For the first time the Coupé and Saloon models receive individual model names, in deference to the different model series that provide their basis.
Another first is the adoption of a turbocharged engine for this BMW M model: the high-revving, 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology has been specifically developed for this purpose, and produces a maximum output of 431hp. Its peak torque of 550Nm is available across a very wide rev range starting at just 1,850rpm, and exceeds the figure recorded by the outgoing BMW M3 by roughly 40 per cent. In spite of this, the new engine also achieves a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions of around 25 per cent.
To maximise dynamic ability and ensure excellent efficiency, a weight loss of over 80kgs has been achieved compared to a comparably equipped predecessor model. Specific weight-saving measures include the increased use of lightweight materials: both models now feature a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof.
BMW M engineers have paid particular attention to the car’s aerodynamic performance, and incorporated the latest Active M Differential amongst numerous other technical highlights. During the development process the engineers worked closely with BMW Motorsport’s professional racing drivers, with extensive testing and set-up work carried out on the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.
With the new BMW M3 Saloon and M4 Coupé, the engineers sought to optimally channel the air around the car in the quest for ultimate performance, while also ensuring the engine, powertrain and brakes receive the requisite cooling. Even when operating under heavy loads on the racing circuit. The aggressively styled front apron, smooth under-body and the clearly defined lip spoiler at the rear of the M3 Saloon (or integrated bootlid spoiler at the rear of the BMW M4 Coupé) reduce lift by an equal amount at the front and rear axle, to the benefit of handling.
The Aero Curtain and M side gills, the latter with integrated Air Breathers minimise turbulence in the front wheel arches. These elements, together with the aerodynamically optimised side mirrors in familiar M twin-stalk style, are not only distinctive design features, they also help to reduce drag.
The new engine sees a slight power upgrade over the previous V8 to 431hp, now delivered between 5,500 and 7,300rpm, with maximum revolutions set at an unusually high figure for a turbocharged engine: 7,600rpm. Peak torque has been increased by roughly 40 per cent to 550Nm, and is maintained over a very wide rev range (1,850–5,500rpm). The standard sprint from 0-62mph takes both cars just 4.3 seconds with manual transmission, or just 4.1 seconds with the optional M DCT, while the top speed is 155mph (electronically limited). The new powerplant also boasts excellent fuel economy: the combined consumption in the EU cycle is as high as 34mpg and CO2 emissions are as low as 194g/km, an improvement of more than 25 per cent over the previous model’s figures. Regulated pollutant emissions are EU6-compliant
The Adaptive M suspension, fitted as standard for the UK market, also provides COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes, enabling the driver to choose between a more comfortable damper setting for urban driving, for example, or a stiffer set-up for dynamic driving on country roads. A third option minimises body movements and maximises dynamic performance for use on the track.
Viewed from the front, the BMW M3 Saloon and BMW M4 Coupé have a powerfully expressive ‘face’, with a modern take on the twin headlight arrangement and a distinctive double-slat kidney grille with M designation. The aggressive front apron, with its trio of large intakes, supplies cooling air to the engine and brakes. Among the other hallmark BMW M design features is the characteristic powerdome on the bonnet, which hints at the potential of the muscular M TwinPower Turbo engine and creates space for the intercooler. The twin-stalk side mirrors are another classic BMW M design feature.
The sides of both cars clearly show the hallmark BMW proportions of a long bonnet, long wheelbase, set back glasshouse and short front overhang, further emphasised by familiar M design elements. The new M side gills perform both a stylistic and a functional role: integrated into them are Air Breathers, which team up with the Aero Curtains in the front apron to help optimise the airflow around the wheel arches and therefore improve aerodynamics.
The dark colour of the CFRP roof (with its contoured roofline) gives both models a lower-slung and more compact appearance, as the eye perceives the roof pillars – painted in body colour – to be the uppermost point of the car. A flowing roofline then gains in momentum once again as it heads rearwards, increasing aerodynamic downforce and giving the rear a more muscular look at the same time.
At the rear, there are greater differences in the two models. The BMW M3 Saloon is fitted with a lip spoiler to reduce lift, while the tailgate of the BMW M4 Coupé features an integrated rear spoiler and is made from a carbon-fibre compound.
Both models feature prominently flared rear wheel arches, which, in combination with the wide track, give the cars a very purposeful stance. The high-gloss pair of twin exhaust tailpipes are framed by the sculptural rear apron with its integrated diffuser.
Inside, drivers will be greeted by the interior architecture prioritising unimpeachable ergonomics and a clear driver focus. However, the emphasis has naturally been put on an even more sporting ambience. There are a host of traditional BMW M equipment details, including M door sill finishers, M gearshift lever, M design circular instruments with white graphics, M leather steering wheel (with M logo, chrome trim and iconic triple-colour contrast stitching) and metallic shift paddles (if the M DCT gearbox is specified). The BMW Individual headlining is finished in Anthracite.
The bespoke front seats take inspiration from the bucket seats fitted in racing cars, and feature a full-size single-piece back panel. This means the construction of the seats is very flat, while the high, width-adjustable side bolsters and low-set seat surface allow an ideal seating position and provide excellent support. Despite this, these BMW M seats also include electric adjustment and heating as standard. On the seat surface, the stitching, upholstery segmentation and perforation lend the seats a slim-fitting feel, whilst the BMW M logo on the seat is illuminated for the first time.
Like the front seats, the distinctively contoured backrests of the rear seats also offer exceptional lateral support: they are made from a lightweight composite material and can be folded in a 60:40 split. This gives the BMW M3 and BMW M4 a level of everyday usability that is well beyond the norm for high-performance sports cars.
The new BMW M3 Saloon and new BMW M4 Coupé possess an extensive list of standard equipment, which reflects their performance-oriented character but also their excellent everyday usability. The UK specification has been enhanced substantially from the predecessor model with a number of additions; these include technical features such as Adaptive M suspension, 19-inch M light alloy wheels and front and rear PDC; comfort items such as the heated and electric BMW M seats and exterior-folding mirrors; aesthetic features such as High-gloss Shadowline exterior trim and finally the full BMW Professional Media package with upgraded Bluetooth system.
In addition, customers can choose from a broad range of optional equipment to give the cars either an additional sporting edge, or boost comfort levels further still. For those buyers wishing to personalise their cars yet further, the wide-reaching spectrum of BMW Individual – including BMW Individual paint finishes, BMW Individual Merino leather and BMW Individual interior trim elements – will be available later in 2014.