BMW’s iconic sports sedan, with a history going back to 1986, has reached its sixth generation. The new generation, to enter the market during the first quarter of 2021, comes with extensive technical updates, with technology from the competition experience of BMW M.
As the pictures show, the new M3 features the M-specific version of the large, vertical BMW kidney grille and styling elements such as the wheelarches, side gills and side sill extensions have gained even more visual strength. The roof is of carbonfibre and a rear spoiler manages airflow as it departs from the body.
New engine and M xDrive
Significantly, there’s also a new engine – an inline six with M TwinPower Turbo technology – as well as an all-new M xDrive system on the top version. The engine is similar to the one used in the current X3 M and X4 M SAVs and can be tuned to deliver 480 bhp/550 Nm or 510 bhp/650 Nm, the latter for the M3 Competition Sedan.
Depending on the variant and market, there will be an 8-speed M Steptronic transmission or M 6-speed manual gearbox with Gear Shift Assistant. The latest generation of the M Steptronic transmission comes with Drivelogic and 3 shift programs. Cars fitted with xDrive will have three selectable modes – 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD for pure rear-wheel drive and deactivated stability control.
Driving dynamics enhanced further
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including M Dynamic Mode and, for the first time, integrated wheel slip limitation and M Traction Control adjustable through 10 stages. The active differential can manage engine torque for greater stability on slippery surfaces but the driver can disengage it if preferred.
All M3s will come with new Adaptive M suspension with electronically-controlled shock absorbers and M Servotronic steering with variable ratio. Tuning work conducted alongside the testing programme for the M4 GT3 racing car led to M-specific front and rear-axle modifications.
The integrated brake system, with large 6-piston disc brakes, has two settings for pedal feel and response. M Compound brakes are fitted as standard across the range with M Carbon ceramic brakes optional.
Forged M light-alloy wheels are fitted, 18 inches at the front and 19 inches at the rear, rear 19-inch but the Competition version with M xDrive gets a 19-inch/20-inch combination.
More rigid structure
The body structure has been substantially stiffened with new bracing elements for the engine compartment, a front axle subframe with aluminium shear panel, underfloor bracing elements and a rear axle subframe with a rigid connection to the body.
Customers can order the M Race Track Package, available for the first time, which reduces the car’s weight (which averages 1,760 kgs) by around 25 kgs. This package comes with M Carbon ceramic brakes, special M light-alloy wheels and M Carbon bucket seats.
Same functional ‘office’
The cabin remains the functional ‘office’ that M3 drivers have always enjoyed working in. The cockpit has M-specific displays and controls, with new M sport seats (structure-based carbon bucket seats can also be specified) and fine-grain Merino leather trim. For those who want to stay cool in the heat, seat ventilation is also available.
M Drive Professional makes its debut in this new M3 generation, and it includes M Drift Analyzer, M Laptimer and M Traction Control for track use. The Drift Analyzer is operated using the iDrive infotainment system and provides information on the driver’s performance when the car oversteers. For those who want to improve their overall performance, BMW provides a driving line coach.