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Driven: Competition drives BMW M3, M4 growth

Stiff competition: Sales of the M3 and M4 are up this year compered with 2014 and the Competition variants are likely to keep momentum up.

Sales record set to smash this year thanks to BMW’s M3 and M4 Competition

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BMW logo21 Jul 2016

BMW Australia is banking on a take-up rate of 84 per cent for the Competition variants of its M3 and M4 launching locally this week as the sedan, two-door coupe and drop-top performance models head towards a record sales haul.

Offered with a $5000 premium over the M3 sedan and M4 Coupe, at $144,615 and $154,615 plus on-road costs for each Competition respectively, and $4000 over the M4 convertible at $165,615 (which lacks performance seat additions) the range will be further bolstered by a 30-unit ‘30 Years M3’ sedan at $154,615.

Competition variants come with significant changes to the suspension and even electronic systems of the current F8x-generation of M-cars (including F80 M3 sedan, and F82/83 M4 Coupe/Convertible) that launched only two years ago.

While it arrives after a shorter period of time compared with the previous-generation Competition that made similar alterations four years into its lifecycle, BMW Group Australia managing director Marc Werner insisted that the reduced timeframe was not in response to criticism of the current M3 and M4 range but rather more demanding market conditions.

“There was nothing wrong from the beginning (of M3 and M4) but we as BMW and in particular BMW M like to refine our products on a constant basis,” Mr Werner told GoAuto at the national media launch of the BMW M3 and M4 Competition in northern New South Wales.

“BMW M customers … they always look out for something new so you always have to be on the forefront in terms of product innovation or product technology and so on.

“From a product lifecycle impulse point of view you have to offer something new on a regular basis and that’s what we are doing with the Competition.”

Asked whether there was increased pressure to release new models for buyers today, Mr Werner replied: “I would agree with that statement.”

Despite the forecast that only 16 per cent of buyers will continue to choose non-Competition variants, BMW Australia head of product planning Shawn Ticehurst said there was no current plan to cull the cheaper models.

“We can offer both and it’s good to offer the customers that choice,” Mr Ticehurst said.

“It’s something we’re happy to do and we’ll continue to do in the short term.

If in the long term it turns out that 100 per cent of orders are Competition pack then we’ll listen to the market and keep the other models.”

He also pointed to the importance of retaining the 16 percent of buyers who were not choosing the Competition models as the upswing in M3 and M4 sales continues this year, rising 24 per cent to 476 sales by June 2016.

It places the models on track to exceed 2015’s record tally of 743 units, which was spurred by BMW’s shock decision to wipe $17,000 from the recommended retail price of both the M3 and M4 six months into that year.

The previous M3’s best full year was 2008 with 490 sales.

Mr Ticehurst further suggested that some M3 and M4 buyers would want the black, smaller 19-inch wheels of the standard car rather than the 20-inch wheels on the Competition models.

Other Competition highlights include 15 per cent stiffer springs with retuned adaptive dampers, recalibrated stability control and rear M differential, a new exhaust system, gloss-black exterior detailing and M light sports seats.

The four-door-only M3 Jahre 30 – German for 30 Years M3 – costs $154,615 with BMW Australia pleased to have secured the same 30-unit allocation as the UK of 500 units built worldwide.

The Jahre 30 includes the aforementioned features, and all examples are painted in original-M3 Macao Blue with carbon-fibre interior trim strip, unique Merino leather trim, a numbered cabin plaque and unique badging.

The M3/M4 Competition and the M3 Jahre 30 share the same 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine that benefits from a 14kW power hike over the regular M3/M4 to 331kW. It takes its crescendo at 6000rpm compared with 5500rpm in the standard car.

Although the 550Nm produced between 1850rpm and 5500rpm remains unchanged, a greater amount of torque is produced beyond that rev band including 525Nm at 6000rpm (versus 500Nm in the standard car).

Together with 10mm-wider rear tyres (now 285mm across) the Competition models of M3 sedan and M4 coupe claim a one-tenth-quicker 4.0-sec 0-100km/h claim in seven-speed dual-clutch automatic guise.

Each no-cost option six-speed manual – which among buyers has a take up rate of between 1.5 per cent (M3) and 2.6 per cent (M4) – adds back two-tenths to each claim, including for the auto M4 Convertible’s 4.3s 0-100km/h.

BMW has sold 1497 M3 and M4 models since its July 2014 launch, 700 of which have been customers new to the BMW brand, 90 per cent of which were male, while the majority (32 per cent) were aged between 41 and 50 years.

2016 BMW M Competition pricing*
M3 Competition Sedan (a)$144,615
M4 Competition Coupe (a)$154,615
M4 Competition Convertible (a)$165,615
*Excludes on-road costs

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