[14] Bmw 2015 M3 Becomes This Month Discuss

The M3 is perhaps the most legendary of BMWs, but it wasn’t until 1994 that the M3 was a sedan. Now, a sedan is the only M3, as the coupe version of the car seen here now goes by the name M4. (Read all about our first experience with that car here.)

But really, it’s the same as the M4. Maybe BMW thought that, if they were going to enrage people by calling the coupe an M4, they’d keep as many similarities to the M3 as possible. No, you can’t get an M3 with two doors. But you can get an M3 that is basically the same car as the coupe you want. Both are 184.5 inches long and sit on a 110.7-inch wheelbase. For the first time, the M3 sedan—a word pairing that is now redundant—gets a carbon-fiber roof, helping keep the curb weights for the two cars within a couple of platters of Schweinshaxe, the pig “knuckles” that are so popular in Bavaria. The company claims the sedan is just 10 pounds heavier than the coupe.

It’s a little wider than the M4—0.3 inch—but its gnarly fender flares are a lot meaner, and are most of the reason we prefer the look of the sedan. It’s 1.7 inches taller, which might raise its center of gravity ever so slightly higher than the M4’s, but the handling difference is minimal. Both are complete hooligans, and by the time our first encounter with the car was over at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal, the track was tattooed with black arcs marking not necessarily the quickest line through the corners, but definitely the most fun one. Both cars have a superb handling balance, with enough action at the rear axle to keep the driver on his or her toes.

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Can’t Rock this Cradle

Thank the rear suspension cradle for the precise handling. The F30 3-series sedan’s is attached with four big rubber donuts aimed at isolating the cabin from vibration and harsh impacts. There are no donuts in the M3 diet except for those that you do late at night before the cops show up. The direct attachment of the subframe to the unibody enables much sharper and more immediate handling than in non-M 3-series. The new electric-assist steering is likewise sharp and immediate, but none of its three progressively heavier settings (Comfort, Sport, and Sport +) offer anything in the way of road feel. Nevertheless, it is otherwise so good that we feel a little guilty complaining. While we’re at it, though, we’ll also note that the brakes are a touch soft at the top of the pedal, although once you move the pedal a bit farther, it firms up and the binders stop the car like a cartoon donkey digging its hooves into the dirt.

Turbo Encapsulator

Another thing we have a hard time complaining about is the engine. A lot of M faithful are bothered by the fact that it’s a turbocharged engine, when M3s have always had naturally aspirated engines. But we assure you that the people in charge of developing the F80 are no less in love with the M3 than the people who buy them. It’s a concession to fuel-economy and emissions regulations, but that’s the only way in which it’s a concession. Yes, redline does drop from the old 4.0-liter V-8’s 8400 rpm to 7600, but that’s awfully high for any engine, turbocharged or not. And it hits peak torque at just 1850 rpm, 2050 earlier than the old V-8. M faithful, if max engine speed must drop, would you accept a few more horsepower and a 38-percent increase in torque as consolation prizes? Compared to the E90, that’s what the new M3’s S55 inline-six’s 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet represent. The twin-turbo shares no major parts but its head with any other BMW engine.

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At almost any engine speed, the six presses the driver into his seat, and there’s no taper to the power at high rpm. The full-bodied soundtrack is surprisingly, satisfyingly loud, thanks to a couple of butterfly valves in the exhaust that almost completely bypass the muffler under load. Synthesized engine noise is piped through the car’s speakers at low engine speeds, but fades away under heavy load or at high speed. If you’re worried that you’re being fooled by the big-bore roar inside the car, sitting on the pit wall while an M3 takes off will prove that the synthesized sound is an insignificant part of the overall aural signature.

Two Clutches, Three Settings, One Choice

Transmission choices are a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or a six-speed manual, but only the DCT was available to us for this first drive. It, too, has three severity settings, but it seems like BMW might have oversimplified here. The more-relaxed settings don’t just soften shifts, they slow the response time of the shift paddles. So in the beginner modes, you pull the paddle and wait before the shift occurs. If you want shifts now, you will have to be OK with hard shifts. Even without firsthand experience, we’ll go ahead and assume that the manual is better. Figure on 0-to-60 times of roughly four seconds flat with either.

And figure on a base price of $62,925 for the manual. Then figure on a $2900 upcharge for the dual-clutch. Finally, you should figure on the only remaining M3, the one with four doors, being a satisfying torchbearer for the nameplate.

Specifications

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

BASE PRICE: $62,925

ENGINE TYPE: twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 182 cu in, 2979 cc
Power: 425 hp @ 7300 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1850 rpm

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 7-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 110.7 in
Length: 184.5 in
Width: 73.9 in Height: 56.1 in
Curb weight: 3600 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 4.0-4.2 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 8.7-8.9 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.2-12.4 sec
Top speed: 155 mph

FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
EPA city/highway driving: 18-20/28-30 mpg


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