RAC Cars News


New BMW M3 First Drive

By raccars Published

Racing star Timo Glock takes RAC Cars out for a fast blast in a prototype of the brand new M3, months before the production version is revealed; M division briefs us on the new M4 Coupe too – both cars coming in early 2014…

BMW will launch a new M3 saloon and M4 Coupe at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2014. Powered by a new 430hp 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six engine, the new cars may not have the wailing, high-revving 4.0-litre V8 of the models they replace, but they still manage to produce more power. They’re greener too – and consume a full 25 per cent less fuel.

The firm hasn't released final specifications of the new cars yet, but the crack M division of BMW did invite RAC Cars to Munich for a technical preview, to show why the new M3 saloon and M4 Coupe are both models to look forward to. Here are some highlights from the presentation…

They are compromise-free turbo cars

BMW M cars are traditionally high-revving machines – turbo cars traditionally are not. BMW M has solved this, and says the M3 and M4 Coupe will rev to more than 7500rpm. Turbo lag will also be minimal thanks to a new BMW-specific technology.

They will provide a different driving experience to before

The new M3 and M4 Coupe have much more torque than before – at least 368lb ft instead of 295lb ft. This is produced across a far wider rev range, too. It means the new motor will pull far harder, far more quickly; the cars are thus going to feel significantly more potent.

They are lightweight and made from racing-inspired materials

Both M3 and M4 Coupe have a carbon fibre reinforced plastic roof, which lowers the centre of gravity. They have aluminium wings and bonnet, and the M4 Coupe has a carbon fibre mix bootlid. The suspension is forged aluminium, and even the oil sump is magnesium. Result? A kerb weight of less than 1.5 tonnes.

They use a lot of bespoke engineering

The engine is not a tuned-up BMW engine but a bespoke M-developed engine. The suspension layout is completely different. Major mechanical parts are different. Wider wheels mean new body panels – even the way the rear suspension is attached to the car is different. All in the pursuit of a sportier drive.

They can average more than 35mpg

Because the downsized engine is so much more efficient, M engineers say that an M3 or M4 Coupe that’s driven at the same speed as other traffic could average over 35mpg – way more than the old V8 M3. Sub-200g/km CO2 emissions are also expected. Fast, then, but very green with it.

BMW then let us experience the new M3 out on track. Former F1 driver and current BMW DTM star Timo Glock was behind the wheel; we can report the new M3 sounds the business (the six-cylinder noise is smooth and harmonious) and feels very, very fast indeed. The surging response out of bends is a whole level above the old car, while the way it turns into them also feels very sharp and dynamic.

It’s hard to tell too much from the passenger seat, but we learnt enough to know this feels the real deal, alright. A very fast and focused car that fully deserves its performance car status.

RAC Cars verdict

The new BMW M3 and M4 Coupe promise to be sharper, faster and more focused than ever. The engine is smaller and more fuel efficient, yes, but it’s a lot more potent and also likely to be far more rewarding to use. The level of engineering that has gone into these cars is enormous and we feel very confident the results are going to be worth it.

Early next year, we’ll find out for sure… stay tuned to hear more about the exciting new BMW M3 and M4 Coupe.

In the meantime, here are five BMW M cars you can buy now…

2007 BMW M3 V8 Prices from: £19,000

The M3 V8 delivers brilliant performance from its M-designed V8 engine, particularly at the 8400rpm redline! 420hp and a bespoke M-built chassis provides entertainment way beyond today’s sub-£20k price tag.

2011 BMW M5 V8 Prices from: £50,000

The latest BMW M5 uses a turbocharged V8 engine and is a highly sophisticated machine to drive. Performance is crushing and its abilities are world-class – making the £50k price tag for a two-year old car something of a steal.

2006 BMW M6 V10 Prices from: £20,000

The previous generation BMW M6 used a fiendishly complicated F1-style 5.0-litre V10 engine, for fantastic performance and a distinctive feel behind the wheel. Prices down to £20,000 mean it is an enormous amount of car for the money.

2011 BMW1 Series M Coupe Prices from: £36,000

The BMW 1 Series M Coupe was the first turbocharged BMW M car worthy of the badge and is already a cult classic. It’s a sensational car to drive and is enough of an icon to ensure prices remain firm. Buy one and keep it for life.

2004 BMW M3 (the affordable M car) Prices from: £12,995

You can get a great BMW M car with the RAC Cars seal of approval without spending a fortune: a 2004 BMW E46 M3 can be found with a full warranty and dealer check for less than £13,000. It’s a brilliant car for the money.

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