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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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Porsche 911 Turbo and Nissan GT-R Nismo star in World's Greatest Drag Race 4

Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:01:00 EST

We love Motor Trend's annual World's Greatest Drag Race video. Now back for its fourth appearance, the idea of lining some of the world's fastest cars up for a ten-wide, straight-line, full-throttle run is, well... it's pretty freaking badass.
The lineup this year boasts some impressively fast cars to be sure. The group of ten includes the following darlings: Alfa Romeo 4C, BMW i8, BMW M4, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Ford Fiesta ST, Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, Nissan GT-R Nismo, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Subaru WRX STI and, last but not least, the Volkswagen GTI. Give us any one of those for the weekend, and we're happy to take the keys.
It must be said though, that for a publication that draws as much water as Motor Trend does, there are some big cars that we might expect to be here instead. The Lamborghini Huracán or Ferrari 458 Speciale would have added some exotic flare to the list, and the omissions of the Chevy Corvette Stingray (for the second year in a row) and the Dodge Challenger Hellcat are real head-scratchers.

BMW names new head of M division

Wed, 24 Sep 2014 08:44:00 EST

BMW's performance division has been run by Dr. Friedrich Nitschke since 2011, developing, among other products, the new M3 and M4. But soon the good doctor will be retiring, and BMW has just named his successor.
Taking Nitschke's place as chairman of BMW M GmbH will be Franciscus van Meel (pictured at right), who until recently served as managing director of Audi Quattro GmbH - the rival outfit that makes Ingolstadt's performance models, including the R8 supercar and RS line of performance models.
Van Meel will join BMW on October 1, presumably to learn the ropes from Nitschke before the 59-year-old executive steps down at the end of the year. Back in January, Audi named Heinz Peter Hollwerweger as head of Quattro GmbH and reassigned van Meel to its Beijing R&D center, a role which evidently didn't suit him as well as creating Autobahn-storming German muscle cars.

2015 BMW i8 configurator is ready to show the future

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:30:00 EST

Good news if you're one of the lucky few that can afford the new BMW i8. The high-performance hybrid's configurator has gone live on BMW USA's consumer website, meaning you can head in and customize till you drop.
If you've ever played with a BMW configurator, you'll instantly feel at home with the i8's. You have the choice of four trim packages (your author refuses to use BMW's pretentious "World" trim names), followed by wheel and exterior paint options. The interior choices are fixed to the trim level, so aside from trim, color and the choice of two wheel options, there isn't a lot to pick out on the i8.
Head on over and take a look.

BMW X5 driver repeatedly fails to understand big rig braking distances

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 20:00:00 EST

Nobody should be shocked that a big, heavy vehicle like a semi truck takes a longer distance to stop than the average passenger car; it's just basic physics. However, this BMW X5 driver seemingly has a major problem grasping the concept, and it results in some serious damage to the back of his SUV.
The whole incident is very confusing to watch. The BMW doesn't even seem to have a reason to slow down before the semi slams into the back of it at fairly high speed. But to make the situation even weirder, the crashes just keep happening again and again.
To give the BMW driver a little credit, he appears amazingly calm when surveying the damage afterward. But you have to wonder what this guy was thinking when trying a harebrained move like this. Check out the video to watch the carnage unfold.

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.