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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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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.

Formula E gets wireless-charging BMW i8 safety car [w/video]

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:16:00 EST

Racing series typically select a safety car appropriate to the kinds of racecars for which they'll be setting the pace. So you might find a Mercedes SLS pacing a Formula One grand prix, for example, and you're more likely to find a BMW M4 on duty at a DTM race and a Chevy Camaro or SS on an oval speedway for a NASCAR or Indy race. It would only stand to reason, then, that the FIA Formula E Championship kicking off next month in Beijing would press a plug-in into service as its safety car. But the organizers didn't go for your run-of-the-mill Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius.
No, the safety car for Formula E will be a BMW i8 specially modified for the occasion. As you can see from the video below, the hybrid sports car packs a full roll cage, racing buckets with harnesses, special communications systems and on-board fire extinguishers. But that's not all.
In partnership with technological partner Qualcomm, the Formula E support fleet - including two examples each of the i8 and i3 - will feature inductive charging. So while one is out on the track, or at least sitting at the end of the pit lane waiting to be deployed - the other will be charging wirelessly. The vehicles are still pending FIA approval, and only one has been outfitted with the Qualcomm Halo wireless charging system (with the others to be retrofitted later), but they were all on hand for the recent practice race at Donnington Park.

Evo pits BMW M3 against Porsche Macan in drag battle

Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:29:00 EST

If you want to move five passengers in very rapid fashion and you've got a $75,000 budget, two newly introduced four-door models immediately come to mind - both are the highest performing vehicles in their respective segments. But which is faster off the line, to the 60-mile-per-hour benchmark or flat-out over an even longer run? Evo took both to paved aircraft runway to find out.
In lane one we've got the all-new Porsche Macan Turbo, which boasts a twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V6 rated at 400 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The Porsche is fitted with a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, and the 4,244-pound crossover has the traction advantage of standard all-wheel drive. In lane two is the all-new BMW M3, powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six rated at 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. It is also equipped with a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, but only the rear wheels of the 3,595-pound sedan are driven. Both the BMW and Porsche arrive with launch control, which helps to remove driver error off the line.
Which automaker's launch control system is better off the line? Does all-wheel-drive grip give the crossover the advantage it needs to overcome its adversary's power-to-weight advantage? Will aerodynamics factor into the results? Which would you put in your garage, and why? The video may surprise you.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer getting third row

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 19:12:00 EST

In what enthusiasts will likely see as a continued attempt to dilute the BMW brand, the German manufacturer is testing a three-row variant of its already controversial 2 Series Active Tourer. Our trusty spy photographers captured images of the new, front-drive MPV testing on the roads of Europe.
The easiest way to ID this more passenger friendly 2er is its slightly longer length, which will allow it to accommodate seven people in total. As our spies point out, this should make the 2AT an attractive proposition for European taxi companies. Yep, BMW built a car that will be praised by taxi drivers. On top of the extra seats, the rear overhang appears larger as well, which should mean extra cargo space.
This, of course, is not the first time we've captured images of a new 2AT variant undergoing testing. Back in May, we spotted a hybrid-powered variant out for a drive.

Europe's BMW 1 Series hatch caught looking fresh faced

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 11:01:00 EST

Hey, remember the BMW 1 Series? Yes, German brand's successors to the US-market coupe and convertible have one-upped the old car to wear the 2 Series designation now, but in other markets, our No. 1 crush still lives on, and as evidenced in these spy shots, the entry-level hatch appears to be undergoing a modest facelift.
We've spotted prototypes of the refreshed 1 Series before, with the majority of the car's changes focused around the front fascia. This time around, we're seeing the three-door variant, with wheels seemingly fitting of a Sport or even M Sport trim.
Of course, this One's not for US, as the small BMW isn't slated to come to our market anytime soon. Click through the gallery above to see what we're missing.

2015 BMW M4 gets initiated into the club

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:44:00 EST

It's easy for enthusiasts and traditionalists to give BMW a hard time these days, what with its plans to add more front-wheel drive models and seeming move away from more emotionally connected cars. However, the push for perfection that underscored its old Ultimate Driving Machine motto is still in there, especially in its M models. In fact, the first M4 recently made it to US shores, and the company thought the only appropriate way to celebrate was to introduce its new coupe to some of its high-performance forefathers.
The M4's initiation into the M car brotherhood involved bringing together no fewer than 52 classic and newer models - including four racecars and many privately owned vehicles - to an empty parking lot and letting the coupe drift and slalom around them to say hello. According to BMW, there was a combined 11,566 horsepower on hand. It takes a pretty trusting owner to stand back and watch as a brand-new vehicle slides its tail out with the rear wheels smoking within feet of their pride and joy. Stay tuned until the end where the owners and their cars get a shout out in the credits. Scroll down to read BMW's press release about it.

BMW reveals new X5 Security Plus in Moscow

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:31:00 EST

A major player in the Russian market, BMW is heading to the Moscow Motor Show this month with a slew of local debuts... most of which we've already seen. But among all the new models making the trek from Bavaria to Moscow will be the new X5 Security Plus.
In a new-model launch that will surprise exactly no one, BMW's latest armored vehicle upgrades the X5 with enhanced protection for oligarchs against Chechen rebels, AK47-touting gangsters and missiles randomly falling on Crimean highways. Now meeting the VR6 standard of ballistic protection, the new X5 Security Plus incorporates reinforced bodywork, seats and joints, along with bulletproof glass.
Of course all that reinforcement (not to mention the jars of beluga caviar and bottles of Stoli in the glovebox) will come with a weight penalty, but the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 ought to do the trick, driving 450 horsepower through BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system to get the vehicle's occupants out of a war zone in a hurry.

VW Golf R pitted against BMW M235i in enthusiast's choice battle

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 20:00:00 EST

Most people don't have two, open spots in their garage to fit a practical daily driver and a fire-breathing performance car for the weekends. That's what makes vehicles like the latest Volkswagen Golf R and BMW M235i just about perfect for the average person. Both of these Germans can lope around as a commuter 90 percent of the time and be perfectly comfortable. However, when you want to walk in the door with a big smile on your face, you can take the back roads home and get a real thrill from them.
In his latest short video, Chris Harris from Drive tests these surprisingly comparable German performance cars. Both of them offer buyers in the neighborhood of 300 horsepower, with the BMW winning out with 320 hp. However, the Golf R gets standard all-wheel drive, which is now an option on the M235i. Harris has quite positive things to say about these Europeans, but you're going to have to watch the video to hear just what he thinks.

BMW M5 arrives in Monterey packing 600 hp and matte paint

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 19:01:00 EST

What's a sure-fire way to make a vehicle better? Well, you can add power or make it more exclusive. BMW has done both, just in time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the legendary M5 sedan.
Only 300 examples of the car you see above, the M5 30th Anniversary Edition, will be sold to the public, and those lucky owners will enjoy the most exclusive, most powerful M5 ever made. Power continues to flow from the standard M5's twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8, which has had its wick turned up to 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 now happens in just 3.7 seconds, which is still a scarcely fathomable speed among sports cars, let alone comfortable, finely upholstered sedans.
Speaking of that upholstery, Alcantara and leather seats and an Alcantara steering wheel identify the exclusive M5, while special sill plates further call out the car's unique spec. Outside, the standard Competition Package adds 20-inch wheels and black chrome badges, while 30th Anniversary Editions wear BMW's Frozen Dark Silver matte paint.