where Gooding & Company will auction off this one-of-a-kind hybrid supercar.
The BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition was previously slated to be the very first i8 in North America, but has now apparently been downgraded to the guarantee of being among the firsts. In any event, it packs a series of special touches to make it unique. For starters, it's decked out in matte grey with unique brown leather upholstery, blue accents and Pure Impulse Tera World trim, with BMW i8 logos embossed into the headrests, special treat plates and the signatures of several key BMW personnel on the rear parcel shelf.
Pending government approval, it's set to be the first vehicle in the US fitted with laser headlights, and comes equipped with a special key, Louis Vuitton luggage and a "professional edition" BMW Charging Station. Scope out all the details in the press release below and take a closer look in the gallery above.

Forza Motorsport profiles courageous paralyzed racer

Fri, 08 Aug 2014 20:01:00 EST

It's easy to look at racing video games as just a time waster or a hobby. In reality, though, they're often powerful tools for aspiring racers to learn tracks, race craft and how to set up a car in an easily accessible, risk-free environment. We aren't just talking about proper computer-based sims, like iRacing. Console-based racers like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo provide a test bed for racers of all sorts.
For Mario Bonfante, Jr., a former motorcycle racer that was involved in a brutal accident that left him in a wheelchair with only limited use of his arms, Forza is a bit more. It allows him to perfect the setup of his personal racecar, a heavily modified E46 BMW M3, complete with hand controls.
Check out Mario's inspiring story.

2016 BMW X1 will be second model on company's front-drive platform

Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:44:00 EST

BMW is putting a lot of its chips on the success of its forthcoming front-wheel drive models, and it's making a big bet on the company's future in hoping that customers will accept them. Its front-driving UKL platform is underpinning not just the current crop of Minis but a host of BMW vehicles too. The rollout starts with the 2 Series Active Tourer in Europe later this year. But the Bavarian brand confirms to Automotive News Europe that the next one is the X1 crossover, slated to come to Europe next June. It will also be joined by the X2 next summer, confirming earlier rumors about the fashionable CUV's existence.
As the previous spy photos suggest, the X1 is even smaller than the current model, and it supposedly uses the same crop of turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder and 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines as Mini. But according to Automotive News Europe, the little guy is getting an extended, three-row version for the US, Russia and China. Like with the X4 or X6, the X2 shares most of the mechanical parts with its more conventional-looking sibling but features sleeker styling.
To make all of these UKL-based models possible, BMW is sharing development among them as much as is practical. According to Automotive News Europe, the next generations of the Mini Countryman, Clubman, X1 and X2 share the same electrical systems, drivetrains and more. Adding in the Active Tourer and still mysterious Family Active Sports Tourer to the mix, and the result is a big gamble that needs to go Bimmer's way.

Even 'Ring taxi drivers need to respect the Green Hell

Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:01:00 EST

The Nürburgring Nordschleife has the reputation as one of the most difficult tracks in the world to master - deservedly so. With 14 miles of roadway and about 160 corners over a massive amount of elevation change, the amount of grip can change from turn to turn. As the driver of the famous BMW Ring Taxi learned this weekend after a shunt into the barricades, the 'Ring can bite unsuspecting pros just as easily as amateurs.
The video of the incident below shows the M5 oversteering right into the wall as a phalanx of Porsche models arrive behind it. According to Bridge to Gantry, a website that specializes in news about the 'Ring, the taxi's passengers were picked up by another Ring Taxi and driven off with a fantastic story to tell their friends back home. "The accident happened at low speed, there were two passengers in the car, but no one had at any injuries," said BMW spokesperson Cypselus von Frankenberg to Autoblog via email.
The crash also closed track for over an hour to clean up and to haul the stricken BMW away. When a driver making a living from driving lap after lap at the Nordschleife has a crash even as seemingly minor as this one, it just goes to show why the course has the nickname 'The Green Hell.'