2015 BMW M3 and M4: They’re Much Cooler Than You Think

Just like with the new Porsche 911 back in 2011, I have been following the F80 M3 and its newborn brother the M4 for more than a year ahead of its official debut. Before there was ever a press release, I was the guy listening to the spy videos for the sound of a 6-cylinder engine, the guy spreading the latest rumors at the local car gathering, secretly hoping they would be true.
Was I disappointed? No, far from it, but I’m sure some people who don’t get the M brand and what it stands for were. At the same time, I suppose a part of me is still connected to the outgoing M3 and its V8 engine, just like I was connected to the V6 of the Golf R32. It took a few good years to understand I was wrong to criticize VW for changing that car and I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.

Haters will hate! The 2014 Corvette Stingray guys will say the M4 is more expensive or that its 3.9 seconds is dismal compared to the 3.8 seconds of the American V8. AMG fans on the other hand will say the 2-liter, 360 hp A45 is more power dense and that the biturbo 3-liter is a joke compared to what Stuttgart has on offer. I know they’re dead wrong… but what if they’re not?

To cure myself of all these anxieties, I’ve looked at the formula from the German company’s angle. They don’t claim anything as crazy as Nissan’s ultimate lap times or Ford’s gigantic power figures. The 2015 M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe are simply high performance versions of the 3 Series and the spinoff 4 Series Coupe. What have they done to make these newcomers better? For starters, they went for a completely new type of engine, the first turbo fitted to the M3. For those worried that 3 liters and six cylinders aren’t enough, let me tell you the N55 was already an amazing engine before M Motorsport got a hold of it. After being completely made over, the M3 and M4 are left with something that has a very broad power band, lots more torque and is has 25% better fuel efficiency than the predecessor. All these incremental changes are attributed to two single-scroll turbochargers, Valvetronic variable valve timing and Double Vanos variable camshaft timing.

Manual M3s and M4s get a new six-speed with automatic rev-matching for downshifts, mated to a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) driveshaft. However, the gearbox you need to get the most out of the engine is the DCT auto, which has a smokey burnout feature. Cool suspension parts? They have that too, all made from aluminum: control arms, wheel carriers, axle subframe (bolted to the chassis for stiffness), rear subframe and more. Instead of rubber bushes, BMW switched to ball joints.

Then there’s the M brand itself. Of all the German performance brand, I love BMW’s the most. I don’t know why, but there’s just something cool about the letter “M”. Audi’s “RS” is something I’ll want when I’m old and boring and Mercedes “AMG” just sounds like “Add More Gas” or “we’ll charge you extra for a badge”.

One thing I don’t get though is the name. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted an M3, but now BMW thinks I want something with a different name. And like a little puppy who’s afraid of his squeaky toy, I’m apprehensive of the M4. I’ll look at it from a distance, play with it a little bit when it arrives in my driveway next year and realize I was afraid of nothing, missing out on a lot of fun. But really, this is somewhat of a cock-up on BMW’s part. Changing the 3 to a 4 is like Volkswagen suddenly calling all its Golf supermini “Passat”. You just don’t mess with people’s heads that way!

I’m the first guy to tell you that not all BMWs are brilliant, or that the M6 isn’t a true Ultimate Driving Machine. They are taking some much-deserved flack for that one. But their flagship was never that good and BMW keeps using it to “steal” money from 60-year old millionaires who need soft, heated, ventilated seats and are retiring to Florida in 5 years. M3s are for 30-somethings with an edge, the pack and deliver. They want carbon fiber braces under the bonnet, seat emblems that glow and smokey burnout traction control. Small is cool baby, so score one for the first turbo compact M!
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories