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Car reviews - BMW - 3 Series - M3 sedan

Launch Story

9 Dec 2008

HIGH-REVVING M3 power is available for the first time in Australia in sedan form following BMW’s move to broaden the appeal of the prestige sportscar beyond a two-door bodystyle.

Launched in Victoria this week, the M3 sedan also gives BMW a vehicle with which to counter the Mercedes-Benz C63 and Lexus IS F sedans. While these two rivals are only available in four-door form, the 309kW M3 is now available as a coupe, sedan and convertible.

Starting from $145,000, the new sedan is the least expensive of the M3 line-up, compared with the coupe at $162,901 and the convertible, with its folding metal hard-top, at $176,142. Price-wise, the M3 sedan also lands in between the $126,900 IS F and $146,271 C63.

While BMW has produced M3 sedans before, none of them have made it to Australia.

The M3 sedan is essentially the same as the M3 coupe, barring a few small differences. Despite its two extra doors and larger boot, the five-seater M3 weighs just 25kg more than its coupe sibling for a total of 1605kg.

The weight difference would be even smaller if the sedan had a carbon-fibre roof like the coupe, but it has to make do with one made from regular steel.

When tested from 0-100km/h, the M3 sedan is slower, but only by 0.1 seconds. That means the M3 sedan is able to dash from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds with a regular manual or 4.7 seconds with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The M3 sedan and coupe share the same wheelbase of 2761mm and the same track measurements of 1540mm at the front and 1539mm at the rear. Measurements from nose to tail show the sedan is 35mm shorter (4580mm) and 29mm taller (1447mm) than the coupe.

BMW has given the M3 sedan the same front-end as the M3 coupe, including the bulging bonnet and guards with prominent brake vents.

The sedan’s suspension set-up is essentially the same as the coupe’s with some very minor differences to account for the extra weight and dimensions.

There are also two extra reinforcements for the rear anti-roll bars, but the general set-up is the same, including the MacPherson strut front and five-link rear configuration, both of which use aluminium components.

This set-up is 2.5kg lighter than the equivalent sedan suspension thanks to the lightweight materials and innovations such as hollow anti-roll bars.

M3 sedan customers can also option the $4000 Electronic Damper Control (EDC) system, which allows for electro-hydraulic adjustment of the dampers to limit bodyroll and to help reduce pitching and diving under acceleration and braking.

The powertrain of the M3 sedan is exactly the same as the M3 coupe and convertible. That means it runs the tremendous 4.0-litre all-alloy V8 which manages to produce 309kW at 8300rpm. Its torque figure is not as prodigious as those of its larger-capacity rivals, reading 400Nm at 3900rpm.

There is no doubt the M3’s quad-cam V8 is a screamer, and you can wind it all the way out to 8400rpm. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, while the dual-clutch automatic is a hefty option at $7300.

Fuel consumption figures for the M3 sedan come in at 12.4L/100km for the automatic and 11.9L/100km for the dual-clutch auto, which is exactly the same as the coupe.

Like the coupe, the sedan also benefits from a rear limited-slip differential which can provide up to 100 per cent locking action when required.

The latest generation of electronic stability control, which includes the priming of brake pressure in case it is required, is standard. This can be switched off completely.

There is no intermediate setting for the stability control in the standard M3, but customers can purchase the M Drive package for $3500, which unlocks an intermediate stability control setting along with more aggressive throttle actuation and a firmer steering feel.

The M3 sedan sits on the same 18-inch alloy wheels as the coupe and convertible.

All 3 Series models, including the M versions, now benefit from a new 8.8-inch information display screen and new iDrive controller.

BMW appears to have attended to criticism of the previous roller-ball iDrive controller, switching to a new circular controller which operates by being nudged sideways or up and down. There is also a collection of buttons in front of the controller in case the user wants to make a shortcut.

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