What many would call a contentious car reveal is exactly the theme that BMW wanted or at least expected from every single person who witnessed the all-new BMW M3 and M4. Front facing the fifth generation platform, the BMW M3 G80 was expected to be a bit sensible and not come with the bizarre grille design that was awaited on the BMW M4 G82 but I guess designers saw fit that it would make the pack distinctive from the rest of the BMW M cars. Quite clearly, these two are generally in a league of their own as they have gained new tech, new driving aids and a new interior design, only pointing to the seats.

I think we are way past trying to compare this M3 with the previous generations because in the F80 era, it was vividly addressed to fans that imminent change has arrived and future generation M cars will look very discrete. The idea with these lads is to literally make a road car for the racetrack with a very bold approach of throwing every conceivable motorsport knowledge that they have gained over the years with the success they had in that area. Let’s see how they managed to execute this goal.

Design

The most talked about aspect on these cars is the design which has not been a common thing with past BMW M3’s because the items that would be discussed first are the engine or suspension but here it is the controversial front fascia holding the large nostrils, or should we just be formal and say grille, actually two grilles to be exact. At first when I saw this large frameless kidney grille, I liked it on the M4 but not straight away on the M3 because I did not expect it to be there. You have to get used to it and the deal of having a number plate that would disrupt the whole front look for some.

Now separated from the grille are the slim LED headlights that come as standard and optional laserlights are now available this time. The side air intakes that were on the previous M3 & M4 are now centred close to the grille which leaves side flics to act as aerodynamics enhancements. The hood contours and creases look really good and they are shaped towards the front, bringing attention to the front of the car. The M3 has only the doors carried from the 3 series and the rest of the exterior parts are made inhouse at BMW M. The side sills are finished in high-gloss black along with the front lip bumper spoiler and the rear bottom bumper part creating an illusion of a single piece surrounding the car making it look more grounded.

There are two Forged M alloy wheel design choices that have been introduced, with the M4 having them painted in Frozen Gunmetal Grey. The standard models get 18-inch wheels on the front and 19-inch wheels on the rear whilst the competition models have them sized a bit larger with the front holding 19-inch wheels and the rear with 20-inch wheels. There is an option for semi-slick tyres if ever you’d occasionally take it to the track. The wheel arches are increased by 20 mm on the front and the rear then you have M gills on the side. The traditional carbon fibre roof comes as standard and apparently there is no option for a sunroof but don’t be sad because it is purposeful with its aero dual fins and keeping the car’s centre of gravity low.

The rear sports a boot lip spoiler, an aggressive rear diffuser and the usual M arranged quad exhaust tailpipes and overall, this is what most people have admired about these cars, the rear looks so good. BMW M is brave with the colours they choose to launch with their models and here is no exception either as the Isle of Man Green on the M3 and Sao Paulo Yellow on the M4 are a show off.

No matter the angle you decide to look at on either of these cars, the aggressive essence is displayed and you can actually appreciate the design the more you look at it.

Engine and Suspension

We have talked several times about BMW planning to incorporate the S58 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbocharged engine which revs up to 7200 rpm in these cars and that has been confirmed with two versions. The standard version produces 480 hp (353 kW) and 550 Nm of torque driving the rear-wheels only and the power will be shifted on a 6-speed manual gearbox. This transmission has something called Gear Shift Assistant which eliminates slip when downshifting towards turning into a corner and giving the driver a good entry and exit on a corner. It does 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds if you’re quick enough with the clutch.

The competition version produces more power rated at 510 hp (375 kW) and 650 Nm of torque shifted via an 8-speed M Steptronic gearbox which replaces the Dual-Clutch Transmission and it is as capable at changing gears in mere split seconds. For the first time, the M3 and M4 competition get M xDrive that enables a 3.9 seconds 0-100 km/h sprint time to be achieved. There are three selectable modes for the four-wheel drive system: 4WD is all power going to all four wheels equally, 4WD Sport is most of it going to the rear wheels and 2WD is all of the power going to the rear wheels with the stability control completely turned off to allow the driver to drift.

The exhaust system features electronically operated flaps to adjust exhaust noise through different modes. The chassis and body structure are much stiffer, the engine compartment has extra bracing elements, the front axle subframe accustomed with aluminium shear panel, there is underfloor bracing elements and the rear-axle subframe with a much rigid connection. The adaptive M suspension has been tweaked and modified for better ride control thanks to electronically controlled shock absorbers.

There are new features to improve the driving experience such as the M servotronic steering with variable ratio fitted as standard. The M compound brakes or optional M carbon ceramic brakes are aided to perform better via the new braking system with two modes that adjusts the pedal feel and response. Then that equips the M Dynamic mode to work along with the Dynamic Stability Control to tame the car whenever it slips. The M traction control, which is also a first on any M car, has ten adjustable stages that determine how much traction can be had on the wheels and that reminds me of the AMG traction control dialler from the AMG GT-R. I suppose taking a page from competitors reaps benefits to produce a good performance car.

Interior

The most eye-catching part on the inside are the optional M carbon bucket seats with two-tone colour scheme of your choice. The standard newly designed sports seats are still nice also with a complement of Merino leather trim. As expected, there is an M specific digital instrument cluster which carries on to the infotainment screen that is configured via M mode for a sportier display, plus the head-up display follows suit depending on the Road or Sport Mode. There are various controls on the centre console to adjust the engine response, suspension, steering, gear shifts and braking system settings.

The dash is beautiful with the different trims that are available to choose from, even the steering wheel and paddle shifters can be trimmed. The M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel have individual preselected settings to suit your taste. The optional M Driver professional package comes with Track mode that when activated, turns off the centre screen and driver assistant systems for a full attack mode experience. Included in the package also is M Drift analyser that analyses your drifting I guess and M laptimer to set your times on a racetrack.

M Performance Parts

For the first time, it seems like people are pissed by the extra parts included for both the BMW M3 and M4. Particularly the two-tone exterior colour and the weirdly arranged M performance titanium exhaust pipes. There are some benefits with other parts such as the sports suspension which was developed and tuned at different racetracks. There are M Performance brake pads that guarantee shorter braking distance. Other visual upgrades include carbon rear winglets, carbon rear spoiler, carbon rear diffuser and carbon side sills. The 20-inch and 21-inch forged wheels are really unique as they are designed in cross-spoke 1000M finished in either Gold Bronze matt or Jet-Black matt with M performance lettering.

The treatment follows through into the interior where its sports doorsills with carbon insert, decorative stitching in contrasting colours, distinctive floor mats, steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara or leather with carbon fibre. The small details on these cars can be changed via this option to make the car more unique to the customer.

The only news received so far concerning the South African market is that only the competition models are coming which means that the manual version won’t be sold in SA and that is quite disappointing for the local M purists.

Source: BMW M3 Sedan & BMW M4 Coupe Press Release