Thirty-five years since the original BMW M3 was unveiled to the world, Munich has now pulled the wraps off the new G80 BMW M3 and G82 BMW M4. The latest high-performance sedan and coupé stick to the usual formula of added power and chassis upgrades, but this time, they’ve deviated from the script a little bit.
Yes, as you’ve probably seen from all the spyshots, leaks and teasers, the new M3 and M4 will get a massive (and still divisive) new full-height grille, just like the new 4 Series. Love it or hate it, it will be all everyone talks about, but a flex of your right foot will be all you need to leave them in the dust.
That’s because the cars will come with a new S58 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged straight-six, derived from the X3 and X4 M. It may be the same size as the old S55 mill, but a new 3D-printed cylinder head core reduces weight by optimising the routing of the cooling ducts.
The direct injection system has also been uprated and now operates at a maximum pressure of 350 bar, while a particulate filter enables it to meet the latest Euro 6d emissions standards. As before, the engine features a closed-deck construction with a wire-arc sprayed iron cylinder wall coating, forged crankshafts, Valvetronic variable valve timing, Double Vanos variable camshaft timing and an improved cooling system.
All-in-all, the new engine churns out 480 PS at 6,250 rpm and 550 Nm of torque from 2,650 to 6,130 rpm, which by itself is nearly 50 PS and 50 Nm more than the outgoing F80 and F82 models. Better yet, all this power is routed as standard through an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual gearbox, which gets a new bell housing to harness the added power. Zero to 100 km/h is dispatched in 4.2 seconds.
But that’s not all, because the M3 and M4 are also being offered at launch in Competition spec. This one punches out 510 PS at 6,250 rpm and 650 Nm between 2,750 and 5,500 rpm – increases of close to 60 PS and 100 Nm over the previous Competition models. Only the eight-speed automatic transmission from the M5 and M8 is available here, and so equipped, it demolishes the century sprint in just 3.9 seconds.
The gearbox isn’t the only thing lifted from the bigger models – from next summer, the M3 and M4 Competition will also be available with an optional M xDrive all-wheel-drive system for the first time. An electronic multi-plate clutch apportions power variably to the front and rear wheels, while the Active M Differential distributes torque side-to-side to each rear wheel.
As with their larger siblings, the xDrive models deliver torque only to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions, routing power to the front if a loss of traction is detected. The system features 4WD and 4WD Sport settings, with the latter delivering a greater rear bias. Alternatively, you can switch to 2WD mode with the stability control off, allowing you to engage in lairy sideways action.
To rein in all that performance, the chassis features numerous structural upgrades and bespoke suspension. The unique aluminium front subframe has been outfitted with strut tower braces, vertical bracing and a single-piece shear panel with integrated side braces. The centre and rear sections have also been modified with a crossbar, additional stiffening measures at the rear and a new rigidly-mounted rear subframe.
Both the M3 and M4 benefit from a lower centre of gravity, a wider front track and standard-fit adaptive M suspension. The front double-jointed MacPherson struts come with aluminium wishbones and torque arms, a forged swivel bearing, lightweight wheel bearings, and bespoke kinematics with large castor and kingpin angles. The rear five-link axle gains model-specific wishbones and uprights.
Overall, BMW claims a high level of stability and precision, neutral on-limit steering behaviour and a linear build-up of lateral forces. All models come with speed-sensitive, variable-ratio M Servotronic steering that reduces torque steer on all-wheel-drive models, plus a brake-by-wire system with two pedal feel settings.
The latter, which is said to deliver improved brake pressure generation and quicker and more precise stability control intervention, is linked to new M compound brakes with six-piston front callipers and 380 mm front discs. These feature blue callipers as standard and are optionally available with either a black or red finish. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available as an option with 400 mm front discs and gold callipers.
As usual, the M3 and M4 also get a more lenient M Dynamic Mode for the stability control, while the traction control system is now integrated into the ECU and responds up to ten times faster. The optional M Drive Professional system adds a new M Traction Control function that provides ten different levels of intervention, along with a lap timer and a “drift analyser”. It comes as standard on the Competition models.
That is a huge list of upgrades, so for this generation, BMW has amped up the visual aggression further for a more extroverted appearance. That controversial grille juts out from the front fascia and features new horizontal bars with model badging. It is flanked by the 4 Series’ trapezoidal headlights and large intakes that feed air to both the brakes and the radiators. Aero flics are integrated into the vertical Air Curtain inlets.
Lines emanating from the grille flow into the bonnet which, oddly, feature divots that only suggest that there are vents. The front and rear fenders have been stretched significantly to wrap around the staggered wheels – for the first time, the rollers have a different diameter for the front and rear.
As standard, the M3 and M4 come with 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels wrapped in 275/40- and 285/35-section tyres respectively, whereas the all-wheel-drive models receive the 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels that are optional on the other models. They are shod with 275/35-section rubber at the front and 285/30-section items at the back.
Elsewhere, you’ve got diagonal front fender gills, broader side skirts, dual-arm side mirrors, a small bootlid spoiler and a beefy rear diffuser. The bespoke exhaust features four huge round exhaust tips that are chrome on the standard cars and black on the Competition models. The front splitters, side skirts and rear diffuser are all finished in gloss black. New paint finishes include Sao Paulo Yellow, Isle of Man Green and Toronto Red.
The interior has been embellished with M sports seats, red M buttons on the steering wheel, a red starter button and an illuminated gearlever on the automatic models. Buyers can specify new (and very aggressive-looking) M carbon bucket seats with integrated headrests and illuminated model badging, while the optional carbon fibre decorative trim also adds some spindly carbon paddle shifters with red trim.
GALLERY: G80 BMW M3 Competition
GALLERY: G82 BMW M4 Competition