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Car reviews - BMW - 3 Series - M3 coupe


13 Jun 2002

WITHIN the garden variety confines of M division's new generation M54B32 inline, six-cylinder engine lurk the results of some of the most formidable engineering feats ever offered in a production car. Of course, there is BMW's trademark "double VANOS" variable intake and exhaust cam timing, but the raw figures belie the DOHC/24-valve six-pack's familiar configuration. Increased just 1.4 per cent over its predecessor, the capacity of the M3 engine has grown to 3.246 litres, yet peak power has increased 6.9 per cent (to 252kW at a phenomenal 7900rpm) and torque is up by 4.3 per cent (to 365Nm at 4900rpm). Specific power output has also increased from 74kW to almost 78kW per litre - a figure few non-turbo/supercharged production engines can better. Obtained largely through revs (with cut-out now set at 8000rpm), the extra power does not come at the expense of torque, with no less than 80 per cent of maximum torque available at just 2000rpm. Of course, this translates to blistering straightline performance, including a supercar-like 5.2-second 0-100km/h figure and, more importantly, 80-120km/h fourth gear acceleration of just 5.4 seconds. Despite the performance, economy is even more outstanding than its predecessor's at just 10.8 litres per 100km. The single downside in this department is M3's diet of 98-octane fuel, although adaptive knock control ensures it will cope with regular 95-octane premium unleaded.

Did you know?

The pistons in the new M3 move at more than 24 metres per second at maximum revs of 8000rpm.The crankshaft in a modern Formula One engine rotates up to 18,000 times a minute, each of the pistons covering about 25 metres per second

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