BMW Pulls the silk-off the new M3 & M4 Competition
By Minenhle Mtshali
The M3. Arguably one of, if not the most iconic sport sedans available on the market. What started as a homologation special in the E30 Generation, to allow the BMW to enter the 3 series into FIA Group A racing, morphed into a must have in every petrol head’s garage. The E36 M3 from the 90’s birthed the formula that remains today – straight six-cylinder motor in the front, power sent to the rear wheels via a (sometimes) manual gearbox. The E46 perfected this formula in the early 2000’s. The E92 from the late 2000’s threw out the rule book, putting in a stonking great V8 in the front (which was essentially the V10 in the M5 with two cylinders chopped off). The F80 M3 returned to the straight six formula and brought with it a sleeker sibling. Gone was the 3 Series Coupe, and in its place, a 4 Series, and an M4. It also brought an initially hated, but now loved element to the party – turbo charging. And now, the latest G80 M3 and the G82 M4 have been launched.
Let us get the most important thing out the way first. South Africa will only be receiving the Competition variants. This means the S58 3,0 litre twin turbocharged straight-six will be sending 375kW and 650NM of Torque via an 8-speed automatic ZF gearbox (no more DCT) to the rear wheels. This will take the car from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds, and from 0-200km/h in 12,5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250km/h, although this can be raised to 290km/h if you select the “M Driver’s package”. From July 2021, M xDrive will be available as an optional extra. Do not worry though, it will have a Drift mode for your trips to “Secret Location”.
Other markets will also get the standard M3 and M4, which uses the same motor, but it only produces 353kW and 550NM, and will only send power to the rear wheels via the same 8-speed auto, or, a 6-speed manual. Yes, that means we won’t be getting the manual. Cry all you want, unfortunately, no one buys the manual in SA anyway.
With that out the way, next is the design. Now, lets start on the less… controversial aspect, the interior. BMW have done their utmost to ensure the driver gets the most involving experience. As standard, leather trimmed bucket seats that are specific to the M3 and M4. They offer a nice balance between comfort and performance. As an optional extra, you can spec beautiful Carbon Bucket seats. These can be used with 6 point harnesses for your trips to the race track and are available in very interesting colour schemes. My favourite? Kyalami Orange. The rest of the interior is what we’ve come to expect from the 3 and 4 Series, just turned up slightly. The steering wheel has been replaced with an M-specific item, which is thicker, features the configurable “M1” and “M2” buttons in red, and lovely carbon fibre shift paddles, which feature a nice, textured rubber-like rear.
Behind the steering wheel is the usual configurable digital display cluster, which can change the way in which information is displayed depending on your driving mode, or what you configure. It also displays the usual driver info such as temperature, range, the odometer, and can also display navigation and music. The main infotainment screen is the same as what we have in the regular 3 Series. It features the latest iDrive and is controlled by the touch screen, the jog-wheel, gesture control, or by saying “Hey BMW”. But what is new to the M3, is the M-specific displays, which allow you to configure each individual element in the drive train – from engine and gearbox response, brake feel, suspension, and even the optional 10 step traction control, which also comes with a “drift display” which rates your drifts, and gives you the maximum angle achieved and the length of the drift. Perfect then, for the commute on the N1.
Moving on to the outside and… as we expected for the M4, we find a large, vertical kidney grille, that harks back to BMWs of old (and where it should’ve stayed quite frankly). This grille is shared too with the M3, giving M3 owners a more distinctive car from the rest of the 3 series range. It is certainly attention grabbing. The lower part of the grille is flanked by air intakes which channel air to the various coolers, and air curtains that feed air over the 380mm front brake discs (Carbon ceramics are an option).
The rears are very much like the standard cars, however with a massive rear diffuser hiding 100mm quad tip exhausts (sorry, it’s the 4-pipes), which sound surprisingly good, despite the prerequisite OPF filters. As an option you can spec M Performance exhaust tips which arranges the 4 pipes in an LFA-gone-wrong setup. I guess it is meant to match the odd front end then. A nice M-Performance part is the rear wing.
Overall, despite the uproar from some circles about the grille on the new M3 and M4, the rest of the car sounds absolutely incredible. BMW SA has yet to confirm pricing, and they are expected to go on sale in 2021. I’d get my order in as soon as I could.