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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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Watch the BMW i8 get wrung out on the Ring

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:58:00 EST

Been wondering where the heck the reviews of the all-new, plug-in-hybrid BMW i8 have been? After all, the car isn't exactly new, having debuted in concept form way back in September of 2009. In August of last year, we even tested a prototype of the new supercar. Despite that, though, we still haven't gotten a crack at the actual vehicle that will be sold to the public.
Well, we're happy to tell you that we're currently testing the i8 and will have a proper review for you soon. If, however, you're just aching for some coverage of the low-slung plug-in, we have a short video of it in action around Germany's famed Nürburgring.
Despite it's three-cylinder, turbocharged gas engine, the i8 sounds pretty angry as it laps the Ring. That is, until it has a little bit of a breakdown. According to the guys that caught the car on video, it appeared the i8 had a minor brake issue, and was parked on the side of the track for a good 15 minutes, with the driver pumping the brakes. We should probably just take this as proof, then, that manufacturers are actually using the Ring for testing, and not just messing about.

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:57:00 EST

"The Ultimate Driving Machine" has been BMW's tagline for nearly 40 years. Launched in the 1970s, the marketing campaign was a stroke of genius by ad firm Ammirati & Puris, as the phrase helped differentiate the imported Bavarian cars from their fellow European rivals by subtly pointing out that Mercedes-Benz and Audi were offering luxury models, while BMW was selling sporty and youthful driving dynamics. The campaign worked - some would argue that stands among the most effective ad campaigns ever - and countless Baby Boomers embraced the brand's fun-to-drive image by taking delivery of the company's new models.
BMW still boasts that its vehicles are "The Ultimate Driving Machine" four decades later, but the brand is very different today. It offered just a few model lines in the mid-1970s, and only a handful of vehicles within. In 2014, the automaker offers an exhaustive range comprised of nearly a dozen lines with almost 50 different models. To survive and thrive, BMW has decided it must massively broaden its appeal.
One of the latest arrivals to BMW's ever-growing stable is the 2014 3 Series Gran Turismo. The five-door hatchback is best thought of as a smaller version of the company's 5 Series Gran Turismo built on stretched 3 Series platform that, in the case of this test car, shares the running gear of the 328i xDrive sedan. On paper, the five-passenger vehicle checks all the proper boxes with regards to performance, utility and economy. But does this family-focused 3 Series still deliver driving dynamics that qualify it for the title of Ultimate Driving Machine?

BMW Vision Future Luxury Concept is bold and beautiful in Beijing

Sun, 20 Apr 2014 10:20:00 EST

BMW officially unveiled the Vision Future Luxury Concept today (or is it tomorrow?) at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, giving the world's media an in-the-flesh look at not only a future design theme for the brand, but a rumored flagship model.
This is a looker in person, thanks to its Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe-inspired design, and it's not too difficult to imagine it in production car form, with smaller wheels, larger mirrors and the other minor transformations that take place from drawing board, to auto show and, finally, to assembly line. In general, it seems like there are more than a few parts of this vehicle that are ready for production.
We didn't talk about it in our initial post, but it bears mentioning that this particular concept is wearing an eDrive badge on its backside, indicating that under the Vision Future Luxury's long hood is some form of plug-in-hybrid propulsion. It's anyone's guess as to what engine, battery and motor combinations BMW is playing with, although it does seem questionable whether BMW would launch a PHEV flagship to do battle with a top-rung variant of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (which will likely use V12 power).

BMW Vision Future Luxury arrives in Beijing dressed to the nines

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:00:00 EST

Almost two weeks ago, we reported that BMW may be bringing a concept to the 2014 Beijing Motor Show that could herald a flagship 9 Series model that would be better suited to do battle with the tip-top of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class range than the current 7 Series. Well, here it is. This is the Vision Future Luxury Concept, and straight away, it looks suited to the role of ultra-luxury flagship.
In our original story, we reported that the Beijing concept would wear styling similar to the Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe that was shown in Villa d'Este nearly a year ago. Unlike that car, the Vision Future Luxury sports four doors, although its roofline plunges aggressively enough for it to be considered a four-door coupe. That doesn't mean it will compromise on rear-seat space, however. Judging by the length of the rear doors alone, this is a very large vehicle.
Its styling, though, is, as we reported, quite familiar. We can see the evolution of the Concours' concept's styling, with a narrower grille that still leads up into the hood. The thin headlights use BMW's Laserlight technology while retaining a shape similar to the Gran Lusso, and the lower intake is dominated by a carbon-fiber air deflector on both ends. BMW's Air Breather system can be found behind the front wheels, adding an accent along the lower portion of the doors. In back, organic LED lighting is used for the super-slim taillights.

BMW offering Track Handling Package for 2 Series

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:20:00 EST

After getting a chance to drive the BMW M235i earlier this year, we mentioned our regret at not being able to sample the lighter and less powerful 228i Coupe. We'd like to have seen how close the latter could get to the former, noting that "there's a lot of room for upgrades with the $11,000 retail difference." BMW is closing that performance gap slightly, announcing that a Track Handling Package will join the options sheet for the 2015 228i Coupe.
The group bolts on Variable Sport Steering, Adaptive M Suspension and M Sport Brakes behind new 18-inch lightweight wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. There's no change to the 240-horsepower four-cylinder, but a coupe so equipped should be able to do plenty more with the horses it has thanks to a faster steering rack, sharper handling due to additional sensors and a ten-millimeter drop in ride height, and larger brakes and discs.
BMW has used the New York Auto Show as a venue to introduce the new Track Handling Package, and it will roll onto showroom floors in July and pricing will be announced sometime between now and then. Takers can get it with both the six-speed manual and eight-speed Sport Automatic, see it in the high-res image gallery above, and read about it in the press release below.

2015 BMW X4 configurator is ready to get personal

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:30:00 EST

The 2015 BMW X4 configurator is ready for your special touch. Starting with the 300-horsepower xDrive35i that starts at $48,925 after destination, our special touch aimed at a luxury cruiser and added $9,250 to proceedings for a final tally of $58,175. That got us the Technology, Lighting and Driver Assistance packages, navigation and enhanced USB and smartphone integration. We were tempted to go for the Dynamic Damping Control for just $1,000 and a set of 20-inch M Double Spoke Wheels, but the configurator didn't want to mix the M Sport Line with our Sparkling Brown metallic exterior hue so we skipped it.
We've covered the details on pricing and the breakdown of the order guide elsewhere, so you can always click through for refreshers. Or you can skip all those words and dive straight into trying to build an X4 that makes you say, "Yeah, now I get it."

2015 BMW X4 is a budget X6

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:40:00 EST

We won't argue that crossovers are hugely successful vehicles, with automakers working to provide functional CUVs in a wide range of sizes. But over at BMW, things are just getting out of hand, as evidenced by this new X4 "Sports Activity Coupe" that debuts here at the 2014 New York Auto Show.
BMW is seeing fit to offer vehicles in even the most niche of niches, and the X4 is no exception. Want proof? Have a look at the X4, and the compare it to the X3, the 3 Series Gran Turismo, the 3 Series Sport Wagon, and the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Aside from marginal differences in things like ground clearance and the exact slope of the hatchback, what, exactly, is the difference?
Like the other models we just mentioned, the X4 is powered by either a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 240 horsepower or a more powerful, 3.0-liter turbo-six with 300 horsepower, and unsurprisingly, power is sent to the ground exclusively via the company's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the sole gearbox available with either engine. All sounds very familiar, right?

2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe challenges the M6 in New York

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:21:00 EST

Despite being a well-respected outfit for decades, Alpina remains something of a mystery to many stateside BMW fans. In Europe, Alpina has established itself as a first-rate source for breathed-upon high-performance Bimmers, and it's looking to continue picking up traction on our shores. The US has received a handful of Alpina models through BMW factory channels, namely the 7-Series-based B7, and now we're getting another fast four-door with the debut of the BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe at today's 2014 New York Auto Show.
The B6 Gran Coupe stands as an interesting sibling to the factory's M6 Grand Coupe. Both are propelled by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, but the tunes are quite different. The Alpina produces 540 horsepower and 540 pound-feet of torque, which is 20 hp less than the M6, but with 40 lb-ft more torque. An eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive mean that the B6 is about half a second quicker to 60 miles per hour than BMW's own creation. Plus, the B6 has an unrestricted top speed of 198 mph, making it one seriously rapid 6 Series Gran Coupe.
The sport sedan also wears other Alpina goodies like 20-inch versions of the brand's 21-spoke wheels and exclusive color options. The B6 Gran Coupe goes for $118,225 (including destination), and will be available through BMW dealers immediately after the auto show ends. More info about the B6 is in the release below.

2015 BMW M4 Convertible will give the best bad hair days

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:31:00 EST

BMW officially unveiled the 2015 M4 Convertible at the Javits Center in New York this morning. The droptop, which will slot in next to the M4 Coupe in BMW's performance line, offers infinitely more headroom, fresh air and sunshine for those that want a little more great outdoors and tousled hair with their M experience.
Visually, the M4 convertible is similar to the coupe, and carries on the hardtop's athletic stance with a long wheelbase, short front overhang, aerodynamic mirrors and in the case of this showcar, optional yellow-painted brake calipers. The car's expressive, angry face is perhaps the most notable aspect of its styling, screaming "get the hell out of my way!" with its signature twin-bar kidney grille, trio of air intakes and squinty LED headlights. Inside, the convertible employs three-temperature neck warmers (for chilly top-down days), an absurd amount of "M" logos and a wealth of luxury and technology features.
The rear-wheel-drive convertible uses the same engine as the coupe: a high-revving, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six producing 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed M dual-clutch transmission. BMW says the car can make a 0-60 sprint in just 4.4 seconds when equipped with the manual.

BMW to follow Honda back into F1?

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:30:00 EST

The economic downturn wrought devastating effects on motor racing. Formula One alone lost half its engine suppliers when Honda left at the end of the 2008 season, and both BMW and Toyota followed at the end of 2009. But things are looking up again. Cosworth may have dropped out this season, reducing the engine suppliers to three: Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes, the latter of which admits that it may have left had the engine formula not changed. But Mercedes has stayed and is dominating the championship. Honda is coming back next season. And word around the paddock is it may not be the only one.
According to Giancarlo Minardi - founder of the team now known as Scuderia Toro Rosso - BMW engineers have been conspicuously spotted lately at F1 test sessions and grands prix, lending to speculation that the new engine regulations may entice the Bavarian automaker back into the series. According to Minardi, BMW's marketing division is pushing for the automaker's return to F1, with the board slated to make a decision in May. BMW would be more likely to consider an engine-supply deal rather than taking a team over like it had with Sauber, but with which team or teams it might collaborate remains a big question mark at this point.
As if that's not enough, Ford is said to be considering taking over Cosworth's aborted V6 turbo engine program to take both outfits back into the sport as well. Cosworth supplied F1 engines under the Ford banner for years, but returned under its own name for four seasons from 2010 through 2013 before shuttering its program to develop an engine to meet the new regulations adopted this season.