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The M is back


Some 28 years ago, the idea of creating a hot version of the BMW 3 Series was devised by then-managing director of BMW, Paul Rosche. Just a few short months later the world was introduced to the M3 and we all know what those two iconic characters mean to petrolheads everywhere.

Now there is a new version and along with it a new naming structure. There will still be an M3, although should you want one, resign to the fact that it will have four doors. Those seeking the sleek profile of a two-door will have to opt for the new M4 Coupé.

The fifth generation of this iconic sports car is completely removed from its big naturally aspirated V8 predecessor. Instead of a high-revving eight-cylinder, the new models will feature a 3.0-litre straight-six with BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology and will redline at 7 600rpm, which is impressive for a turbocharged unit.  The engine features two mono-scroll turbochargers, high-precision direct injection, Valvetronic variable valve timing and Double-Vanos continuously variable camshaft timing.

The result is a motor that produces 332kW and a monstrous 550Nm of torque from a low 1 850rpm. Aiding in the performance department is the 80kg weight loss thanks to the use of lightweight materials, including a carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof. The six-speed manual M3 weighs in at 1 497kg for example.

The performance figures for both saloon and coupé variants are impressive. Both will reach 100km/h in 4.3 seconds, which goes down to 4.1 seconds when the vehicle is equipped with the M DCT twin-clutch transmission, now features faster gear changes as well an improved launch control system. Top speed is electronically limited to the industry standard of 250 km/h.

By downsizing and making use of a turbocharger, BMW claims to have improved efficiency by 25% over the previous model. The claimed fuel-consumption figures are 8.8 litres/100km for both the M3 and M4 manuals and 8.3 litres/100km for the M DCT-equipped models. Carbon emissions have been lowered to 204g/km for the manuals and 194g/km for the automatics.

The engineers have placed a great deal of emphasis on aerodynamics and as such the new M3 and M4 feature a specially styled front apron, a smooth underbody as well as a lip spoiler at the rear of the M3 or an integrated boot spoiler on the M4. There is also an aero curtain and M side gills that help reduce turbulence in the front wheel arches.

On the suspension front, there has been extensive use of aluminium up in the control arms, wheel carriers and sub-frames in the front and rear. There is also a CFRP engine-strut brace to help with rigidity and handling. The active M Differential uses an electronically controlled multi-plate limited-slip differential to provide the best possible traction. The suspension system was developed along with the rest of the car at the Nürburgring circuit.

There is an electromechanical steering system that offers the driver three settings as standard, namely Comfort, Sport and Sport+, which allow the level of steering assistance to be adapted to suit any given situation and the driver’s personal tastes.

One of the most unique aspects of all M cars is the engine sound, therefore the M3 and M4 have an exhaust flap system. The electrically-controlled flap opens and closes just before the rear silencer to minimise exhaust back pressure and produce a more pleasing soundtrack.

There is no word on local pricing for either model. BMW SA have, however, have confirmed that both models will be introduced in the second half of next year.

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