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The BMW M performance brand is going back to its roots, while signaling clear change for the future. The 2015 BMW M3 sedan and 2015 BMW M4 coupe were revealed today, with both vehicles shedding some serious pounds, offering up more power courtesy of a twin-turbo I-6, and promising a continued focus on motorsports, thanks to extensive development time at the Nürburgring.
Though the sedan and coupe variants of the M3 now have more in common than ever before, they’re being marketed and sold as two separate nameplates. The sedan lives on as the 2015 BMW M3, while the coupe is split-off and will be sold as the 2015 BMW M4. Not only do the cars no longer share a name, they no longer share a production line either.
What the M3 and M4 do share is what’s important though. Powering the 2015 M3 and M4 is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo I-6 making 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque — 11 horsepower more and 111 lb-ft of torque more than the old 4.0-liter V-8-powered M3. Those bemoaning the loss of the high-revving, naturally aspirated V-8 shouldn’t miss too much, because the new I-6 will spin to 7600 rpm — that’s stratospherically high for a turbocharged mill.
Two transmissions will be available in the 2015 BMW M4 and 2015 BMW M3: a six-speed manual capable of rev-matched downshifts, and a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic. With the manual transmission, BMW says 0-60 mph will come in 4.1 seconds with the coupe or sedan, while the dual-clutch will need just 3.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph, thanks to standard launch control. The previous dual-clutch-equipped M3 accelerated from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds in our testing. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. With both transmissions lighter and more compact than before, BMW is promising big fuel economy gains.
Handling is equally important as speed in a BMW M3 (and M4), and BMW seems to deliver there too. The suspension of the 2015 M3 and M4 is almost entirely made of aluminum and forged aluminum, making the car both lightweight and stiff. Each M3 and M4 is shod with performance rubber mounted on forged 18×9 wheels up front and 18×10 wheels in back. The options sheet will include 19-inch wheels. An electronically locking rear diff is standard. A neat new feature on models equipped with the dual-clutch gearbox is what BMW calls Stability Clutch Control. Stability Clutch Control will open up the M3 or M4’s clutch when the car is under-steering, transferring weight to bring the car back in line.
BMW invested big in carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) in an effort to shave precious pounds, and it seems to be paying off with performance gains. BMW claims the new M4 weighs in hundreds of pounds lighter than the old M3 Coupe. BMW used CFRP in the roof of both the M4 and the M3 (a sedan first), and shows it off by leaving it unfinished on both cars. BMW claims the CFRP roof sheds 11 pounds from the M3’s curb weight, and more than 13 pounds from the M4’s, while significantly lowering the center of gravity. CFRP was also used for the single-piece prop shaft, and under the hood for the strut braces. The M4 makes further use of CFRP in its trunk. The M3 and M4’s front fenders and power dome hood were made from aluminum.
Visually, the 2015 BMW M3 and M4 look identical until you get to their rear ends. Up front, both the M3 and M4 have a menacing presence, courtesy of their purposeful front ends, complete with BMW’s Air Curtains, M gills, and Air Breathers — which are just fancy names for aerodynamic and cooling aids. Both the M3 and M4 also share their aerodynamically optimized twin-stalk rear-view mirrors. The M3 and M4 share most all of their profile features, except for their roof profiles. In back, the M4 looks both lower and wider than the M3, and sports different taillights. The M3 and M4 also both have different spoilers. The 2015 BMW M3 features a lip spoiler, while the M4 gets an integrated spoiler made from CFRP.
Those familiar with the interior of the BMW 3 Series and 4 Series will feel immediately at home in the 2015 M3 and M4. Each car comes standard with M sport seats, and sporty rear seats made of lightweight materials. An M Sport steering wheel is also standard, and is fitted with paddle shifters if the optional dual-clutch transmission is selected.
Though the 2015 BMW M3 and 2015 BMW M4 will come well-equipped, a vast array of options are available. Among the more interesting options are an M-specific head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, and the integration of the BMW M Laptimer — a smartphone app that plugs into the car and will allow the driver to download data like accelerator position, steering angle, and lateral acceleration while on the track. BMW’s full array of safety tech will also be available on the 2015 M3 and M4.
The 2015 BMW M3 and 2015 BMW M4 will be officially revealed in January at the 2014 Detroit auto show, and will go on sale in the summer of 2014. Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but expect the M3 to start around $65,000, and the M4 to start closer to $70,000.
|2015 BMW M3/M4|
|BASE PRICE||$65,000-$70,000 (MT est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 4/5 pass, 2-door coupe/4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.0L/425-hp/406-lb-ft twin-turbo I-6|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual; 7-speed twin-clutch automatic|
|CURB WEIGHT||3300-3400 lb (est)|
|0-60 MPH||3.9-4.1 sec (Mfr est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||N/A|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Summer 2014|