I’ve always expected the same from BMW’s M cars. They are machines built to go fast and handle well, and do the grocery run every now and then. So, when the German automaker unveiled the newest iteration of its popular M3 and M4, it wasn’t the spec sheet that honestly had me gasping.
But before I get to that, let me discuss the numbers. The BMW M3 and M4 share the same 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Fitted with two turbochargers, this motor generates up to 480hp of output and 550Nm of torque. Zero to 100km/h is dispatched in just 4.2 seconds. Crucially, this powertrain is exclusively mated to a slick six-speed manual transmission which should make enthusiasts jump for joy.
If the standard versions aren’t enough, both cars have Competition variants. These come with a significant increase in power and torque: 510hp and 650Nm, respectively. This shortens the sprint time to 100km/h to 3.9 seconds, thanks in part to the quick-shifting eight-speed Steptronic gearbox. One important aspect of the Competition version is that customers can spec their cars with all-wheel drive. This means that the M3 and M4 Competition can blast out of turns faster thanks to the improved traction on corner exit.
Of course, no BMW performance car is complete without the usual slew of high-tech stuff starting with M Mode. This feature allows the driver to configure each individual electronic aid to suit his/her skill level, the track, or weather conditions. This works in tandem with M Drive Professional which analyzes slide angles and tallies lap times on track days. The front-to-rear torque split can even be altered on Competition models fitted with AWD so they can join in on the tire-shredding action.
But if there is one thing that is clearly noticeable on the new M3 and M4 (apart from the performance), it’s the rather large kidney grille. Now, this isn’t the first time that BMW has enlarged this prominent area of the front fascia. In fact, the 4-Series already has it. But what makes those in the M3 and M4 look like empty chasms are the blacked-out slats. While this obviously gives the M cars a different look compared to lesser models, the camouflaged slats make the radiator grille look like huge nostrils especially on vehicles with bright paint jobs.
Now, BMW says that the frameless kidney grille delivers unimpeded airflow to the high-performance engine. Turbo motors easily get hot, so every bit of cooling does help. But growing up in the era of the E36, E46, and E92 M3, I personally would’ve wanted a more subtle treatment of the front fascia.
In the grand scheme of things, the large holes at the front do not take away the fact that the new M3 and M4 will surely feel right at home both on the road and on the track. With enhancements to both straight-line performance and cornering agility, other sports cars will see more of these Bimmers’ rear ends fly past them at speed.