The all time bestseller of the sports-cars is coming back with a new E90 skin and M5 borrowed “internals”. The 420 bhp V8 connected to a 7-speed SMG gearbox can make us anticipate the smell of burned rubber. Have a look on what’s it gonna be!
The super-sport M-version of BMW’s E90 3-Series is scheduled for launch next year. The new M3 will be produced as coupe first, but a convertible and a sedan will be also available one year after production start. The first intention was to call the new car M4, as the new coupes were about to get even names (as the 6-Series is). But that decision was finally dropped, and we could see that the new mid-size coupes are also called 3-Series (325i and 330i respectively). On this basis both the Motorsport coupe and sedan will be called M3. Rumors are that the new coupe-cabriolet (with folding hard-top) BMW is developing will get to be called 4-Series. If that will happen, clearly an M model based on the coupe-cabriolet will be named M4.
A concept for the regular 4 Series is slated for Frankfurt in September.
Whatever the body or the name all of the mid-sized Ms will be powered by the same V8 powerplant (for the first time on a 3-Series), deriving from M5/M6’s and expected to deliver around 420 bhp. New engine building technology and lightweight materials are suppose to make the engine amazingly weigh the same as the outgoing 195 cui in-line 6 cylinder from the current E46 M3 but with considerably more power.
The M3 coupe will feature a 6 Series like glasshouse with the possibility of a new distinct interior. The front will sport a new aggressive yet subtle bumper while the rear will display quad exhausts like the new M5.
During early testing of the cabriolet version of the 3 series BMW experimented with both a normal canvas roof and a hard folding top but decided on the canvas due to weight savings and maintenance.
The new M3 coupe is slated to arrive in early 2007 with a 2006 Frankfurt debut and the M3 sedan will have a Geneva 2007 debut as a concept with sales beginning in 2008. A CSL version of the coupe is planned as well
The main competitor of the new M3 is the already highly rated Audi RS4. It is equipped with a high-rev 256 cui V8 producing 420 bhp (100 bhp/liter from an aspirated engine is a premiere for Audi). The main difference form the M3 would be that the RS4 features Audi’s famous all-wheel-drive system, the “Quattro”, while the BMW in rear-wheel drive. While the RS4 will be advantaged by drive-train on wet the BMW will compensate with high maneuverability and power-sliding abilities.
In the good tradition of BMW M, the exterior styling of the new M3 will follow the "wolf in sheep’s clothing" philosophy. The casual observer may not, at first glance, recognize the M3’s performance potential. The less casual observer instantly will.
Each M3 will use main design features from the mass-production model it is derived from, the coupe, the sedan or the convertible. All of them will share though distinctive Motorsport elements. A muscular appearance spoiler inspired from the larger M5 will be placed at the front. Sports large air intakes will supply air to the high-revving engine. As in previous models flaps (small spoiler lips on the front apron) will reduce lift coefficients.
The front panels are expected to be produced from aluminum and the side panels will be adapted to the wheel size. Emphasized sills will optimize air routing in the underbody and upgrade the dynamic qualities of the vehicle. Probably the new M3 will catch-up in wheel size with the M5 and will therefore get 19-inch wheels with traditional M double
Also for keeping with the M tradition, the exterior mirrors have a special design. As in other M models their shape, which is designed in a wind tunnel, will contribute towards the reduction of lift on the front axle.
The rear will have an extremely muscular look, thanks to a rear diffuser and flaps to the left and right of it. Also like all other M models, the M3 will boast four typical round tailpipes. The rear diffuser will fulfill a central function in underbody air routing. Together with the discrete spoiler integrated into the rear lid and the almost entirely flat underbody it will improve airflow across the underbody producing an excellent drag coefficient and a reduction in lift forces.
The new 244 cui V8 will be attained from M5’s 305 cui V10 by removing two cylinders. The 90o V8 will therefore offer maximum stiffness and minimum vibration.
It will also feature double-VANOS variable valve timing. In that each cylinder has its own electronically controlled throttle butterfly. The engine management system will use the most powerful processors currently approved for use in automobiles. It has been designed specifically to deal with the M5’s V10’s high output and high revs as well as the comprehensive controls that are required.
The driver of the new M3 will be able to maximize the potential of the new V8 engine with a seven-speed SMG gearbox offered as standard, also borrowed from the M5. Like other BMW SMG gearboxes shifts will be made from either the lever on the center console or the paddles on the steering wheel. Compared to the previous SMG, the gear changes in the new one will happen 20 percent faster, making for smooth, crisp shifts.
The gearbox will offer the Drivelogic system, already known from the M5. With that at the driver’s disposal are eleven program options that enable the SMG’s shift characteristics to be tailored to suit the driving situation and the mood. Six of these programs will be selected in the sequential manual gearbox mode (S mode). These programs adjust shifting speed and style because, in the S mode, the driver does all the shifting. In the Drive (D mode) the transmission will shift automatically, depending on which of the five programs is selected, the driving situation, the road speed and the position of the accelerator pedal.
Taken together the drive-train of the new M3 seems to be ready to deliver sheer performance. 60 miles per hour will be reached in well under five seconds and the rush of acceleration will never let up until the electronically limited top speed of 155 miles per hour.
The M3 has long been known for handling that matches its performance, carefully blended with impressive ride comfort. In order to efficiently keep power on the road on the M3 will feature the Variable M differential lock. By constantly monitoring and comparing the speed of the rear wheels, this “diff” can ensure that power gets to the drive wheel with the most traction even in extreme driving situations. Its benefits will be particularly apparent when accelerating out of a corner.
As the other M cars, the M3 will feature The M Dynamic Stability Control that, of course, will be deactivated at the push of a button. The M DSC also offers the choice of two driving dynamics programs. One allows DSC to function as in regular BMWs. The other one, the M Dynamic Mode lets DSC facilitate more spirited driving.
The suspension will be that from the 3-Series models, but with serious modifications, that will allow a lower and stiffer ride.
Front suspension:Struts, Coil Springs, Tube Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar
Rear suspension:Multi-Link, Coil Springs, Tube Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar
To complement its immense power output the M3 will feature an amply dimensioned high-performance braking system with perforated, extremely weight-optimized compound brake discs borrowed from the M5. The optimum arrangement and shape of the perforation for excellent braking properties in both wet and dry conditions is determined in stringent testing. The wheels will case 14.7 x 1.5 in brake discs at the front and 145.5 x 1 in brake discs at the rear.
The steering will be essentially the same as that on the other E90s:rack-and-pinion, with engine-speed-sensitive variable power assist. Its overall ratio will be lightly "quicker" than that on regular 3 Series models. The power assist will be calibrated for extra-firm road feel, and the steering return action will be enhanced by the increased caster.
The new M3 will boasts 225/40 ZR 19 tires at the front and even 255/35 ZR 19 tires at the rear. Those would be developed exclusively for the M3. The rubber compound and the dimensions will be designed for precise transfer of lateral and longitudinal forces in both dry and wet road conditions. The tires will also possess the respective feedback properties required to provide the driver with an optimum motoring experience.
The cockpit will be based on that of the regular 3-Series models, but it will definitely offer a lot of exclusive equipment. At least at an option the new M head-up display will show additional information, providing the driver with crucial driving information directly at eye level. This device has been designed in such a way as to allow the driver to decide for himself at the touch of a button whether he wishes to receive standard information or specific M information projected into his line of vision.
The M-specific head-up display will highlight the dynamic engine speed range, this signaling to the driver by means of shift-light function when the optimum shift point has been reached. This function is derived directly from Formula 1 racing. The display will also give information about the gear currently engaged and the vehicle speed.
The SMG selector lever will poses illuminated selector lever position indicators. The selector lever illumination and gear position indicator will be activated as soon as the ignition will be switched on. As in the M5, adjacent to the SMG selector lever, will be four buttons that will facilitate the direct operation of the driving dynamics functions Power, DSC, EDC and Drivelogic.
Other expected equipment includes adaptive cornering lights (headlights that follow the course of a bend) as well as cruise control.
Returning to the extended model range of the E36 (the only M3 offered as coupe, convertible and sedan) the new “M” is expected to offer even a new body-style, very fashionable this days, a foldable hard-top coupe-cabrio. Equipped for the first time with a V8 engine and 7-speed sequential gear-box it is expected to tire-smoke competition in the good tradition of it’s predecessors.