The engineers of the new generation 2021 BMW M3 and M4 did not make it any easier when they also brought an F82 M4 to the track for the prototype test drive of the new M brothers. Certainly, one thing is undisputed: Even six years after the market launch of the previous M4 with the Competition package is just as impressive.
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So anyone who brings it to the first drive preview must either be arrogant or extremely confident. Whether the engineers of the sixth generation iconic M car were driven by high spirits or self-confidence, can be determined relatively quickly on the the Sachsenring race track.
First Up Is The Older F82 M4
My drive starts at the wheel of the F82 M4 which impresses with the familiar, but its never boring strengths: low weight, balanced weight distribution, rear-wheel drive, an extremely easy-turning inline six-cylinder and a good steering feedback. It still puts a big grain on your face on a demanding track like the Sachsenring.
But the F82 is not the reason for our visit, so after a few laps, I jump behind the wheel of the new generation G80 M3.
Even before driving off, the cockpit leaves no doubt that the time has not stood still. Larger displays and the more modern displays of the current iDrive 7 are reminiscent of the higher priced and more powerful BMW M8. But compared to the top coupe model, the new G82 BMW M4 also gets the fans’ favorite six-speed manual transmission.
Six-Speed Manual Only With A RWD Setup
Therefore, the new generation of BMW M3 and M4 should also score points in any real driver’s car ranking. And for many fans and drivers of the previous five M3 generations, the new iteration not only includes a a manual gearbox, but also the classic rear-wheel drive with a mechanical locking differential.
That is exactly why the M Division has brought the basic model to the Sachsenring. The test cars are the entry-level versions of the G80 M3 and G82 M4 with 480 hp, manual transmission and power sent to the axle.
The BMW M3 and M4 Competition models with 510 hp and an eight-speed automatic, and a four-wheel drive model with M xDrive will follow in late 2021.
But for the first in-house comparison with the predecessor, the entry-level M3 and M4 are still more powerful than the current M3/M4 Competition.
Dirk Häcker, known to our regular readers as Head of Development M Automobiles goes full throttle right after the pit exit. So if you want to justify your exclusive presence at Sachsenring, you need to stay on it. At first, you will be amazed how effortlessly the new M4 turns in, following the driver’s ambitious goals.
Now it makes sense why BMW wanted me to drive the F82 M4 a bit earlier in the day. Aboard the G80 M3, you will immediately feel faster on the track, especially after you find the optimal balance between braking too early or carrying too much speed in the corner.
Häcker later confirmed in an interview that the engineers saw potential for noticeable progress in the steering behavior and worked intensively, among other things, with additional stiffeners in the front-end, new wheel suspensions and, of course, modifications to the suspension and damping, so that the new generation could be even more impressive than their predecessor.
It goes without saying that the M engineers have also improved the rear axle behavior. The result is impressively high cornering speeds, at which the M3 appears to remain stable on the track, quite effortlessly.
The new model is powered by the new S58 TwinTurbo inline six-cylinder, which we already know from X3 M and X4 M. In the new 2021 BMW M3 and M4, the engine tuning has been adjusted to fit the lower weight of the cars.
What is particularly convincing, in combination with the manual six-speed gearbox, is the more generous torque at low engine rpms. This allows you to concentrate almost entirely on the 3, 4 and 5th gears on the Sachsenring.
For the first time, the M setup enables software support in the form of “double-declutching” to be set independently of the DSC mode. In the future, if you want, you can switch gears manually without the rev matching, and at the same time leave DSC or DTC activated.
Still A Real Driving Machine
After my brief but productive session with the 2021 BMW M3 and M4 is clear that new generation is still a real driving machine. Subjectively, everything indicates that the basic models will clearly deliver better lap times than the F80/F82 Competition predecessors.
The full potential of the new G80/G82 M3/M4 will only be revealed by the Competition models, which are geared even more towards performance.
Test drive performed by our sister magazine BimmerToday