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BMW officially outs M3 and M4

Power of 3: The 317kW/550Nm six-cylinder engine that powers the M3 and M4 is more powerful than the outgoing model’s V8.

Smaller engines but more power for BMW’s M3 and M4 performance twins

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BMW logo12 Dec 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

BMW has released official images of its lighter, quicker M3 and M4 performance twins that will race into local showrooms in the second quarter of 2014.

The unveiling comes after weeks of leaked images and spy shots and a slow-drip teaser campaign that has lasted several months.

The German car-maker confirmed that both the four-door M3 sedan and the newly minted M4 two-door will be launched internationally at the same time, meaning no delay on the coupe.

As previously reported, BMW will eschew the naturally aspirated V8 of the previous model M cars in favour of a new 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder producing 317kW of power at 5500rpm and 550Nm of torque between 1850 and 5500rpm.

This marks an 8kW/150Nm boost over the V8-powered E92 series model. By comparison, Audi’s brutal V8 RS4 Avant produces 331kW/430Nm, while Mercedes-Benz’s soon-to-be-replaced V8 C63 AMG remains top dog, pumping out 336kW/600Nm.

To improve dynamics and fuel economy, BMW has shaved 80 kilograms off the weight of the previous 3 Series performance flagship, with the 2014 version weighing in at a lean 1497kg.

BMW achieved this through extensive use of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), with the roof, drive shaft and front strut brace all made from the material, while an aluminium bonnet and front-quarter panels have also helped keep the weight off.

According to BMW, this makes for a 25 per cent improvement in fuel economy and emissions, with an official combined European cycle figure of 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres in manual guise and 8.3L/100km with the dual clutch.

The boost in power and use of lightweight materials has, unsurprisingly, had an impact on performance, with BMW confirming both the M3 and M4 are good for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.1 seconds when matched with the seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

This slows to 4.3 seconds when combined with the standard six-speed manual gearbox which is a 0.4 second improvement over the outgoing manual model, while variants matched with the dual clutch are a full second quicker than the E92.

Audi’s hi-po RS4 wagon can cover the same distance in 4.2 seconds and the C63 AMG sedan does it in 4.8 seconds, both in automatic guise.

The top speed is an electronically limited 250km/h although this increases to 280km/h when optioned with the M Driver’s Package.

While a Launch Control function boosts performance from a standing start, BMW has included something called a ‘Smokey Burnout’ function which allows the driver engage in some rear wheel spin at low speeds.

Drivers can also alter the electromechanical steering, depending on their preference, with a choice of three modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport+.

BMW has naturally gone for an aggressive look for its performance twins, with a more pronounced front apron with three large air intakes, the signature power dome on the bonnet, M badging, quad tail-pipes and bigger, higher-set side vent.

The M3 and M4 both ride on a set of forged 18-inch alloy wheels with mixed-size tyres, while 19-inch alloys can be ordered as an option in either ‘Ferric’ grey or black.

BMW has ensured the cabin is luxurious while maintaining its performance pedigree, with an M Sport leather multifunction steering wheel, front bucket seats, 60:40 split fold rear seats and chrome trim, while the M logo features heavily throughout.

Drivers keen to analyse their driving style and sprint times can even download the BMW M Laptimer app, which can be viewed in-car by connecting the user’s phone via the car’s USB port.

The app records speed, acceleration, revs, gears, steering angle and fuel consumption which is then translated into graphic displays on the touchscreen, via the app.

The M cars feature a number of driver assistance systems, including improved 3D sat nav, the Driver Assistance Plus which warns of a pedestrian collision, enhanced active cruise control and a head-up display that shows gear display and a rev counter.

BMW GmbH president Friedrich Nitschke said the M cars were developed using motor sport technology and know-how which was put to the test at the Nordschleife circuit of the Nurburgring track.

“Four generations of the BMW M3 have blended motor sport genes and uncompromised everyday usability within an emotionally rich overall concept,” he said.

“The BMW M3 Sedan and BMW M4 Coupe represent an ongoing commitment to this philosophy. 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 exacting 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.” Local pricing and specifications will be released closer to the M twins’ launch in the seconds quarter of next year.

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