2015 BMW M3
By Laura Burstein
On Sale: May 2014
Expected Pricing: Starting around $61,000
The latest incarnation of the high-performance 2015 BMW M3 made its first appearance at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2014, a few weeks after photos and details emerged on the web, teasing anxious fans who haven't seen a new four-door M3 since the 2011 model year.
Notably, the 2015 BMW M3 drops its predecessor's V8 engine for a beefed-up version of BMW's much-loved turbocharged inline-6. This time around, the 3.0-liter powerplant cranks out 426 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque (on tap from as low as 1850 rpm). That's more power than the V8. With it, the BMW estimates the 2015 M3 will be able to dash from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch. And as before, all M3 sedans are rear-wheel drive. As part of BMW's new nomenclature, the M3 is a sedan only; the M-powered coupe is now known as the M4.
The M3 sheds quite a bit of weight, which is expected nowadays with every new generation for most vehicles, but a feat nonetheless for BMW, which had been criticized in past years for cars that seemed to keep getting heavier. The new design shaves off 176 pounds compared to the outgoing model, thanks in part to a body that uses a greater percentage of aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. The M3 also gets a carbon fiber roof.
The new front end is both aggressive and functional, with larger front air intakes that help improve aerodynamics. Vertical vents alongside the front fenders channel air down the sides of the car. A rear spoiler keeps the car planted, while a smooth underbody and rear diffuser help the M3 to slice through the air with as little resistance as possible.
A redesigned, lighter suspension uses a double-joint spring strut setup in front and a new five-link axle in the rear. Most components, including control arms, are aluminum. An optional adaptive suspension allows drivers to choose between different driving modes.
Electric power steering feel is also adjustable, independently from the suspension. Selectable steering is standard and features Comfort, Sport and Sport + modes.
Inside the cabin, the design is similar to that of a 3 Series sedan, but splashier with a variety of colors and finishes. Sport seats retain their signature contrast stitching, and carbon fiber panels are left exposed for a race-ready appearance. The M logo can be found everywhere, reminding drivers that they paid a premium for a much faster car than those regular BMWs.
Also available is a BMW M lap timer app, which lets drivers analyze their driving style via a paired smartphone. The app will record vehicle speed, lateral acceleration engine revs, steering angle and more, and can also record two laps on the same track, allowing a corner-by-corner comparison. Other options include a head-up display, navigation, adaptive LED headlights and collision warning system.
Sales of the 2015 BMW M3 are expected to start in the U.S. in May 2014. Pricing won't be announced until closer to the on-sale date, but we figure a similar starting price to the outgoing M3, around $61,000.