The new BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe are bold statements

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Ok, here we go, here they are. The new BMW M3 and M4 available in standard or Competition guise. Faster, better, more capable, smarter, and yet….that nose.

We’ve all seen the new BMW design language emerge over the past year and have had enough time to consume and pontificate on the design merits of such a bold and striking facia. First though, let’s look at the new engineering and features of what are historically the M-division’s most important cars.

It used to be the M3 that was the halo car but since BMW diverged that model into what we have today, it’s the M4 which gets the coupe styling and most of the attention despite both variants offering the same features and performance.

The traditional in-line M TwinPower Turbo six cylinder engine remains—which given all the noise surrounding electric powertrains and hybrid engines—shouldn’t be taken for granted. The M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe pump out 353 kW (480 hp) and 550 Nm (405 lb-ft) of torque, doing the 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)] sprint in 4.2 seconds while the Competition variants raise the game slightly with 375 kW (510 hp) and 650 Nm (479 lb-ft) of torque 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)] in 3.9 seconds.

There’s DSC with M Dynamic Mode and optional ten-stage traction control system which would come in handy for those who venture into snow, rain, or simply want more choices when it comes to traction control.

That control philosophy lends itself to the braking system where two “pedal feel” settings can be made.

Both the M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe were tested alongside the BMW M4 GT3 race car but any suspension settings can be modified via the adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers. Plenty of chassis support and strengthening measures are in place such as bracing elements for the engine compartment, a front axle subframe with aluminium shear panel, underfloor bracing elements and a rear axle subframe with a rigid connection to the body.

Plenty of M-specific improvements throughout such as M Servotronic steering with variable ratio, front- and rear-axle modifications, M Compound brakes with M Carbon ceramic brakes as an option.

No M-car would go without multi-spoke wheels and the M3 and M4 get forged M light-alloy wheels: 18-inch on the front, and 19-inch on the rear (Competition models with M xDrive go up one inch all around).

What about gearboxes? Well, it seems manufacturers are listening to the cries of the minorities, the so-called purists who demand the return of the manual gearbox as an option (I’m one of them shhhh!), and so the M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe will be offered with a six-speed manual. Hurrah! However, the Competition models get an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic and three shift programs. And that’s just fine because most manual drivers won’t give two hoots about the performance gains the Competition offers anyway.

Inside there’s newly developed M sport seats and fine-grain Merino leather trim or customers can spec M Carbon bucket seats. You’ll also get no end of driver assistance systems and have the option to spec a Head-Up Display. The dash is all digital, with plenty of ability to change powertrain and chassis settings.

Customers can tick the carbon fibre package to apply the lightweight stuff on certain trim pieces such as the shift paddles.

M Drive Professional is a new option for M-cars which includes an M Drift Analyser, M Laptimer and M Traction Control. Ok BMW, we get it, lots of M!

For those a bit more hardcore, an M Race Track Package will be available reducing weight by around 25 kilograms through the use of M Carbon ceramic brakes, special M light-alloy wheels and M Carbon bucket seats.

From sometime around late 2021, Competition Coupe customers will have the option of speccing BMW’s all-wheel-drive system “M xDrive”. M xDrive links up with Active M Differential for a rear-wheel-biased setup and three selectable modes: 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD for pure rear‑wheel drive and deactivated stability control.

Let’s talk design

In a world where vehicle design is converging, BMW designers must’ve felt compelled to reach into the past and find something which defines the brand, and they found the kidney grille, big time. Some of BMW’s earliest models featured an oversized grill, mostly due to the structure of the front of the car.

We all get used to seeing cars evolve and iterate from one generation to the next but so bold is the change to the BMW kidney grill, most have responded or reacted negatively. Will time and familiarity soften that opinion? Perhaps, but maybe not to the extent that BMW won’t make design changes next generation. Careful analysis and customer research by BMW will only tell if the grill has had a negative impact on sales.

Here’s the thing. Most people haven’t seen it in the flesh, and none of us have had time long enough with it to really understand whether or not it’s successful. But the fact we are all talking about it suggests there’s something there, and that BMW should listen.

Let’s move on.

The rest of the package is typical BMW, continuing the aggressive stance of the M3 and M4’s older brothers. Big flared arches give a hugely menacing look, especially from that controversial front.

From the side, there’s a defined shape which runs down the A-pillar, behind the rear wheels arch and flicks back towards the rear giving the side profile a really strong visual presence in both M3 and M4 guise.

The rear is a little more conservative when considered as a whole, but no doubt those wide arches will plant the car nicely on the road.

The most important thing is it looks like an M-car. Aggressive, thug-like, and making no apologies.

M Performance parts

Not satisfied with a regular old M3 or M4? There is a catalogue of M Performance parts already available for customers which includes such things as titanium exhaust weighing five kilograms less, coilover suspension with the ability to adjust the ride height between five and twenty millimetres lower, sports brake pads, plenty of carbon fibre parts, forged wheels, a carbon and Alcantara interior package including an Alcantara M Performance steering wheel. Plenty of other options are available, too numerous to list here!

So does the new BMW M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe tempt you out of the previous generation? My bet is over time it will as customers start to familiarise themselves with the new design language and realise this is a striking example of an M-car that pushes our perception of what an M-car should be.

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