Would an electrified BMW M3 be a good idea?

BMW M3 | December 20th, 2015 by 9
Dakar Yellow BMW M3 for sale 2 750x500

We all know that automakers are in a bit of a struggle to keep emissions down and fuel economy up, as government regulations across the …

We all know that automakers are in a bit of a struggle to keep emissions down and fuel economy up, as government regulations across the globe are getting stricter every day. The polar bears are losing their homes and it seems as if the blame falls solely on the gas-sucking automobile, if you listen to Prius drivers. So BMW, as well as many other automakers, has been working incredibly hard to do its part as an environmentally conscious company by planning to create plug-in hybrid variants of every model in its lineup. And it’s very possible that the this plan could make its way to the famous M Division.

Dakar Yellow BMW M3 for sale 3 750x500

If this were to happen, and a BMW M3 or M4 were to become hybridized, the M faithful would be up in arms. BMW M fans would rebel against the blue and white for creating such a heretical vehicle. This is obvious, though, as BMW purists have always rebelled against any sort of change for the M3. As it got heavier with every iteration since the E30, fans groaned. When it gained a V8, with the E90/E92 M3, purists bemoaned its lack of inline-six and extra heft. Now fans miss the E46 and the E9x’s glorious 4.0 liter V8. When the F80 BMW M3 debuted, fans were up in arms about the M3’s new turbocharged nature. However, if BMW were to go hybrid with the next M3, fans would reminisce about the F80’s turbocharged engine and its “purity”.

But would any hate for a hybrid M3 actually be warranted? Or should the idea of a hybrid M3 be embraced?

Well, it’s actually quite an interesting idea, having a hybrid BMW M3, with some good points on either side of the argument. One one hand, the BMW M3 is a sort of purists car, something that prioritizes fun, feel and handling dynamics above all things. So the idea of adding an electric motor and big, heavy batteries is something that will deeply bother many BMW fans. Being that batteries and electric motors are so heavy, they could cause something as dynamic as an M3 to become a bit sloppier in the twisty stuff. Also, the idea of features like an EV mode and regenerative braking in an M3 is not a very enticing one.

2015 BMW i8 Test Drive 1900x1200 4 750x500

Plug-In Hybrid BMW i8

However, there is a flip side to the argument. And that flip side is actually a car in BMW’s current stable — the BMW i8. The i8 proves that hybrid sports cars can still be incredibly fun, if done properly. While batteries are very heavy, BMW can offset that weight by using carbon fiber construction, as it does on the i8 which only weighs 3,400 lbs, making the i8 even lighter than the current BMW M3. So BMW could develop a hybrid M3 to not have a weight penalty because of the hybrid powertrain.

Then there’s the power and performance gains from a hybrid powertrain. Electric motors provide power and torque instantaneously, which massively benefits turbocharged engines. As the turbos wait to fully spool, there’s always a bit of turbo lag, even if it’s minute. An electric motor’s instant torque completely eliminates that lag, giving turbocharged engines a more linear powerband and sharper throttle response. The BMW i8 has an uncanny ability to rocket out of corners faster than most sports cars, despite its three-cylinder engine, thanks to its low-range torque.

Laguna Seca Blue BMW M3 Modded At European Auto Source

The idea of a BMW M3 being able to do such a thing is actually quite enticing. Imagine a BMW M3 with a carbon fiber passenger cell, like the i8’s, and an electric motor mated to a turbocharged inline-six engine. That’s a scary thought for competitors like the Cadillac ATS-V and Mercedes-AMG C63 S. If BMW could use the hybrid powertrain mostly for performance and not so much economy, similar to the way McLaren uses it for the P1, BMW would have the sports car of the future on its hands. Would it piss off the purists? Of course, but as history would tell us, they’re gonna be pissed either way.

[Source: BMWCCA]

9 responses to “Would an electrified BMW M3 be a good idea?”

  1. nevertielaces says:

    I’d love a electric version. We moving into times that the petrol engine has reached its limit. Electric is the way to go.

  2. Nedlands says:

    I dont think it needs to be too over the top. Add a 100 hp front drive and either a small quantity of batteries or a capacitor bank to just get things moving and it would make a world of difference to the performance (operating somewhat like a KERS). 99% of the time, rear wheel drive is just fine.

  3. Mark Tucker says:

    Batteries are increasing their energy density and at the same time the efficiency of electric motors is also improving.Thus the weight impact of the battery pack will be dramatically reduced over time. It is possible we are talking about a battery pack in ten years time which is a quarter of the size and weight of that found in the i8 today. At that point BMW would be crazy not to do it.
    It is really a question of managing the change. The potential is there, cars like the Porsche 918 prove that. But right now we cannot do an Electrified M right for a price we currently pay. The big risk is that regulations will force the use of technology before it is ready resulting in substandard cars for a few years before the tech catches up.
    That is my real fear, a generation with less performance, substandard handling while we wait to for the good stuff to arrive.

  4. CDspeed says:

    If you couldn’t get gas any more, or it became ridiculously expensive, would you want the M3 to live on, or die off beacuse you refuse to see it go electric? To me the M3 is about power, and handling that is at home on the road or track, and an electric M3 would still do that. I don’t think a change in power would stop BMW M from being what it is.

  5. steven75 says:

    Electric power would be the best thing to happen to the M3 in it’s entire existence. I am biased (own an i3), but there’s no getting around the fact that electric motors have instant 100% torque at any RPM and gas motors do not. Being at peak RPM in every situation is kind of a big deal on the track, no?

    The ONLY issue is weight. People will get over the loss of noise and it’s not like BMW isn’t already adding artificial noise through the stereo on the existing M cars anyway.

    For me, I’d love an M2. Best BMW in ages! However that gas engine removes it entirely from my consideration.

  6. Kaisuke971 says:

    Purists are already pissed, so as long as it gives it enough performance to beat its competitors, i don’t care.

  7. LucyPup says:

    I, as well as other readers it appears, would welcome an electrified M car. I want my next car (currently an F82 M4) to be a step forward technologically; if the next M4 doesn’t do that, I am not interested. In fact, I am already considering an i8, and while it is an advanced car, it doesn’t have the track capabilities I would like my car to possess. I want a hybrid drivetrain, and I want AWD. I hope BMW does it first, and better than, Porsche! (And MB, if it is a sports car, or a sports coupe; sorry, just personally prefer 2 doors!)

  8. JSoares says:

    As long as they keep the weight down (never heavier than the current generation), which is something they definitely have the technology for, I’m absolutely on board! Instant throttle response? Yes please. More torque? Yes please. Lower fuel consumption? Yes please. Seriously, what’s not to like?

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