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More With Less


BMW’s new M3 sedan and M4 coupe shed two cylinders and add performance


For many American car enthusiasts, it’s hard to beat the rumble of a performance-tuned V8 engine. Eight cylinders have been the staple of muscle cars like Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro, even though their new six-cylinder engines now provide prodigious power and good fuel economy.

Until its all-new M3 and M4 models made their debut this year, BMW had shoehorned a muscular, 4.0-liter V8 in its M-tuned 3-Series coupes and sedans. And although the M performance heritage was based on smooth, high-revving inline six-cylinder engines, the V8 seemed to some like progress.


Back to the Future

BMW’s newest M-powered offerings, the M3 sedan and M4 coupe, have returned to six cylinders and you won’t hear a single complaint from anyone who has driven one of these great machines. It’s no secret that engine sizes are dropping like proverbial rocks with tough, new fuel economy targets for automakers to meet, but in most cases, performance hasn’t suffered.

In BMW’s case, the move down from 4 liters to 3 and two less cylinders is a win-win scenario. The M’s new twin-turbocharged six ups the horsepower from 414 to 425 while moving the torque way up from 295 to 406 pound-feet. What’s more, the car is nearly 200 pounds lighter and 25 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. On a racetrack or over challenging twisty roads, this M rules its very competitive class.


Fun with Forgiveness

I spent a full day with both the new M3 sedan and M4 coupe on the 4-mile long Road America racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and was never more impressed with a car that plays in this category. The BMWs are blindingly fast, easily reaching 140mph down Road America’s three straights and competition quick through the track’s 14 turns.

The factory brought earlier E36 and E46 racecars to the track and while they were louder and far less comfortable, they were no quicker than the new production M. And I was really surprised with how little work was required to push the new M3 and 4 to their limits. When you’re warming up a fast machine like the M on a challenging road course, it’s easy to get out of sorts when you’ve made too late an entrance or too early an exit in a turn. In those cases, the new Ms are quite forgiving, keeping their poise even when you’ve lost a bit of yours.


Decisions, Decisions

For performance enthusiasts who want a sports sedan or coupe that can do the daily commute then head for driving entertainment, there are lots to choose from. Audi’s RS 5, Mercedes C63 AMG and the Lexus IS F are all compelling, especially when their big V8 engines growl. But when BMW’s new M pinned me in its deep bolstered seat and howled to its redline, I was smitten. Add quick reflexes and superior fuel economy and it just seems like a more advanced machine.   BRIAN DOUGLAS


Four functional exhaust pipes make a signature under the functional trunk spoiler and M badge
Large air intakes dominate the M3’s aggressive face while large performance wheels and tires fill the flared fenders
Large air intakes dominate the M3’s aggressive face while large performance wheels and tires fill the flared fenders


2015 BMW M3 & M4

ENGINE: 3.0-liter Twin turbo I-6

HORSEPOWER: 425 @ 5,500-7,300 rpm

TORQUE: 406 lb.-ft. @ 1,850-5,500 rpm

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 17-city/26-highway/20 Combined

M3 BASE PRICE: $62,000

M4 BASE PRICE: $64,200


Photo Courtesy of BMW


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