The first BMW M hit the streets thirty-five years ago – the iconic E30 M3. And now, the German automaker has unveiled its latest high-performance M cars: a brand new M3 sedan and M4 coupe.
Compared to the last generation, both vehicles are larger in every measure. The sixth-generation M3 sedan is 117 mm longer, 10 mm wider, 9 mm higher and has a 45 mm longer wheelbase than the previous iteration. The second-generation M4 coupe is 117 mm longer, 17 mm wider, 10 mm higher and has a 45 mm longer wheelbase than the M4 it replaces.
But that’s not what you’ll notice at first sight. It’s the face that’ll grab your attention instantly. The M3 and M4 are identical at the front end. Both are aggressively designed. Some of styling cues are attractive – such as the sharply sculpted hood, slim headlamps, prominently flared fenders and carbon-fibre roof. But other design elements, such as the massive kidney grille, may be too radical and controversial for die-hard enthusiasts. The giant grille is functional, providing air to cool the engine and surrounding components, but it’s also eye-catching, and some might even say ugly. However, it does succeed where it matters most. Visually, there is no mistaking the M3 or M4 for its mild-mannered siblings – or anything else on the road, for that matter.
“Our goal is to make statements,” said Domagoj Dukec, head of design at BMW Automobiles. “My goal is to have products that stand out. Today you have many brands and new players. Everybody is getting louder – not just more aggressive, but bolder and braver. Louder means it has to be distinctive and stand out in a competitive market,” he adds.
Dukec has definitely achieved his goal. Without a doubt, the M3 and M4 are loud and extreme in design. Despite its love-it-or-hate-it front end, it is unmistakable compared to the competition.
“Some people require something that stands out, so you’ll have kidneys that are bolder and more polarizing – that’s what they are looking for. It’s not for everyone,” he admitted.
Another design element that raises the bar even higher is the bold palette of exterior paint colours, which are available in metallic, non-metallic and matte finishes. New shades include “Sao Paolo Yellow” and “Isle of Man Green Metallic,” which undoubtedly will turn a few heads.
“Colours are fashionable. With colours, you have to be more quick and adaptive to taste. We have to step out from the base portfolio. It makes M more distinctive for customers to stand out from others,” added Dukec.
Inside, the colour theme continues with sharp new shades such as “Yas Marina Blue” and “Kyalami Orange” set against black merino leather. M-specific displays and buttons appear throughout the cabin, in case you forget this is no ordinary Bimmer.
But it’s not just about design. Form and function go hand-in-hand, says Dukec. “People love BMW because it’s about high-performance, a perfectly-engineered product. Design is one part. We don’t want to do something superficial. This is what makes BMW perfectly engineered with strong characteristics.”
Four models will be up for grabs when the vehicles arrive in dealerships next March: a RWD M3 sedan and M4 coupe with a 6-speed manual transmission along with a RWD M3 Competition and M4 Competition, available only with an 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive will be available on the Competition models in the summer of 2021.
A more powerful engine beats under the hood of the M3 and M4. Both feature a 3-litre twin-turbo inline-6. The base version gets 473 hp and 406 lb.-ft. of torque driving the rear-wheels via the 6-speed manual transmission. Move up the ranks to the Competition models, and output jumps to 503 hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque – that’s an extra 59 ponies and 73 lb.-ft. of torque compared to the similarly-equipped outgoing model. All that power makes the Competition models hit 0-100 km/h in only 3.9 seconds; the base versions does it in 4.2.
The 2021 BMW M3 sedan starts at $84,300; the M4 coupe at $85,100. Add an extra $4,000 to move up to the M3 and M4 Competition models.
2021 BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe
- Base price: $84,300 for the M3 sedan and $85,100 for the M4 coupe; $88,300 for the M3 Competition sedan; $89,100 for the M4 Competition coupe
- Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six with 473 hp and 406 lb.-ft. of torque; M3/M4 Competition models output is 503 hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque
- Transmission/Drive: 6-speed manual/8-speed automatic/RWD (AWD to come on automatic-only Competition models in summer 2021)
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km city and highway): TBC
- Alternatives: Mercedes-AMG C63, Audi RS 5, Lexus RC F
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