Not long ago, goose bumps came as statutory company when race-tracks around the world were being enamored by the V8 chorus that F1 cars so laboriously emitted. To a slight dismay, things became aurally shallow when the shift to turbocharged V6 power was made. The stands and pits no longer echo with the banshee shrieks as slowly and steadily flat natured, less vibrant sounds fill the motorsport space. Much of this downsizing can be attributed to the overall global environmental calamity that we are slowly sinking into. Big, lusty, naturally aspirated motors are disappearing slowly, to make way for smaller, force induced, tree hugging power plants that emit less poison in the air. Modern sports cars get the job of quality motoring done in a clinical manner, without feeling the need to noisily emote, like in the past.
With that, the definition of a fast car’s underpinnings are slowly taking a major overhaul, and something like BMW’s i8 electric hybrid sports car is leading that change. But thankfully, their M Division still knows how to celebrate internal combustion, and the wraps were off from the new M3 and M4 twins last year, which follow M’s philosophy of sports cars that claim to have you grinning from ear to ear on the track, and still drop your kids to school without any fret. Yet, with lesser endowed but strong, turbo-charged engines, they herald a new era for M cars.
The new F80 series BMW M3 and M4 share the same, engine-downsizing sentiment with their gushy, turbo-charged, inline six cylinders of M TwinPower engine, waving those eight cylinders in vee from the last-generation M3 goodbye. So when the new M3 and M4 were revving their nuts off and flying by at the Buddh International Circuit on a wintry morning, we felt a tinge of remorse at the noise, which marked the end of an era as far as old school fast cars go. But we’re here to drive them, and that’s what we did.
M4 you ask?
After its illustrious past which started from the legendary E30 M3, the baby M range (before the M2 arrives) has split into two for 2014. It’s just a name to differentiate the coupes from the sedans, as the last generation M3 also spawned a coupe (E92), sedan (E90), and a convertible (E93).
For 2014: M3=Sedan (F80); M4=Coupe (F82)/Convertible (F83)
The new nomenclature can be attributed to BMW’s new numerology- even numbers denote coupes/4-door coupes/coupe based SUVs, while odd numbers denote sedans and proper SUVs. So, strictly going by past nomenclature, the new M4 is actually a M3 coupe, while the M3 sedan is, well, a M3 sedan. Anyway what’s in a name?
Stare at the gnarly front, and you can identify the humble 3 Series/4 Series stare back, shrouded somewhere amongst the M-specific, aggressive front bumper work, the flared bonnet and the stunning Austin Yellow paintjob.
For the M3/M4, traditional BMW elements like the chrome lipped twin-bar kidney grille now come with black grille bars- reflecting the design of those tasty M double spoke wheels. The right kidney bears a M logo now.
The headlamps reminisce of the 3 Series/4 Series, but for the M3/M4, there’s an optional all-LED treatment. The long bonnet gets something called a power dome- a small rump on the surface, to create some breathing space for the forced-induced motor’s inter-cooler.
The front bumper has its share of M-like muscled flares and deep vents, with all that powerful contouring marking a fine balance between style and aerodynamic functionality.
The sides have the 3-Series/4-Series in them as well, save for the pumped up wheel arches; functional fender placed M gills and some sporty skirting. The M3 and M4 put forward the best iteration of the hallmark BMW proportions- a long bonnet, long wheelbase, set-back glasshouse and a short front overhang.
Familiar M design elements like the newly designed M gills, which have integrated Air Breathers to team up with the Air Curtains up front to optimize airflow around the wheel arches, accentuate the stance, along with those tasty 18 inch light alloy, M double spoke wheels. Then there are the striking wing mirrors, which have horns, but are also designed to optimize the airflow around it.
Sexy 18 inch light alloy, M double spoke wheels, wrapped by sticky 255/40 ZR18 95Y (front); 275/40 ZR18 99Y (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber.
The rear is where the M3 and the M4 differentiate themselves visually. While the M3 adds a couple of extra doors and ends up as a sedan, the M4 follows a classic, coupe profile.
While the swooping roof-line of the M4 ends in a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic tail gate with an integrated rear spoiler to reduce lift, the M3 has to do with a Gurney rear spoiler. Rear illumination is borrowed from their humbler 3-Series/4-Series cousins.
Both cars also have CRFP roofs, all in the name of losing flab and better structural integrity. While the rear bumper reflects the car’s athletic potency like the one on the front, there’s also a new, slanting pair of twin exhaust tail pipes, framed like jewels with its integrated diffuser.
Beautiful, chrome licked exhaust tips: wish they emitted something more sonorous though
The cabin carries over the familiar, and already driver focused interior architecture from the 3 Series and the 4 Series, with M piping in a few sportier elements to go along with the character.
Trust M to lace your dashboard and innards with carbon-fiber.
A host of traditional BMW M equipment details including M door sill finishers, an M driver’s footrest, M gearshift lever, M-design circular instruments with white graphics, M leather steering wheel with chrome trim, color contrast stitching and electroplated-look shift paddles.
Leather adorned, thick-rimmed, M Sport three spoke steering feels great to hold.
Instrumentation is simple, clean, legible and fuss free- a true drivers’ car
M door sill finishers; try not getting them dirty
The trademark M Drive Selector lets you choose between automatic and manual (flappy paddle/selector lever) modes for the 7-speed DCT.
Center Console is carried over from the 3-Series and 4-Series; which isn’t a bad thing
The trademark iDrive Touch Controller (part of Navigation System Professional) enables the improved, 2014 iDrive system to be operated with a single hand.
The foot-well has ample space for your twitchy feet and the pedals are nicely spaced; we would have loved some drilled, aluminum pedals though- these don’t fit the character of the car much
The massive, M-logo adorned, sporty front seats take inspiration from bucket seats fitted in racing cars, featuring full-size single-piece back panel. With a flat construction, a low-set position, and high, width-adjustable bolsters, the front seats offer excellent support when the going gets fast and twisty.
Ingress to the M4 Coupe’s 2nd row is via putting the front seat’s huge back-rests down
While the M4’s seats were upholstered in black leather; we saw some beige on the M3’s seats and door pads. BMW Individual offers further customization options for the M3 and the M4
While the M3 will happily take a couple of your friends at the back, the M4’s back row however is strictly limited to midgets. In the M4, ingress to the rear isn’t much of a chore, with the motorized front seat leaning and sliding all the way to the front.
The M4’s second row: spare your bottom for the back seat of the M3 instead
There are a very few cars in the world which have a 480 liter boot and still wallop your behind from 0-100 km/hr in just 4.1 seconds. The M3 is one of them; the M4 comes close at 445 liters of boot.
Performance on the track
Back to the new M TwinPower direct-injection petrol engine, it’s all of 3 liters and has a in-line six cylinder setup (4 valves per cylinder), which along with a couple of fast-responding mono-scroll turbochargers collectively produce 431 bhp, all of which is delivered between 5,500 rpm and 7,300 rpm- the redline, which is quite optimistic for a engine running on forced induction. Where it totally smashes the E90 M3 is the peak torque produced, which, at 550 Nm and spread over a wide 1,850-5,500 rpm band is 40 percent more than the last M3’s prowess. Coupled with the optional 7 Speed Dual Clutch Transmission, the M3 and M4 go like stink from 0 to 100 km/hrs, taking just 4.1 seconds with Launch Control. Top speed is an electronically limited 250 km/hr.
So how does it go? To start off, there are three modes/settings for the throttle response, electric power steering, the suspension and the Active M differential- COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+. Depends on what driving style floats your boat at that moment, you can adjust each of the above system’s responsiveness and feedback.
The noise, as mentioned before is a bit of a downer here and the M4 sounds flat-chested. In fact, it’s a bit of a shame as BMW pumps noises from the exhaust back into the cabin through the superb Harman-Kardon sound system. And no- you can’t it without having to disconnect the entire sound system.
The M4/M3 pulls like stink, with the turbo-charged motor allowing for eerily uncharacteristic lightning quick throttle responses all throughout the power band, almost giving the feel of a naturally aspirated motor. Almost, because in COMFORT mode with everything else pegged at their laziest settings, there’s a smidgen of lag if you mash your foot down, but nothing worth complaining. The high-revving motor offers oodles of torque, and it builds right from the word go, hurtling all of 1612 Kgs (wet) of M4 and 1635 Kgs (wet) of M3 towards the horizon in turbo-charged fury. The linear power delivery manages to mask its force induced credentials really well, making the M3/M4 extremely usable and energetic on the road as well as the track. The 7 speed DCT makes life better, with brutal, fast up shifts in manual mode, with the Drivelogic system also taking care of slower paced outings, where up-shifts and down-shifts in automatic mode are extremely intuitive depending on the driver inputs.
Various go-faster buttons for fine-tuning your driving dynamics (includes suspension, steering & throttle response) according to your motoring mood. COMFORT,SPORT and SPORT+ are the words you need to know here.
Ride and Handling on the track
The new electromechanical steering system also marks a new era for fast cars and find its way to the new M4. The steering offers a choice of three modes; COMFORT,SPORT and SPORT+, each of which allow for varied level of steering assistance to be adapted to suit the mood. We prefer the SPORT setting, which provides a very nice amalgamation of precision, response and feedback. In a characteristically vague way that befits these new fangled electric steering setups, you have a fair idea of what the front end is up to and point it in a direction and shoot, though the instantaneous response and positive feedback is highly commendable in both the cars. As far as general disconnect issues from these setups go, the M3/M4 have them ironed out as far as they can go.
The M3 looks fetching in Yas Marina Blue- the metallic paint-job is a 35,000 rupee (approx.) option.
With the new M4/M3, you arrive at a corner, pick up bags full of joy mid-way and then exit with a tail-happy flourish. Turn-in and front end grip is astounding, and there’s no perceptible under steer, with the Active M differential at the back optimizing traction and directional stability all the time. You have to really fight with the car to get it unsettled at any point, unless you’re quite the keen one and put it into the M Dynamic Mode, which makes the Dynamic Stability Control system let the Active M differential to allow greater wheel slip and therefore easier drifting. However, we didn’t a chance to smoke any tires as it was a controlled media event.
The balance of the aluminum intensive chassis is just outstanding, with the Ms responding brilliantly to eager inputs on the throttle and the steering resulting in a deeply satisfying motoring experience. The Adaptive M suspension has been honed for the track as well, and uses lightweight aluminum construction for components such as control arms, wheel carriers and axle sub frames, which collectively save over 5 Kgs as compared to a conventional setup. Likewise, there are the COMFORT,SPORT and SPORT+ settings here as well, enabling the driver to choose between a comfortable damper setting for lazy driving, a stiffer set-up for some enthusiastic driving on country roads, and a third option that makes things stiffer for dynamic atheletism on the track. While the ride is commendable for a sports car in COMFORT, the SPORT + is quite bone jarring and should definitely be reserved for the track. The SPORT is quite usable when the going goes twisty, although in urban conditions, we hear it’s a bit of a hard ride. At the track we only played around in the hairiest SPORT+ setting.
The brakes- Oh, my God! Those optional, inner-vented, perforated Carbon Ceramic brakes with four-piston calipers in front and two-piston calipers at the back know how to haul down some car. One needs to get used to its brutal workings at first, especially the strong, initial bite, but once they’re on the boil, braking performance is just phenomenal and encourages late braking. Even after whipping the Ms on the track for a fair bit, there was minimal fade.
Family cars don’t get any better than the BMW M3 and M4 twins. Agreed, it’ll doesn’t have that purist’s air like the Porsche Cayman S does, but the idea of being scarily fast even with the dog and kids in tow is immensely appealing and far reaching. The everyday usability and superior dynamics mean it’s no ordinary fast car. Delving deeper into the driving experience lets one explore the M4’s stupendous capabilities when tackling the track. Be it the excellent turn-in, the massive grip, the extremely well balanced chassis or the extremely potent, new-age motor, the M4 is contemporary motoring nirvana. One can do with the slightly synthetic noise, and can always opt for an aftermarket system to rescue the cause. And did we say that we just love the way it looks in Austin Yellow or Yas Marina Blue- yeah, they paint quite the picture. Priced at INR 11,980,000 for the M3, and INR 12,180,000 for the M4, they are not really cheap toys for the weak hearted, but if you have the means, we highly recommend picking one of these. The M3 makes for a more practical package, what with its usable second row.
BMW M3/M4 Technical Specifications
|Cylinders/valves||6 / 4|
|Capacity in ccm||2,979|
|Stroke/bore in mm||89.6 / 84.0|
|Max. output in kW (hp) at 1/min||317 (431) / 5,500-7,300|
|Max. torque in Nm at 1/min||550 / 1,850-5,500|
|Compression ratio : 1||10.2|
|Unladen weight EU in kg||1,572 [1,612]|
|Max. permissible weight in kg||2,040 [2,040]|
|Permitted load in kg||543 |
|Permitted axle load front/rear in kg||970 / 1,130 [970 / 1,130]|
|Tyre dimensions front||255/40 ZR18 95Y|
|Tyre dimensions rear||275/40 ZR18 99Y|
|Wheel dimensions and material front||9 J x 18 inches, light-alloy|
|Wheel dimensions and material rear||10 J x 18 inches, light-alloy|
Head to the gallery below more images of the 2014 BMW M3 and M4