Claws out! BMW’s restyled M3 and M4 just got even more ferocious

The kind is dead … long live the king!

The new M3 and its coupe sibling, the M4, have just received a limited debut.

When we covered the release of the new Ford Mustang last week, I thought it would be hard for another carmaker to top, in terms of excitement and importance. But BMW is certainly doing its best. After all, the M3 doesn’t just have the reputation of being consistently the best driving sedan on the market, it also started the whole concept of the super-sedan.

The complete details aren’t out yet, but BMW will be debuting the full car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The cars themselves will go on sale as 2015 models late in the summer of 2014.

So, without further ado, let’s see what the Bavarians have for us.

Engines & Transmission

The big news will come as a relief to Bimmer purists: the M Division has gone back to an inline-six cylinder. The V8 in the last generation was astounding, but, still, an M3 without a straight-six never seemed quite right.

The brand-new 3.0-liter six cylinder in the new M3 and M4 comes with two mono-scroll fast response turbochargers, hence the inventive name ‘M TwinPower Turbo’. This engine is an awesome combination of high-end and old school; and it’s good for 425 horsepower and 406 pound feet of torque. The impressive thing is not so much the power but the range over which it is delivered. The max torque figure is achieved all the way from 1,850 rpm up to 5,500 rpm. Don’t be sad when you get up to 5,500 rpm, though, because from 5,500 and up, you get the max power figure.

P90140434-highRes

All this power and torque in a package that weighs 10 kilos lighter than the previous V8 … wowza.

The wild thing about this is that BMW used that V8 for all of six years. Meanwhile, GM is still using a small-block V8 that was designed by Methuselah.

Along with new engines, comes with two new transmission options. The manual is a pretty standard six-speed. The main feature of note is the power-blipping system that matches the engine speed to the new gear as the driver selects it.

The fancier, more complicated option is a seven-speed dual clutch box. The most impressive feature of this transmission is that the power never needs to come off, even in the middle of a gear change. This explains why the DCT transmission can manage a 0-60 sprint in just 3.9 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than the manual.

Handling

BMW’s M division paid a nearly autistic amount of attention to lightening the new M3. The shiny carbon fiber roof  is the most obvious signs of these efforts But the stuff that really counts is mostly invisible.

The Bimmer boys built as much of the M3 and M4 from aluminum as the money men would allow. Everything from the multi-link rear suspension, to much of the bodywork, has been forged from high-grade aluminum by, what I can only assume is, BMW’s special cadre of perfectionist dwarves.

The focus on lightness and the inline twin-turbo six mark a return to the simple, straightforward origin of the M3

The results of all of this lightening is that the new car weighs in at just under 1500 kilos, 80 less than its predecessor.

When paired with the new differential, which uses multiple plates and black magic to constantly alter the slip between the two wheels, we can expect the new M3 and M4 to do even better than its predecessors.

The only potential downside in all of this is that BMW has fallen from grace and is using electric power steering. BMW claims that this adjustable system matches the feel and precision of a mechanical system. Of course Bimmer would say that. At least so far, no automaker’s electric power steering has lived up to the hype. They all feel wooden and disconnected. But if anyone is going to be able to sort this out, it is BMW’s M Division.

Styling and Design

The M3 and M4 represent stylistic evolutions from the last generation of the 3 Series. This isn’t surprising, given that BMW’s styling department tends to move slower than continental drift.

That being said, the current design is damn good. The cars are aggressive and exciting looking, but not so wild that the rich doctors and dentists who will buy the Teutonic twins will be driven away.

P90140410-highRes

As you would expect, the interior is a wash of leather and high-end synthetics. The centerpieces of the interior are the contoured seats. Design to give the maximum support and comfort even when undergoing even the friskiest maneuvering.

The technology is all focused through the latest version of iDrive.

BMW says that you should get a lot of standard equipment, but this is the one place that I won’t believe it until I see it. Historically BMW gives you the seats as standards, but if you want frills like carpets, or, say, windshield wipers, you are going to shell out extra.

Bottom line

Even if you do have to sell a kidney to afford the sunroof and technology package, chances are you won’t regret it. BMW just doesn’t make bad cars, and, from what we now know about the M3 and M4, the latest Ms won’t be exceptions to this rule.

The focus on lightness and the inline twin-turbo six mark a return to the simple, straightforward origin of the M3.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing and hearing these Bavarian screamers in person. They may not have quite the same visual thrill or flair as an AMG Mercedes or an SRT Charger but nothing drives or feels quite like the daddy, the original, the M3.  

Cars

Formula 1 is putting data in the driver’s seat, and not all racers are happy

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…
Cars

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?
Cars

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.
Cars

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Cars

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.
Cars

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.
Cars

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.
Cars

Tesla Model 3 vulnerability exposed at Pwn2Own; hackers take home the car

A Tesla Model 3 vulnerability was exposed at the Pwn2Own hacking competition. The hackers, who were able to display a message on the electric vehicle's internet browser, won $35,000 and took home the car.
Cars

Is this electric car startup the next Tesla, or will it go the way of Coda?

The electric car startup formerly known as EVelozcity has changed its name to Canoo. It also announced a lineup of four cars including a commuter-friendly model and a lifestyle-oriented car. Its first electric vehicles will begin to appear…
Cars

Ford’s born-again Bronco off-roader will soothe your 1990s nostalgia

Ford confirmed it will bring the Bronco back to American showrooms in 2020. We haven't seen the truck yet, but dealers who got a preview of it during a private event say it's a true off-roader aimed directly at the Jeep Wrangler.