Take a deep breath. I know what you’re thinking, we’ll get there. Everyone calm down. It’s staring right at me. It’s probably larger than my inevitable student loan debt. That grille is hard to look past, but with 473 horsepower coming from a twin-turbo inline-6 paired with a solid DCT. Opt for the Competition Package, you’ll get 503 horsepower. When you’re going that fast, no one exactly looks at the grille. The new M twins are a bit backwards of sorts, going against traditional BMW naming principles. The M3 is the sedan while the M4 gets the coupe, in what opposite upside-down world does that make sense? But this new generation isn’t exactly a refresh, it’s a full-out rebuild. The exterior and performance are all built up fresh, and personally I’m all for it. The makings of one of the best sports cars of all time.
M Performance For the Win
The duo has the same engine, a twin turbocharged trademarked inline-6 cylinder engine putting out around 473 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. That’s great and all but in today’s market, it’s nothing to get your bagels in a twist about. However, to handle all that power, BMW left you in charge with a 6 speed manual— NICE. Now that by itself puts the M3 in a class all by its own. No AMGs come with a manual in the States, neither does any of its real competitors. It’s not shoddily put together either, the clutch engagement is just perfect, and is not a far reach at all. It’s already a short throw, no need for an aftermarket short shifter. Automatic rev matching takes most of the chore out of driving a manual, maybe enticing some on the fence buyers to actually take the leap. The M4 will come with an 8-speed automatic with BMW’s iconic Steptronic transmission, making for a smooth ride, yet capable on the drag strip and the track. The manual also offers a 50-lb weight reduction over the 8-speeds, making for a nice point to add in the M3’s pro bucket.
This year, you have a choice between standard RWD or BMW’s monicker for AWD, their XDrive system—which in and of itself is a great system. The added traction will boost the 0-60 times down to 3.8 seconds for both models. As expected, the cars will have a plethora of options that will somehow have your pockets pleading for mercy. For example, in order to just increase the top speed from 155 to 180, that’ll be $2,500 for the Driver’s Package. Worth it? Maybe, depending on your track availability or your needs to outrun Uncle Sam. While you’re doing that, the engine will purr wildly contingent on your tastes. An electronically controlled exhaust valve system steals the show on the underbody. Depending on your drive mode, the valves will restrict or free up the exhaust gasses, creating a perfect balance of backpressure (or none) to make the most performance gains and the best symphony of sounds. Roaring to life, you’ll hear it, and the high revs allow the twins to snap, crackle, and pop right from the factory. Huge carbon ceramic brakes with M calipers allow for hard braking on a dime wrapped by 19 inch rear wheels are felt immediately by the driver, and are super catchy.
Amp Up the Competition
It doesn’t end there, you can crank it up a notch on both vehicles with the highest trim: The Competition Package. This will bring the new S58 engine straight to the tuners that are in the basement of the BMW factory and force them to put out a monstrous 503 horsepower with 479 lb-ft of torque. The party for the manual however, ends there. Anything with the Competition Package is paired with the 8-speed manual, still very good and smooth, just not the average gearhead’s choice. Coming with it, are some nice black chrome tips, pretty trivial, but they do very much stand out. Perhaps the craziest thing, both cars have 3D printed cylinder heads to save weight, that’s the power of M Performance, trust me, that’s new.
Driving both truly seems like a blast. A perfect steering balance eats up curvy roads enough to make anyone smile. A M branded 10 phase traction control system gets the backend out and loose at any speed or at any moment. The turbos hit in sequential order, leaving turbo lag all but out of the equation. Look at a dyno sheet and you’ll see consistent linear increases in horsepower straight from the gates. Looking at the temperature gauge, you’ll find BMW’s new cooling system in play— those goliath nostril grilles. Oh my. Using a mixture of air, water, and oil cooling, the temperature gauge rarely goes over the midpoint, and at most tips right underneath it. 3 radiators and an electric fan all kick in at idle, something you can definitely hear. 3 radiators? You’d think they used a normal size grille in order to fit 3 in.
Here Comes the Drama
With a drag coefficient of .34 (very impressive), there’s no need to see why the car is shaped the way it is. The lines are gorgeous, sculpting the car for what I think is one of Germany’s most beautiful creations yet. It’s practical and stylish, good looks. Yet it’s also one of the car’s largest hurt spots. Those two large kidney grilles in the front, may not be for everyone. Actually, according to BMW, they’re not for 80% of the population. Yes, that’s right— the CEO of BMW said, “1 out of every 5 consumers thinks favorably of the new kidney grille, and that’s something we stand by.” Errrr, who’s going to tell him. A little confused, but he’s got the spirit! It’s growing on me— just like the grille grew on the car. I personally saw no issue with the previous grille but BMW will tell you it’s for increased airflow and upped performance and so there’s no way around it.
It’s All There
The styling is gorgeous, it performs well, and the final piece of the puzzle— the interior is just the same. The M3 and M4 share similar interiors, they’re similar cars. The only difference is the type of car, sedan and coupe. Despite that conflict, the interior is very BMW-esque. Sport bucket seats are surprisingly comfortable, and very usable for daily drivers. A huge all-digital gauge cluster takes your eyes as soon as you hop in with BMW Live Cockpit. An intuitive model to put forward by the Germans. M buttons on the steering wheel really are the focal point, from there you can adjust the suspension, the steering, the exhaust note, and even the brakes. A fully adjustable sports car, while some claim to be driver oriented, I can think of no other way to prove it than configurability which is what BMW has done.
More on the interior, the standard anthracite-colored headliner and interior Aluminum Tetragon trim enhance the sports-car aura. Cars with the optional Carbon Fiber interior trim also feature carbon trim for the inlays in the M leather steering wheels and the shift paddles for the Competition models.It looks like a high-end sports car, which is what you’re getting at this price point.
Well, we’ll see, but at the end of the day, it’s not overpriced, and it’s not a value. It’s exactly what you pay for. Starting at $69,900/$72,800 for the M3 and M3 CS; as well as $71,800/$74,700 for the M4 and M4 CS, it’ll be interesting with further testing. But for now, it seems like an all around sports car in true German fashion.