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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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MW's new Driftmob video shows the M235i like you've never seen it before

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:01:00 EST

Last month, we went behind the scenes of the filming of BMW's new Driftmob, web video, bringing you one post from the practice sessions, and another from the shoot itself, which took place in an enormous traffic circle in Cape Town, South Africa. Today, BMW has launched the final version of Driftmob, and it's pretty damn cool.
The plot is pretty simple: just like a flashmob, in which people invade a location and perform choreographed dances to music, much to the delight of surprised onlookers, the "driftmob" features a quintet of red M235i coupes that take over a traffic circle and perform choreographed dances - sideways - to the delight of onlookers. The only differences are that, in this case, the onlookers are mostly paid extras (though there were many unwitting passersby that joined the crowd at times) and the only music is a constant squealing of tires-a sweet song if we ever heard one. Then, after about two minutes of tire-smoking shenanigans, the coupes vanish.
As promised, we will have a more detailed, behind the scenes story about the filming of the video, including insights from Rhys Millen, Samuel Hübinette, Dai Yoshihara, Rich Rutherford, and Conrad Grunewald, the five guys who executed these remarkable stunts. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the short flick.

Jay Leno puts focus on some retro-inspired BMW bikes

Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:59:00 EST

Jay Leno puts eight wheels on display this week for Jay Leno's Garage from a quartet of retro-inspired BMW motorcycles. They are the creations of husband and wife team Larry and Carol Romestant, who build each one in their home garage.
Larry is a former aerospace engineer who loves BMW bikes, especially the K models. Now, he's combining his passion with a real talent for fabrication to build his own cycles with his wife. With Larry and Carol the only ones working on these projects, it takes them six to nine months to build each one. In addition to the old-school looks, the motorcycles are supposed to be a bit more user friendly than stock. For example, one of them ditches the standard five-speed gearbox in favor of a six-speed unit to be a little more comfy when cruising at high speeds.
Since there isn't enough time to take all four of them for a ride, Jay picks his favorite to test out on the open road. Scroll down to see which one he chooses.

BMW planning six-cylinder i9 hybrid to celebrate centenary?

Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:29:00 EST

On the prospect of a new BMW M1 based on the company's new i8 hybrid, the jury has been in and out so much that we can't even tell which way it's likely to go. However, the latest reports coming in from Germany suggest that BMW may have something else up its sleeves. Rather than make a conventional gas-powered version of the i8, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport says BMW will make a more powerful one.
Tentatively dubbed i9, the hybrid sports car is rumored to pack a six-cylinder internal-combustion engine instead of the i8's turbo three. Coupled to more potent electric motors, it would figure to produce even more than the 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque already on tap in the i8, with further weight reductions to offset the bulkier engine.
Auto Motor und Sport says the mooted model will be produced to celebrate the Bavarian automaker's 100th anniversary and eclipse the i8's performance, with a projected 0-60 run in under four seconds en-route to taking the gloves off to crunch the Autobahn in electric bliss. The new i flagship would be another member of the company's growing electrified family, joining the existing i3 hatchback, upcoming i5 minivan and possible i8 Spyder down the line.

2015 BMW M3 squares off against Alpina D3 in gas vs. diesel throwdown

Sat, 26 Jul 2014 20:01:00 EST

There was a time when diesel meant one of two things: This vehicle's owner either wants to save some money at the pump or needs to haul massive loads. It definitely did not mean that the owner of said machine wanted to drive fast, but that perception has slowly but surely been changing over the last several years, with automakers from Volkswagen and Ford to Audi and BMW offering spiced-up versions of their high-compression, turbocharged diesels.
It's that last automaker we mentioned that's the subject of the video you'll see down below. One bright-blue BMW M3 was procured by the Brits at Autocar, and it was lined up against a deep-black Alpina D3 (which we sadly can't buy in the US) in a spate of tests, including acceleration, stopping, sound and lap times on a closed circuit. The results, which we won't spoil for you, were enlightening, and were followed up by personal impressions from the man behind the wheel.
We know you're curious. All it takes to find out which of these 3.0-liter, twin-turbo-powered 3 Series variants came out on top is to scroll down below and watch. You know what to do.

China probing German automakers over spare parts

Sat, 26 Jul 2014 07:59:00 EST

The Chinese market has proven to be a boon to German luxury automakers. However, the way that the companies have allegedly been controlling their supply of spare parts has begun to draw the ire of the nation's government. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, officials from the country's economic planning organization have opened a probe into Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some Japanese carmakers over claimed price inflation and limiting supply.
Specifically, the investigation centers around two aspects of how the companies do business, according to Bloomberg. Investigators want to know whether the original equipment component makers are able to sell spare parts only to automaker-authorized dealers or if they are also available to independent shops. There is also the issue of whether the price markup on replacement pieces is too high. The tight controls could be partially explained by China's reputation for producing counterfeit parts.
Evidently, the investigators haven't checked parts prices at car dealers elsewhere in the world. At least in the US, paying more at the dealer for factory components just goes along with owning a vehicle. If evidence of price fixing is found, the companies could face fines the equivalent of millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg.

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:30:00 EST

Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?
Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.
A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

BMW begins restoring Elvis Presley's 507 [w/video]

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:42:00 EST

Imagine the King of Rock n' Roll driving a car and you'll likely picture a pink Cadillac or a yellow De Tomaso shot full of holes. But Elvis also owned a 1957 BMW 507 roadster, and now that roadster is returning home to BMW headquarters.
The 507 was a rare bird, of which only 254 examples were ever made. They were sold mostly to celebrities and royalty, but Elvis Presley was a GI when he bought it while stationed in Germany. The example that he bought had been displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, used as a press car and raced by Hans Stuck (which is how Elvis came to see it in the first place), so when he took delivery of it second-hand, the dealership had a new engine installed. It was originally white, but legend has it that Elvis got tired of women writing their phone numbers on the side of it in lipstick that he had it repainted in red.
Stories differ on what exactly happened to it next, with some saying that he returned it once the lease was up and other saying that the army shipped it back to him in the States after his tour was over. But what we do know is that the car sat for many years, neglected but sheltered from the elements. Now it's heading to the the BMW Museum in Munich, where it will be on display until August 10, after which the BMW Group Classic department will undertake a comprehensive restoration of the star-studded roadster that's expected to take two years of work.

BMW predicts 2 Series Active Tourer will have 75% conquest rate

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:01:00 EST

In the last few years, BMW has definitively proven that it wasn't a slave to its legacy. In the US, the 3 Series was generally associated with smooth, flat-six engines, but the Bavarian brand dropped a four-cylinder turbo into it. The company was also known for its sports sedans, and it went green with the i3 and i8. Now, rear-wheel drive is off the table as defining its vehicles, as well. With the imminent launch of the 2 Series Active Tourer, the Bavarian's models are going front drive and opening up themselves to a whole new group of customers, so the thinking goes.
"We are expecting the Active Tourer will have a conquest rate of around 75 percent," said Frank Niederlaender, a BMW product manger, to Automotive News Europe. If you're not hip to the lingo, that means three quarters of the hatchback's buyers would come from other brands - an impressive figure, if accurate.
When it hits the road, the 2 Series Active Tourer will be the first BMW-branded vehicle to use the company's UKL front-wheel drive platform, already on the current Mini Cooper. The roomy hatchback is aimed at young families looking for a car that is luxurious but can still tote around the tots. It launches in Europe in September to compete against similar models like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, but the Bimmer isn't crossing the Atlantic to the US until early 2015, according to ANE.

BMW 5 Series wagon makes incognito grocery run by way of the 'Ring

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:15:00 EST

With a debut in 2009, it's high time that BMW delivered the world with the standard mid-cycle refresh of its popular 5 Series. While we aren't expecting to see it here in the United States, that freshening will include the vehicle shown above, the 5 Series wagon.
This is only the second time we've spotted the camo'd, long-roof 5er in the past year, and while it was chained to a flat-bed in those snaps, today, we can see it lapping the Nürburgring. In addition to the images from the track, we also have our first look at the cabin of the freshened 5 Series, although even it is covered in camouflage, making it quite difficult to spot anything of substance.
As for the exterior, expect modest changes for the second-half of the F10 5er's life, with typical tweaks like new headlights and taillights, and perhaps a freshened front fascia. Considering we last saw the upcoming 5 Series just over a year ago, we'd expect an auto show debut for this smoothed-over model in the not-so-distant future, with Paris a leading candidate.

BMW is the US auto industry's leading exporter

Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:44:00 EST

Which automaker do you think ships the most cars out of North America, one of the Detroit Three or perhaps one of the Japanese automakers? Nope. It turns out the BMW's Spartanburg, SC, factory is the biggest automotive exporter from the continent in the United States. According to a recent profile by Bloomberg looking at the plant's 20th anniversary, Bimmer's southern ops sends out more vehicles than all of Michigan combined.
When the Spartanburg factory opened up in 1994, its success was hardly assured, largely because of South Carolina's relatively small economy at the time. However, BMW picked the site because of its proximity to East Coast shipping that made it easier to move engines and transmission in from Germany and export vehicles back to Europe, according to Bloomberg. The Bavarians clearly made the right choice.
Today, the plant has developed into an absolute powerhouse. The factory currently assembles the X3, X4, X5 and X6 and exports about 70 percent of the vehicles built there. Things are only getting better. BMW is investing $1 billion through 2016 to boost annual production from the current 300,000 units up to 450,000 and to build a new flagship crossover called X7. The expansion also adds a further 800 jobs there to take total employment up to about 8,800. Including the latest financing, BMW has put over $7.3 billion into the factory since it opened, notes Bloomberg.