The BMW M3 has been tearing up racetracks and back roads since its introduction in 1983. Its small size, nimble handling, and powerful engines have propelled the two- and four-door sports car into the hearts of hotshoe drivers and hall-of-fames everywhere.
The M3’s many changes over the years have never seem to hurt its sparkling reputation, although some models are more sough-after than others. The outgoing 4.0-liter V-8, for instance – was something not quite befitting the M3 badge. Power? Yes, it had it, but delivery was never as smooth or predictable as the legendary 3.2-liter inline 6 cylinders of the E36 and E46 model M3s.
So when it came time BMW rework its premiere sports sedan, judicious marksmanship was needed to hit the intended target labeled ‘perfection.’ Follow along as we dive deep into the all-new 2015 BMW M3.
Update 12/17/2013: This review has been updated with all of the official specs and images.
Updated 01/15/2014: BimmerFestreports today that on the U.S. market the M3 will be priced from $62,000, not including $925 destination and handling. If these prices are for real, then the new M3 will priced pretty much identical to the old M3 sedan.
Hit the jump to read more about the future BMW M3.
Rendering Vs. Reality
We created our rendering back in September 2013, and despite not seeing much of the actual model, it was not too hard to decipher what the new M3 would look like. All we had to do was take the revised 3 Series Sedan and add in the typical M elements, like the five twin-spoke wheels, an aggressive front apron and hood and some ground effects. Comparing our rendering to the actual leaked images shows that our artist was on the money with his vision of the M3.
The exterior is beautifully BMW. It’s a solid evolution in the 3-Series line that will certainly age well. The look is certainly one of understated aggression that combines the calm demeanor of a normal car with the menacing snarl of a true M3.
Four real doors with useable interior space means the M3 can accommodate three friends on the ride of their lives. The pictures, however, speak for themselves.
Looking deeper, we see many exterior additions to the M3 the standard 3-Series
"The M Dynamic Mode, a sub function of the DSC system, allows for more wheel slippage and yaw rates than normally acceptable. Let the hooning commence."
simply lacks. A huge front apron, smooth underbelly, and Gurney rear spoiler keep the air moving properly around the car. Downforce is also a key reason for the exterior accoutrements. Past the front grille, air is purposefully directed beyond mere cooling reasons. Air is channeled through the engine oil cooler and creates a Venturi effect that reduces front axle lift, which in turn, improves steering.
Twin-stalk style side mirrors and integrated air breathers (the vertical M gills) reward of the front wheels help move air round the car without creating turbulence or drag.
Old M3 Vs. New M3
The BMW feel and flair that become standard on 3 Series is alive and well in the new M3. A carbon-fiber dash insert, the tri-spoke steering wheel and the infotainment system are all familiar. Details, like the M-designed door sills, dead pedal, gearshift lever, leather steering wheel with chrome trim and circular instruments with white graphics, give an upscale and sportier appearance.
Strong bolstering in the front seats keep occupants snugly in place and are completely adjustable. Power operation and heating elements are still available for those looking for the touches of comfort, while twisting through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca. Four adults are able to ride without issue, although there are better sedans available for long distance travels.
2014 BMW M3 - Interior Dimensions\
|Headroom (Front / Rear)||TBA / TBA|
|Legroom (Front / Rear)||TBA / TBA|
|Shoulder Room (Front / Rear)||TBA / TBA|
|Hip Room (Front / Rear)||TBA / TBA|
Under the hood is where BMW engineers made some unexpected changes. M3s of yore were powered by perhaps the sweetest inline six-cylinder engines to ever grace an engine bay. Naturally aspirated with a crazy high redline, the legendary 3.2-liter I-6 made 333 horsepower and could propel and E46 M3 from naught to 60 mph in roughly 4.5 seconds.
BMW has taken a page from the history books, combined it with the latest forced-induction technology of the 21st century, and introduced its next step in in-line engines: the 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged I-6, coded the S55.
BMW says the new engine produces 425 horsepower from 5,500 to 7,300 rpm and 406 pound-feet of torque from a low 1,850 through 5,500 rpm. Those numbers haven’t been validated yet, but we imagine they are close to reality. The M TwinPower Turbo engine also boasts a lighter weight than the outgoing 4.0-liter V-8 and a 25-percent increase in fuel economy.
Two transmission options are available: a standard six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed M Double Clutch transmission. Both transmissions have electronic features that make any driver look like a professional driver. The six-speed has an automatic throttle-blip system, much like that of the 2014 Corvette C7’s Rev Match system, that gooses the throttle within the split seconds between gears during a downshift, increasing smoothness of shifts.
The M-DCT is the techo-buff’s choice. Lighting fast shifts in manual mode enables shifts without an interruption of power to the wheels. Integrated Launch Control helps get the M3 off the line without fuss. Once underway, Stability Clutch Control helps redirect the car if understeer is detected by opening up the clutch to bring it back in line. Drivelogic is also standard of the M-DCT and offers different driver-selectable modes ranging from comfort and economy to sport and track settings.
Dividing up all the power is BMW’s Active M Differential, which uses an electronically
"Handling should be superb with very little play, but will be on the harsh side with little forgiveness on rough surfaces or speed bumps."
controlled, multi-plate, limited-slip setup designed to lay power down most effectively. Its takes into account the throttle position, rotational speed of the wheels, steering angle, and the car’s yaw rate – all coming from the Dynamic Stability Control system. The systems work as a whole to get the M3 moving quickly out of corners, even with less than ideal surface conditions. Thankfully, BMW gives enthusiasts the ability to turn the system into a less-intrusive mode. The M Dynamic Mode, a sub function of the DSC system, allows for more wheel slippage and yaw rates than normally acceptable. Let the hooning commence.
Keeping all that technology cool on race day can be a challenge, but one the BMW engineers met some serious solutions. Perched alongside the turbo is an indirect intercooler that maximizes charger pressure. Besides the main radiator, the M3 is also cooled by a water cooler positioned to the side of the high- and low-temperature water circuits, along with the engine and transmission oil coolers. The turbos get their own electronic water pump that keeps the bearing mounts from frying while the M3 is stationary.
At the end of the day, the M-DCT-equipped M3 hits 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds to the 4.1-second sprint of the six-speed-equipped model.
2014 BMW M3 - Drivetrain Specifications
|Engine Type||3.0-Liter I-6 Turbocharged|
|Engine Technology||M TwinPower Turbo technology with two mono-scroll turbochargers, High Precision Direct Fuel Injection, fully variable valve timing (VALVETRONIC) and variable camshaft control (Double-VANOS)|
|Output (HP @ RPM)||425 @ 5500–7300|
|Torque (LB-FT @ RPM)||406 @ 1,850–5,500|
|Transmission||Six-speed manual gearbox (optional: Seven-speed Double Clutch Transmission)|
|Acceleration (0-60 MPH)||4.1 Sec (W/ Manual) / 3.9 Sec. (W/ M-DCT)|
|Top Speed||155 mph|
What lies underneath the new M3 is just as impressive as the drivetrain, if not more so. Low weight and high rigidity topped BMW’s list for essential inclusions for all the suspension and axle components.
The double-joint spring struts, control arms, wheel carriers, and axle subframes all use a lightweight aluminum construction. Five kilograms (about 11 pounds) are gone in the front axle alone when compared to the outgoing unit. Play-free ball joints and elastomeric bearings work with a rubber-bushing-free, five-link rear suspension to keep things tight.
Those missing rubber bushings are a mixed blessing. Handling should be superb with very little play, but will be on the harsh side with little forgiveness on rough surfaces or speed bumps. Such a compromise might relegate the M3 to more of a track-only car rather than the perfect all-rounder the past models were known to be.
Besides the missing rubber bushings, the rear axle is also short three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of weight as well. The control arms and wheel carriers are manufactured using forged aluminum, as are the 18-inch and optional 19-inch wheels. The reduced unsprung mass is said to improve handling without compromising the ride comfort, but we have our doubts about such claims.
The all-new CTS Vsport takes the place of the outgoing CTS-V sedan — so we assume — and it is one of the M3’s key competitors. It makes use of a 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged engine that cranks out 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. Sure, that’s a little lower than the M3 and its estimated 4.6-second 0-to-60 mph time will likely be a little slower than the M3’s sprint. Then again, we love the new look of the CTS, whereas the M3’s look is a little aged, despite its mild refresh.
Gallery Cadillac CTS Sedan
The 2014 C63 AMG is not on the market yet, but Mercedes-Benz has outlined the new C63 AMG "Edition 507." It checks in with a 6.3-liter, V-8 engine that churns out 507 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 450 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. This, combined with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT seven-speed sports transmission, launches the speedy Benz sedan to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and up to a top speed of 174 mph.
Gallery Mercedes C 63 AMG "Edition 507"
The BMW M3 has been a staple of two- and four-door performance for over 25 years, and this latest version is an evolution of that. BMW did not reinvent the wheel with the 2015 M3, but rather made improvements where they were needed. Carbon Fiber and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics find their way into the sedan to the benefit of weight-savings and rigidity.
The decision to introduce the two-door 4 Series and its subsequent M4 will leave the M3 to thunder around with four complete doors for the foreseeable future, while the M4 will likely see many tuners gravitating towards the smaller car for hard-core track tuning. Either way, we’re glad BMW split up the models and created some much-needed consistency within their model lineup.
- New straight-six engine
- An updated look to bring the M3 current with the rest of the 3 Series lineup
- Awesome suspension setup that is rigid and track-ready
- The redesign is very light and already looks aged to us
- Rough ride, due to the revised suspension
Gallery BMW M3
UPDATE 07/08/2011: The British magazine AutoExpress has revealed new details about the upcoming generation BMW M3 set to be released in 2014. It seems that the new BMW M3 will be powered by a fresh 3.3-liter six-cylinder engine equipped with three turbos – one powered by electricity, rather than the exhaust gases. Output will be around 450 horsepower (up from the current output of 420 horsepower). The body will feature a mix of steel and ultra-light carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.
UPDATE 08/16/2011: Three turbos? Not so, says Autocar, whose sources are telling them that the future M3 will feature a new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that is currently under development. This source describes the new engine "as being heavily differentiated from the company’s existing twin-turbocharged ‘N54’ and twin-scroll turbocharged ‘N55’ 3.0-liter engines." Apparently, the new engine will come with a management system, induction system, cylinder head, pistons, and connecting rods. We were kind of pumped about the three turbos so we’ll just have to wait and see what develops.
UPDATE 11/03/2011: BMW has filed a new patent for an electric-powered turbocharger, bringing back the old rumors about a new 3.3-liter six-cylinder engine equipped with three turbos. Hit the jump for details on this new technology! (F30Post)
UPDATE 05/22/2012: President of BMW North America, Mr. Ludwig Willisch has finally confirmed that the next M3 will feature an in-line-six layout - the same layout that will be used for the M4.
Willisch also said that, at some point, BMW was indeed considering a V6 engine for the next M3, but in the end, this choice was dropped. What he didn’t specify was whether or not the new inline-6 engine will get bi-turbo or tri-turbo. Regardless of the technology, the future M3 will deliver at least 450 horsepower.
Ludwig Willisch also confirmed that the next M3 will be lighter, faster, more powerful, and more efficient than the current M3. It will be offered with an optional or standard manual transmission.
Updated 08/13/2013: BMW has dropped a teaser video of the upcoming M3 sports sedan. The video offers us the first listen to the new straight-six engine.
Updated 08/28/2013: Our spy photographers caught the 2014 M3 out testing again, but this time, it is wearing very little camo. Basically, BMW only covered up its M styling goodies and the new to-the-grille headlights. You can see the newest spy shots after the jump.
Updated 9/5/2013: Since our rendering of the M3 Sedan was getting a little long in the tooth, we decided to make up a new one for you to drool over. Essentially, it borrows all of the M4 styling elements — bumpers, side skirts, mirrors, wheels, side vent, hood vent, black kidney grilles and roof — scaled down to a 3 Series. Additionally, we updated the rendering with the forward-leaning grille and the to-the-grille headlights. You can see the rendering above and a side-by-side comparison of the old and new renderings after the jump.
Updated 9/25/2013: BMW officially confirmed today the numbers for the new in-line six-cylinder engine that will be used for the new M3. Click past the jump to learn more about it.
Updated 12/11/2013: The first official images of the new BMW M3 Sedan leaked online today, just before the car’s official debut tomorrow morning. The images came from BMW Blog, which was asked to remove them, but it was a little bit too late. Click past the jump to see what the new M3 Sedan offers.
The new generation BMW M3 features a completely redesigned front look, with a black kidney grilles surrounded in chrome and larger front air intakes, and of course, a redesigned hood that features a power dome.
As rumored, the new M3 will get indeed a carbon fiber roof to help keep the center of gravity low.
The rear is also revised, and includes a new bumper with a redesigned diffuser and a quad-tailpipe exhaust system that is sure to deliver on hell of a sweet note.
There is also new, five twin-spoke alloy wheels combined with gold brake calipers peeking from behind.
The launch of the new BMW M3 Sedan and new BMW M4 Coupe sees BMW M GmbH revealing an all-new interpretation of the high-performance sports car – and carrying the BMW M philosophy over into the fifth generation of the M3. More than 40,000 examples of the fourth-generation BMW M3 Coupe were built, and now the BMW M4 Coupe is poised to continue this history of success. The “M4” badge is a reference to the model series that provides the basis for the new M model. And for the first time, the Coupe will be introduced at the same time as the four-door variant, which logic dictates will be christened the BMW M3.
“Four generations of the BMW M3 have blended motor sport genes and uncompromised everyday usability within an emotionally rich overall concept;” explains Dr Friedrich Nitschke, President BMW M GmbH. “The BMW M3 Sedan and BMW M4 Coupe represent an ongoing commitment to this philosophy. The engine is the heart of every M model, and the example fitted in the two new cars combines the virtues of a high-revving naturally aspirated unit with the strengths of turbocharger technology. An all-embracing lightweight design concept keeps the cars’ weight to just under 1,500 kilograms. The BMW M3 and BMW M4 take motor sport technology from the track to the road, and thousands of laps of the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife – the world’s most demanding race track – have readied the new models for that transition. Meticulous and passion-fuelled development work has underpinned the creation of two high-performance sports cars that set new standards in terms of overall concept, precision and agility.”
The high-revving six-cylinder in-line engine with BMW M TwinPower Turbo technology newly developed for the new BMW M3 Sedan and BMW M4 Coupe produces maximum output of approximately 430 hp. Its peak torque soars far beyond 500 Newton metres (369 lb-ft), outstripping the figures recorded by the outgoing BMW M3 by well over 30 per cent. And yet the engine also achieves a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions of around 25 per cent. The weight of the cars has been reduced to just under 1,500 kilograms, which helps to ensure outstanding driving dynamics and exceptional efficiency.