What used to be known as the M3 sedan and M3 coupe is now just the M3 and M4. BMW feels saying M3 sedan and M4 coupe is just redundant. Much like emphasizing performance when talking about an M, as the letter M has long signified superior capability when used with a number and placed on a BMW product. Let’s hope nothing has changed there!
Heading to Road America for some early drive time in the 2015 BMW M3 & M4 sounded like a wonderful idea! Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and after just a few laps, it all turned into a rain soaked affair. But that never stops us, so we took it to the street to get our impressions. And while the coupe has always been our favorite, the name M3 has more cache with us, so we spent most of our time in that, 4-doors and all.
Bimmerphiles will be happy to note that it’s a twin turbo-charged 3.0-liter I6 under the hood in both of these rides, not a V8; and that both horsepower and torque are up. Horsepower has risen just 11, now at 425; but torque sees a healthier increase of almost 40% to 406 lb-ft. The engine feels seriously strong, with bunches of low-end torque, minimal turbo lag, and brutal application of acceleration, carrying the power all the way up to its 7,600 RPM red line
An all-new, lighter 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but it’s the optional 7-speed M-DCT auto that is the fastest to 60 in 3.9-seconds. Though it will cost you a hefty almost 3-grand extra. Both come with downshift rev matching. When pushed hard, the DCT is fast and firm with shifts, but can also be smooth and friendly when you’re moving along at daily driver pace.
There are plenty of electronics and hardware pieces helping you deploy all of that power to the road through the rear wheels, including a carbon fiber driveshaft and an active M differential.
After packing on the pounds for the last few generations, this M3 sees a weight reduction with more carbon fiber and aluminum, as well as a significant amount of poundage taken out of the powertrain. A 6-speed manual M3 now comes in at 3,540-pounds, and is just a bit nose heavy with not quite the perfect 50/50 split.
Exterior modifications include a Carbon Fiber Reinforced roof, and the usual air manipulation for both downforce and additional cooling; through the use of larger air intakes in the front apron, sculpted side mirrors, and a deck-lid spoiler. New additions are a larger front fender vent and 18 or 19-inch forged wheels.
An expected power-dome hood adds some front aggression, but the car looks its meanest from the rear; where the wide surface is full of cuts and sharp angles, and double up dual exhaust tips protrude menacingly.
Likewise inside, things are sported up with an M steering wheel, gearshift lever, gauges, color stitching, and aluminum and carbon-fiber trim work. The layout is the familiar BMW driver-focused arrangement with materials all very good in quality.
M Sport seats feel snug with the perfect amount of bolstering. Rear seats offer a great amount of support, and backs fold 60/40 to expand the trunk’s 12.0 cubic-ft. of space. Much like its larger M5/M6 siblings, suspension pieces are mostly aluminum and the rear sub-frame is now directly bolted to the body.
Optional Adaptive M suspension can further your mission, whether that’s flatter handling or comfortable highway cruising, as it is more comfortable in Comfort Mode, and far sportier in Sport+ mode.
As for the common BMW steering complaint, it’s now electromechanical here, and feel or no feel, it’s hard to argue with the amount of precision that you can dial into the adaptive system.
These M’s get upgraded brakes of course, as well as optional carbon ceramic discs. You could certainly do fine without them, but if you plan on hitting some track days with the club, they are a worthy upgrade.
All of this works together to give the M3 and M4 the high speed stability of a full size car, and the fun factor of a hot hatchback, but like everything else in our world, things have also gotten more complicated and less intuitive. And in typical M fashion, there feels to be the perfect amount of power, as it never overwhelms the chassis.
With a new auto stop/start system, Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an M3 DCT are 17-City, 24-Highway, and 19-Combined.
Pricing starts at $62,950 for the M3 and $65,150 for the new M4.
Say what you want about BMW and their renaming debacle, these 2015 versions of the M3 and M4 have gained both more performance and more friendliness; along the way fully encapsulating what BMW does best. The now four-door M3, and its renamed two-door stable mate, the M4, continue to be to us the ultimate… ultimate driving machines.
Torque: 406 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
EPA: 17 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway