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      05-07-2014, 12:22 PM   #1
Jason
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Exclamation BIMMERPOST BMW F80 M3 / F82 M4 First Drive Review

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BIMMERPOST BMW M3 / M4 First Drive Review
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BIMMERPOST First Drive: BMW M3 / M4

Fear not: The M3 is with you.


By Jens Meiners, BIMMERPOST Correspondent

Photos: BMW


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Two weeks ago, the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid ushered in the era of the new sports car - or so it appeared. The "most revolutionary car we ever built," in the words of r&d board member Herbert Diess, combines a turbocharged three-banger and a torque-converter automatic with an electric motor mated to a two-speed e-axl. With mixed results: While the exotic hybrid caught everyone's envious gaze and provided impressive straight-line performance, it didn't shine in the corners. When politely asked to play, the i8's tires squeal in protest, and its flamboyantly styled tail flatly refuses to rotate.

While the i8 symbolizes "new sportiness," the M3 (which has been renamed M4 in its original, two-door configuration) has always been a beacon of the old school of high-performance cars. But there are irritating aspects to the new M3: it has grown, it's gone turbocharged, and the hydraulic steering has been replaced by an electro-mechanical unit. We have driven every generation of the M3 before; this writer has personally owned a Euro-spec E36 M3. After an inexplicably long time without the M3, which went out of production last summer, expectations are high. Can the new F80 (M3) and F82 (M4) meet them?

Having tested both the new M3 and the M4 on the twisty roads of Southern Portugal, and on the awesome and rather challenging Algarve racetrack, we submit that our expectations were not only met, but comfortably exceeded. The extensive under-the-skin changes to the M3 eradicated any suspicion that these cars might turn out to be simply glorified 335i's.

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The best turbo to date?

The M GmbH's direct-injected S55 engine is derived from BMW AG's N55 engine, and some parts are interchangeable, but its character and performance level put it in a class of its own. The powerhouse is force-fed by two Mitsubishi turbochargers and produces 406 lb-ft of torque from 1850 to 5390 rpm. At the very same 5390 rpm, the power rush reaches its peak of 425 horsepower, which remains available on a straight plateau up to 7300 rpm. The S55 redlines at a lofty 7600 rpm, affirming its status as an honest-to-god high-revving engine.

On the road, it simply works beautifully, ripping the F8x forward with far more authority than the outgoing E9x models with their 4.0-liter V-8. The new car takes off on a wave of torque and builds speed more quickly than ever. Driven hard in Sport and Sport Plus mode, there is essentially no turbo lag, as BMW keeps the turbos spinning by maintaining air flow as the driver gets off the throttle. Engine speed is reduced by cutting cylinders. The effect lasts for one or two seconds - enough to facilitate an immediate response when the car is driven hard. With this feature, the agility of the S55 is unprecedented for a turbo engine. Thanks to the broad usable torque and power band, it will be simply impossible for an E9x M3 to keep up with a well-driven F8x.

Top speed is governed at 155 mph; on some markets, BMW offers a limiter that relaxes the threshold to 174 mph. An ungoverned M3 could theoretically top 185 mph, says chief engineer Albert Biermann. His claim is entirely credible; our tester pulled relentlessly to 150 mph, at which point we found it advisable to approach legal limits again.

We'll take the manual

The F8x models come with a ZF-sourced six-speed manual, or a Getrag-supplied seven-speed "wet" dual-clutch automatic. The choice is tough. The dual-clutch tranny shifts quick enough to cut 0-60 mph acceleration by a whopping 0.2 seconds - from 4.1 to 3.9 seconds. And its gears are spaced so closely that the car will always remain in the peak power range when upshifting at the upper end of the scale. It executes instant shifts within the available rev range, and it remembers exactly how many times the paddles were pulled. In manual mode, there is no second guessing the driver by upshifting at the limit or offering a kickdown function.

Nevertheless, the six-speed manual still seems to be the truly appropriate choice for the F8x. Especially since this one is significantly lighter than the gearbox used in the predecessor, thus increasing the weight delta between a manual and an automatic M3 and M4 to almost 90 lbs. That is a truly remarkable figure; it helps to make the cars even more agile car - on top of the priceless feeling of being in total control.

One gimmick we could have done without is the rev-matching function of the manual. We don't need it, and it disappears in Sport Plus mode. We are also a bit underwhelmed by the sound. This straight-six is clearly audible and emits a throaty, aggressive note - but this modern soundtrack lacks the silky-smooth refinement of the E36 and E46's naturally aspirated six.

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Massive chassis refinement

Thanks to an extensively redesigned chassis, handling is far superior to the regular 3-series and 4-series. The front suspension features aluminum control arms, wheel carriers and subframes, and there is a carbon-fiber strut brace in the front. The electric power steering is an entirely new unit with a significantly stronger motor than the steering of the regular models in order to boost without delay for ultra-quick corrections under heavy pressure. Not only does it succeed at that, it is nicely weighted and precise - and no, we don't miss the predecessor's hydraulic power steering at all. In the rear, BMW has assembled a five-link axle with forged aluminum control arms. The rear subframe is bolted directly onto the body. Forged 18-inch aluminum wheels are standard, fitted with 255/40 rubber in the front and 275/40 tires in the rear. 19-inch alloys are offered as an option.

This chassis enables the driver to flog the car on the track and position it for corners with absolute precision. Rated at 3530 lbs (M4) and 3540 lbs (M3) lbs, the new car is relatively light - and it feels even lighter from behind the wheel. Okay, the stability control system kills the fun early in its standard setting, but it allows for noticeable drift angles in a medium mode - before inevitably cutting torque and speed. Our advice: Learn how to deal with oversteering - and keep the DSC deactivated. "Off" really means off in this car, and it is a pure joy to drive it on the track and let the electronic rear differential work its magic. This is a forgiving, predictable car - with a clear tendency to oversteer when asked. It simply does everything you want, all the time - and it's got enough torque to put significant amounts of rubber onto the road.

Four-piston compound brakes up front and two-piston brakes in the rear are standard; carbon-ceramic brakes with six pistons in the front and four pistons in the rear come at a hefty $8,150 premium. The adjustable, adaptive suspension will set you back by a modest $1,000.

Both the M3 and the M4 will be impossible to miss on the road, thanks to an aggressive front fascia, the carbon-fiber roof (which can be substituted with a moonroof that incurs a steel roof), wider front and rear fenders, larger air outlets, a Gurney flap on the trunk lid, and four brazen exhaust pipes. Inside, there is a bit more room than before - and more style, too. BMW has learned to do beautiful interiors, and while the optional, snug leather seats are handsome, we felt perfectly at home with the standard fabric/leather combination.

The real future

After we have seen the funky, video-game-like "sports car of the future" two weeks ago, we are glad to report that old-fashioned sportiness is alive and well - and has, in fact, achieved a level of perfection that would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago. The new M3 and M4 prove that electronics have ceased to detract from the driving experience - and now serve to make these cars better and more enjoyable than ever. At $62,000 for the M3 and $64,200 for the M4 Coupe, BMW's F8x models might seem expensive. Considering their capabilities, they are actually a steal.

BMW M3 and M4 Group

BMW F80 M3 First Drive - on Location - Portugal

BMW F82 M4 First Drive - on Location - Portugal

BMW M3/M4 Interiors - on Location - Portugal



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      05-08-2014, 06:00 PM   #2
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      05-08-2014, 06:00 PM   #3
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What we've all been waiting for. THANKS
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      05-08-2014, 06:00 PM   #4
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Awesome, time to read.
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      05-08-2014, 06:00 PM   #5
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cool
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      05-08-2014, 06:03 PM   #6
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Damn I want sport cloth but that contrast stitching looks AWESOME!
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      05-08-2014, 06:04 PM   #7
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      05-08-2014, 06:04 PM   #8
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m4 is starting to grow on me. damnit.
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      05-08-2014, 06:06 PM   #9
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I'm very curious to drive this car.

I had the E92 M3, and while it was a decent car - it was a little disappointing overall, especially compared to my previous Cayman S.
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      05-08-2014, 06:06 PM   #10
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Finally!
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      05-08-2014, 06:06 PM   #11
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Any video reviews?
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      05-08-2014, 06:08 PM   #12
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Can't wait for these beasts to get here!
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      05-08-2014, 06:09 PM   #13
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Hate the steering wheel.....but love the new seats and iDrive setup
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      05-08-2014, 06:10 PM   #14
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Very nice!
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      05-08-2014, 06:12 PM   #15
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Just the job, thank you very much!!
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      05-08-2014, 06:12 PM   #16
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DCT pricing typo has been fixed.
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      05-08-2014, 06:13 PM   #17
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Sounds promising. Can't wait to drive one!
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      05-08-2014, 06:14 PM   #18
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Thanks, can't wait - week 23 build!!
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      05-08-2014, 06:14 PM   #19
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Those are some good shots, but can we get a Chris Harris video already BMW??

I want to see this thing on a road to the racetrack, full track day and the drive home review. Its presence as a proper GT car is the most important factor. Heat, consumption and cost of running on road/track per the level of excitement it provides...all will still being able to pick up a liter of milk on the way home.
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      05-08-2014, 06:15 PM   #20
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This car looks SO good in black. Really don't want to deal with maintaining black paint though so I'm leaning towards MG.... Decisions, decisions...
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      05-08-2014, 06:15 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parky1215 View Post
Any video reviews?
Only in German. But they praise the engine and finishes off with something like:

Warning to the V8 fans. The 6 cylinder is a great engine, with great sound and pull.

They like the character of the engine and how it's response and rev willingness is



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      05-08-2014, 06:16 PM   #22
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Great write up and thank you. 6MT for the win!
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