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BMW reveals more M3 secrets

Rapid: New M3 hits 100km/h in a claimed 4.8 seconds - right behind M5.

More details: BMW confirms production M3 will be a direct lift of the bespoke concept

10 Apr 2007

THERE was both good news and bad contained in fresh M3 information released by BMW late last week.

As expected, when it appears in the metal at Frankfurt in September, the production version of the fourth-generation M3 super-coupe will be a direct lift of the wild, bespoke-styled concept that appeared at the Geneva motor show in March.

As the first pictures of the production car show, the next-generation M3 will therefore feature a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFP) roof, radically flared front and rear quarter panels (the former with now-trademark go-fast venting) and a bonnet comprising both twin air inlets and a prominent power dome.

That leaves the doors and bootlid as the only body panels to be carried over from the new 3 Series Coupe launched here last October. The headlights, tail-lights and windows are the only other external components to be lifted from the E92, making the forthcoming M3 the most unique example of the 20-year-old M-division nameplate.

14 center imageWhile the outgoing M3 CSL, as well as the current M6, both employ a carbon-plastic roof structure to lower both overall weight and the centre of gravity, the new M3's quad exhaust outlets, standard 18-inch wheels, unique wing mirrors, four specific paint colours and more aggressive front and rear bumpers further distinguish the M car from its lesser E92 siblings, including the ballistic new 335i twin-turbo.

As revealed in late March, the M3's M5/M6 V10-derived 4.0-litre V8 delivers 309kW at 8300rpm and 400Nm of torque at 3900rpm – figures that are identical to those of Audi's RS4 super sedan and wagon.

If there is any bad news, however, it's that kerb weight rises by 130kg to 1655kg as a result of the bigger coupe body, extra equipment and superior crashworthiness – and despite the fact the new V8 weighs 15kg less than the current M3's straight six.

Measuring 123mm longer (at 4615mm), 37mm wider (1817mm) and 25mm higher (1418mm), the new M3 rides on a 30mm-longer wheelbase (2761mm) and 30mm/14mm wider front and rear wheel tracks (1538mm/1539mm) respectively.

Despite the significantly bigger, heavier body, BMW claims the new M3 will still be four-tenths quicker than the model it replaces. Its 4.8-second claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time is also 0.1 seconds quicker than the current M3 CSL stripper.

And despite a weight-to-power ratio of 3.8kg/hp, BMW claims average EU fuel consumption of 12.4L/100km.

These figures are for the conventional six-speed manual version. So far this is only transmission confirmed for the next M3, and reports from Europe suggest there will be no sequential manual transmission (SMG) option.

This is a radical departure from a transmission technology that's been a hallmark of both the M-division's current M3, M5 and M6 (and has also filtered across to regular E46 3 Series), and adds weight to speculation BMW is developing a double-clutch manual transmission for the M3 - in the same vein as Audi's effective and popular DSG system.

For now, apart from its storming new V8, new M3 technology includes BMW's Brake Energy Regeneration system, which is claimed to deliver more battery power when required under acceleration.

Like the M5, the next M3 will also feature an MDrive button, which can switch between two power-steering modes (Normal and Sports), three engine maps and three suspension damping settings (Normal, Comfort and Sports).

Word is the M3 coupe will, for the first time, be joined by two-door coupe-convertible, four-door sedan and five-door wagon bodystyle derivatives.

However, expect pricing closer to the RS4's $164,500 sticker than the current coupe's $140,000 asking price when the most potent M3 coupe ever arrives here at the end of this year.

Read more:

First details: New M3’s V8 firepower revealed

First look: BMW's next M3 breaks cover

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