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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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EVO takes flight in BMW's sultry i8

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:45:00 EST

Electric cars and hybrids are here to stay, much to the apparent dismay of some auto enthusiasts, but that doesn't mean they have to represent the death of enjoyable driving. Granted, the initial run of hybrids in the US like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius weren't exactly tailor-made for aggressive folks behind the wheel, but things are clearly changing. In its latest video, Evo takes a look at three examples from Europe's new crop of electrified vehicles to show that the future of fun motoring is safe and sound.
Evo editor Henry Catchpole kicks things off with one of the most bizarre EVs of the bunch, the tiny Renault Twizy. Its low power and 50-mile-per-hour top speed might make it miles away from a hot hatch, but there's still fun to be had in extracting the most from this little city car. Next up is the Audi A3 E-Tron, which isn't technically available yet. It's a step in the right direction of eventually creating an affordable, fun-to-drive hybrid hot hatch.
However, the main event is Catchpole getting some seat time in the BMW i8. The Bimmer can really fly -literally in this case - and the butterfly-door coupe offers a clear look at the prospects for electrified sports cars. It might not have the power of hybrid supercar contemporaries like the LaFerrari or Porsche 918 Spyder, but the BMW doesn't cost nearly as much, either. See? Improved efficiency doesn't have to mean boring.

Are you a BMW M4 GTS track car in disguise?

Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:28:00 EST

BMW is always happy to extract a little bit more gumption out of its M cars, just look at the latest 30th anniversary M5 or even the earlier CSL variants of the M3 for proof. Now, It looks like we might be getting the first glimpse of an even hotter M4, and it's wearing very interesting livery.
Our spies recently shot this M4 that could preview a future GTS version. It's all done up in MotoGP decals, but that might just be a ruse. This car sports a camouflaged lower air dam and rear wing, but those parts don't appear to be from an actual series safety car. The chin spoiler seems larger, and the rear wing is completely different. You can also spot an obvious Recaro logo on the driver's seat in one of the photos. Plus, the BMW emblem is removed at the back.
The disguised changes and odd choice of decals make this prototype incredibly weird. A BMW exec said at the beginning of the year that there were "no plans whatsoever to make a lighter, harder version just yet," of the M3 or M4, despite earlier rumors to the contrary. Check out the gallery to see what you think this is.

2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible will flip its lid for $38,850

Tue, 09 Sep 2014 18:00:00 EST



For the most part, they look almost identical to their coupe versions, except that they now boast an electrically folding soft top.
BMW is dropping the top of the 2 Series in early 2015 in the US with convertible versions of the 228i and M235i. They'll make their world debut at the Paris Motor Show later this year and will show their faces on this side of the pond at the 2014 Los Angeles International Auto Show.

BMW 1 Series sedan prepares to fight Mercedes CLA, Audi A3

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 18:58:00 EST

The entry-level premium sedan segment is pretty hot right now, with the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class doing well for their respective automakers here in the US. Of course, BMW has its 2 Series, but that's currently only available as a coupe, with a convertible bodystyle forthcoming. That all looks to change, however, as our spies recently caught BMW testing a four-door 1 Series sedan that seems to have the A3 and CLA clear in its sight.
BMW's entry-level four-door is expected to ride on the same front-wheel-drive UKL platform that we recently spied in Mini Countryman form. We're pretty sure this thing will launch under the 1 Series line (odds for sedans and wagons, evens for coupes and convertibles), but it's anyone's guess with BMW - after all, the five-door, front-drive Active Tourer wears a 2 Series nameplate.
Look for the 1 Series sedan to launch sometime in 2016 as a 2017 model. Better late than never in the entry-lux segment, we suppose.

BMW takes 30th Anniversary Edition M5 out to drift

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:01:00 EST

If you only look at the videos from BMW, it appears that the best way to celebrate the 30th birthday of the M5 is some smoky drifting, and it sure looks like a great way to mark the occasion to us. Now that the Bavarian brand's new 30th anniversary special edition is all set to hit the road, the most powerful M5 ever is getting it own chance to roast its tires on video, as well.
The M5 30th Anniversary Edition shouldn't have any problem hanging its rear end out, really. Under the hood, its twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 is turned up to 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque and can allegedly sprint to 60 miles per hour in a scant 3.7 seconds. That's pretty impressive for any sports car but especially for a sedan that can still carry four passengers comfortably cosseted in leather and Alcantara upholstery.
BMW is making just 300 of these celebratory models worldwide, and appropriately for the anniversary, only 30 of them are going to be available in the US. If the special M5 doesn't make your heart race, the video basks in a little nostalgia, as well, by showing off the original model for some historical context.

2014 Dinan S1 BMW M5

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 11:57:00 EST

The last time the Dinan name graced the pages of Autoblog, Michael Harley was waxing poetic about the S3-R BMW 1M Coupe, a car that still stands in his ranks as one of the best cars he's ever driven. And that wasn't just because it was, you know, amazing. It's because as far as tuners go, Dinan produces some seriously well-executed products. Harley said of the 1M, for example, "It was so fully formed and well-rounded that it felt like BMW itself had made it."
Eager to sample some of these wholly wonderful wares, I cleared a few hours in my Monterey Car Week schedule and booked a date with the S1 M5 you see here - the (current) daily driver of Mr. Steve Dinan, himself. But unlike the S3-R 1M the company tuned previously, the donor car in question here is vastly different and, if I'm honest, not as good. See, I adore the stock 1M in a way words cannot express, but the standard-issue M5... good as it is, there are indeed a few flaws.
But after driving the Dinan S1 M5 around the Monterey Peninsula, I can confirm two things. First, Harley's conclusion that Dinan builds products that feel 100 percent BMW-spec is absolutely true. And second, Steve and the gang haven't just created a tuned M5, they've built a better one.

BMW M2, we're happy to see you

Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:58:00 EST

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of the BMW M235i and, well, I didn't love it. Sure, it's a great car, but I just didn't truly bond with it the way I have with previous M cars. What I had hoped for was a proper successor to the 1 Series M Coupe I fell in love with in 2011, but what I got instead was just a sporty 2 Series that didn't exactly stir my emotions in the same way.
But now there's this: the honest-to-goodness BMW M2. Previously, spy photographers captured a development-mule M2, but this is the real thing, in its full prototype body. Notice the aggressive front fascia that mimics the M3/M4, the more more robust wheel/tire package, and the M-standard quad exhaust outlets around back. This thing sure does look the business.
Details are slim as of this writing, but rumors suggest power will come from BMW's now-ubiquitous N55 turbocharged 3.0-liter six, with output somewhere in the 360- to 380-horspower range. The seven-speed M dual-clutch transmission seems like a good fit here, too. As does a six-speed manual transmission (here's hoping).

M-thusiast pops the question at BMW Welt

Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:44:00 EST

We've seen all manner of marriage proposals over the years, but our favorites, of course, revolve around cars. One guy proposed to his girlfriend at a traffic stop, another during an autocross event, while yet another got dozens of Mazda MX-5 owners together to spell "Marry Me?" in Miatas. This latest proposal, however, put the M in Marriage as only a BMW enthusiast could.
While visiting BMW Welt in Munich, Bachir from Lebanon rolled out in a new blue M3 and got down on one knee in front of the gathered crowds to pop the question to Layal, his girlfriend of one year.
We'll let you watch the clip for yourself to see how it went, but suffice it to say that she was delighted. The couple plan to drive to the church in a procession of M cars for what promises to be a high-octane ceremony in their home country.

Behind the scenes of BMW's 'Driftmob' [w/videos]

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:58:00 EST



All this, for one minute and 47 seconds of action-packed footage with no official plot.
We arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, on the third and final practice day for the drivers of a BMWStories internet video called The Epic Driftmob feat. BMW M235i. We are immediately whisked to a large, empty parking lot on the outskirts of Cape Town, where tires are squealing and chunks of rubber are flying as five red BMW M235i coupes churn up more smoke than a California wildfire. And the smell - it smells like heated metal, the kind of thing rev limiters are made for. Times five.

2014 BMW R NineT

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:57:00 EST

BMW is taking a page from the Harley-Davidson playbook with its groundbreaking R NineT. A retro cafe racer with an urban hooligan twist, the bike is fully customizable from fork to exhaust. Of course, any motorcycle can be customized, but the fact that BMW has built its newest bike to encourage modification using parts that can be swapped with simple tools is a radical move for a motorcycle maker best known for its plug-and-play touring bikes.
To underscore exactly how radical, BMW has even partnered with custom heavy-hitter Roland Sands Design, which developed the initial concept for the bike and is now manufacturing a full line of parts and accessories for the R NineT, including radial valve covers ($950), retro racing saddles ($400-$420), radial gauge housing ($400) and a radial headlight bezel ($250), among other things, all of which can be swapped with a socket wrench or screwdriver instead of a hacksaw, wire cutters and TIG welder.
Alas, the bike I tested for two weeks was stock, so consider it a blank canvas.