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BMW M3 Coupe – M Duo Powers On

1/27/2015 1:23:59 AM
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BMW may have broken 26 years of naturally aspirated M3 tradition with its new model, but while the new F80 version with its direct-injection, twin-turbo inline 3.0-litre six offers just a minor increase in power, it delivers a whopping 150Nm of extra torque (550Nm) over the outgoing 4.0-litre V8, realised between 1800 and 5500rpm. Being also lighter, the new M3 will be markedly quicker. Moreover, the four-door version will be joined by the sleeker F82 two-door M4 coupe when it goes on sale here around midyear.

BMW may have broken 26 years of naturally aspirated M3 tradition with its new model

Both of the new M cars are styled aggressively, the front apron being prominent and filled with three sizeable air intakes. A pronounced power bulge is evident atop the aluminium bonnet, there’s a big side vent and the M badges and quad tail-pipe set up remain distinctive identifiers. Standard fare for M3 and M4 are forged 18-inch alloys, sporting 255/40 fronts and 275/40 rears, while 19-inch alloys are optional, in grey or black livery.

The M3/4 cabins feature a mix of luxury and sport, with an M Sport leather multifunction steering wheel, front bucket seats, and plenty of chrome trim. There are myriad driver assistance systems, such as 3D sat nav, a warning device that detects imminent pedestrian collision, enhanced active cruise control and a head-up display showing gear selected and revs. Track addicts will want to download the BMW M Lap timer app, which records speed, acceleration, revs, gear, steering angle and fuel consumption, all of which are displayed on the touchscreen when the smartphone is connected to the car via USB.

The M3/4 cabins feature a mix of luxury and sport, with an M Sport leather multifunction steering wheel, front bucket seats, and plenty of chrome trim

While on things track-oriented, drivers can also modify the electromechanical steering effort (which uses a ZF-developed system unique to the M3/4), depending on the situation, with a choice of Comfort, Sport and Sport+. A new feature is stability clutch control on the seven-speed twin-clutch box to help improve on-the-limit handling. When sensors detect understeer the clutches open to reduce drive which helps bring the car back on line.

At the heart of the twins is the company’s new “M twin-power turbo” inline six engine, producing 317kW of power at 5500rpm, an 8kW increase over the 4.0-litre normally aspirated V8 propelling the E92. The engine eschews twin-scroll turbos in favour of a pair of low inertia Mitsubishi units peaking at 1.3bar of boost, and with a new water-to-air intercooler mounted atop the engine. BMW has developed a system to keep the turbos spinning when you’ve lifted off the throttle to ensure quick response when you get back on it. It’s said to work in Sport and Sport+ modes when the ECUs detect the driver is in race mode. The redline is set at 7600rpm, and the new S55 engine weighs 10kg less than the old V8. The exhaust features an active bypass valve to manage sound levels.

When sensors detect understeer the clutches open to reduce drive which helps bring the car back on line.

The overall output may be slightly less than what the Audi RS 4 and Mercedes C 63 AMG opposition produce (by around 20kW) but BMW has removed 80kg of kerb weight in the move to the 2014 version, the new M4 evidently tipping the scales at just under 1500kg (1497kg claimed). The four door M3 weighs 23kg more. Most of the weight saving was achieved through use of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the roof, drive shaft (40 per cent lighter) and front strut brace, and aluminium in the bonnet and front body panels. BMW claims fuel economy drops by one-quarter compared with the outgoing V8 M3, the manual transmission version evidently offering a combined fuel figure of 8.8L/100km, while the dual clutch alternative subtracts 0.5L/100km from that. Mention of manual, there’s a new ZF-supplied six-speeder being 12kg lighter and it includes a blip on downshift function.

The four door M3 weighs 23kg more

Whereas the previous M3 struggled to better a 0-100 in five seconds in our hands (claim 4.7sec) the new version comfortably trumps that, both M3 and M4 variants sharing quoted 4.1sec sprint times for the seven-speed twin-clutch transmission. That’s even quicker than the M5. The six-speed manual variant is a bit slower against the clock by 0.2sec (4.3sec) but that’s still almost a half second better than before, and the dual-clutch variants are almost a full second quicker than the E92. As before, the top speed has been electronically limited to 250km/h, though an extra 30km/h is on offer when the option box for the M Driver’s Package is ticked.

Both of the new M cars are styled aggressively, the front apron being prominent and filled with three sizeable air intakes

A launch control function is expected, as it has been a feature in the M3 for some time, but a surprise is a new ‘smokey burnout’ function which allows the driver to engage in rear wheel spin at low speeds. Presumably New Zealand-bound M3s won’t get this, as sustained loss of traction at any speed is frowned upon by the authorities.

Local pricing and specifications will be detailed at the mid-year launch of these two high performance vehicles.

BMW M3 Coupe

         Price: $65,225

         Engine: Gas V8, 414bhp, 295 lb-ft, 7-sp Manual

         Fuel Economy: 20/14/16 mpg

         Weight: 3700lb

         Transmission: 2-door rear wheel drive car

 
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