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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 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.

BMW M5 turns 30, celebrates sideways

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:29:00 EST

BMW has a secret, and it's not telling. The brand's M Power blog is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the M5 and is taking a look back at previous models of its Autobahn-storming sedan, but it says that it will end "with a surprise." The celebration kicks off with a short video showing the latest M5 making some smoky donuts.
The original M5 debuted in 1985 and was the company's most expensive model at the time. Still, it packed a 3.5-liter six-cylinder generating a claimed 282 horsepower (286 PS), which was rather potent in its day. The company touted it as the world's fastest production four-door sports sedan at the time.
BMW won't reveal the surprise until it has chronicled all five generations of the M5, but it wouldn't be shocking to see an anniversary edition model appear sometime later this year. Scroll down to check out the video of the muscle sedan celebrating its birthday the only way it knows how.

BMW details Concept X5 eDrive ahead of New York debut

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 16:33:00 EST

Already weighing more than most other types of vehicles and with the space to accommodate the extra equipment, crossovers and SUVs arguably make for one of the more ideal platforms to transform into a hybrid. And there have been a handful of them - like the Audi Q5, Infiniti QX60/Nissan Pathfinder, Porsche Cayenne/Volkswagen Touareg, Lexus RX450h/Toyota Highlander and Cadillac Escalade/Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon - but by and large the majority of hybrids on the market are sedans and hatchbacks. BMW, however, looks poised to join the minority with the X5.
The Bavarian automaker showcased the X5 eDrive concept at Frankfurt last year, and as promised, has now revealed the followup it will present at the New York Auto Show in just a few days. The new Concept X5 eDrive, as BMW has now revealed, pairs a 2.0-liter turbo four good for 245 horsepower to a 95-hp electric motor to deliver a combined 340 horsepower. Its lithium-ion battery can power it for up to 20 miles and at speeds up to 75 miles per hour before the gasoline engine needs to kick in. All that without sacrificing the vehicle's utility, maintaining an almost perfectly flat loading floor with 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, and without sacrificing much on performance, either: with a 0-62 time of seven seconds flat, the X5 eDrive concept is quicker off the line than the production X5 with the 2.5-liter turbodiesel and just a tenth off of the 3.0-liter turbodiesel.
With the full technical details now released (you can delve into it all in the press release below), the only question remains when BMW will actually put the X5 eDrive into production. Given its appearance in New York, though, we gather that whenever it does reach showrooms, it'll reach American ones as well.

BMW considering building 3 Series in North America

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 10:31:00 EST

There might be even more BMWs coming from North America soon. The company recently announced plans to build a flagship crossover called the X7 at its Spartanburg, SC, factory. Now, rumors are emerging that the Bavarians might be thinking about building a second North American factory that could build its quick-selling 3 Series.
According to Bloomberg, the German luxury giant is considering several possible locations for a North American factory, including two in Mexico, that may build the 3. "We will decide this in the next months. On the North American continent, there's still potential," said BMW production boss, Harald Krueger, in an interview meant for company staff obtained by Bloomberg.
If BMW decides to open a plant in Mexico, it would be following its rival Audi, which already announced construction of a factory there. Mercedes-Benz has been rumored to be working on a deal with Nissan to build its cars South of the Border as well. Rumors of Bimmer considering Mexican production have also cropped up in the past, so it wouldn't come as a total surprise to hear it made official.

BMW broadens engine bolt recall to nearly half-million cars worldwide

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:15:00 EST

Almost one month ago, we reported on a BMW investigation into a potentially defective bolt that lived in the company's VANOS variable valve timing system. At that point, the potential recall was seemingly limited to Chinese-market cars; the company was filing a recall application with Chinese officials.
Today, Bloomberg is reporting that the engine bolt issue has expanded into a recall for several world markets, involving some 489,000 vehicles. BMW was able to verify that report to Autoblog, while also providing a great deal more detail about the issue and vehicles affected.
The recall affects vehicles powered by N55 inline six-cylinder gasoline engines equipped with VANOS and Valvetronic technologies. 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series and 5 Series Gran Turismo, X3, X5, X6 and Z4 models from the 2010 to 2012 model years are included, as is the 2012 6 Series.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:57:00 EST

There's a running joke among auto writers that the perfect car would be a diesel-powered, rear-drive wagon with manual transmission and no power accessories whatsoever. It would only be available in brown and would somehow be as fun to drive as a Mazda MX-5 Miata. Makes total sense, right?
Realistically, no manufacturer is ever going to completely fulfill our wishes, no matter how much we beg, plead, kick and scream about our dream car that most of us would actually never buy. The best we can do is hope for a vehicle that mixes some aspects of this ideal journalist's car. And in today's world, that vehicle just might be the BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon.
No, it's not available with a manual gearbox, and power can only be sent through an xDrive all-wheel-drive system. It's also not available in brown (although both Mojave Metallic and Sparkling Bronze Metallic are acceptable stand-ins), but it ticks the two main boxes of being a diesel-powered wagon, one of only a couple such models in the United States.

BMW bringing special Horse Edition 7 Series to Beijing

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:57:00 EST

The Beijing Motor Show is just a couple of weeks away, and BMW wouldn't miss out on the opportunity to show off its latest wares to one of its most vital markets. So when the doors open in Beijing, BMW will showcase the new 2 Series Active Tourer, 2 Series Coupe, M3 and M4, 4 Series Gran Coupe and X4. It will also introduce the i3 and i8 to China for the first time. But those are all models we've seen already. What's new is... wait for it... the 7 Series Horse Edition.
Not celebrating horses so much as the Year of the Horse, this special edition 7 Series is based on the long-wheelbase model and comes with all manner of M equipment packages, a special paint job from BMW Individual and unique touches inside and out. BMW isn't saying which engine it features, but it sells the series in China in 730Li, 740Li, 750Li, 760Li and ActiveHybrid forms, with rear- or all-wheel drive. Given that the one pictured is wearing an xDrive badge, it would have to be either the 740Li or 750Li, but buyers will presumably be able to order it in whichever spec they desire.
While it may not be as exciting as the 9 Series concept BMW is rumored to have lined up for the Beijing show as well, you can bet that the Bavarian automaker will find plenty of buyers for this extra-special, extra-Chinese, extra-equestrian luxury sedan, and command a healthy premium from each and every one of them.