Over the past 35 years, the BMW M3 has become an icon in the compact sports cars segment. It is the epitome of racing and everyday practicality in a single product. Although the M3 initially served only as an homologation model for the German Touring Car Championship, sales figures for the first generation paved the way for further models. Last year, against all odds, BMW M GmbH achieved the best sales figures in its history through the worst pandemic in modern history. More than 140,000 vehicles from the entire M range were sold. And that’s despite the fact that it most markets the F80/F82 generations were not for sale in 2020.
While the first test drives of the G80 and G82 prototypes took place at the Sachsenring about a year ago, we were invited last week to the BMW Driving Academy in Maisach to extensively test the production version of the new BMW M3 and M4 Competition. BMW put together a challenging program consisting of drift and acceleration exercises. The so-called performance slots were rounded off with a racetrack experience to fully exploit the racing genes of the M4.
But before we dive into the full driving experience, let’s take a look at the most important changes and similarities of the new M3 and M4 compared to its predecessor.
Purists can be relieved: Rear-wheel drive, Six-cylinder and 6 Speed Manual
In this day and age, a 6-speed manual transmission, a six-cylinder engine and rear wheel drive in a sporty vehicle is a unicorn. BMW claims to be the last premium manufacturer still offering this recipe and the base version of the BMW M3 and BMW M4 are just providing that. Its turbocharged six-cylinder in-line engine produces a maximum output of 480 hp (353 kW) and sends of all of its power to the rear wheels. This enables a quick sprint in just 4.2 seconds from 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph). The maximum torque of 405 pound-feet is available between 2,650 to 6,130 rpm.
Customers looking for an automatic transmission will find it in the Competition models. The 8-speed M steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic, known from the X3M and X4M models, has been specially adapted to the even more powerful version of the S58 engine used in the M3 and M4 Competition. It replaces the M dual-clutch transmission used in the predecessor models. The increased power output of the Competition models totals 510 hp (375 kW) and enables acceleration from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.9 seconds.