With so much information readily available about the new 425hp (431PS) six-cylinder twin-turbo-powered BMW M3 Sedan and its two-door sibling that has split from the 3-Series family and will be known from now on as the M4 Coupe, it was hard for the Bavarians to surprise us, yet they did.
How, you ask? Why, with the "Smokey Burnout" function on models fitted with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch M DCT Drivelogic transmission, of course. We heard and shared the rumor earlier today, but we can now officially confirm it and even provide some initial info on how it works.
In BMW's own press-blurb words, "the Smokey Burnout function allows the driver to indulge in a degree of rear wheel spin while the car is moving at low speeds."
For what it's worth, while the "Smokey Burnout" function was highlighted in the European release for the two cars, it was omitted from the North American version – at this point, we do not know if it will be on offer for the M3 and M4 sold on this side of the Atlantic.
One of the biggest changes brought along by the fifth generation of the M3 / M4 is a return to a straight-six engine, albeit with a twin-turbocharged twist, which allows for more power than the outgoing E90/E92/E93 M3's 4.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 that kicked out 414hp (420PS) at 8,300 rpm and 400Nm (295 lb-ft) at 3,900 rpm.
The high-revving inline-six is rated for maximum output of 425hp (431PS) from 5,500rpm to 7,300rpm, but far more importantly, a peak torque of 550Nm (406 lb-ft) between 1,850rpm and 5,500rpm, which outstrips the previous model by around 40 percent, yet also offers a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions of around 25 percent.
The improvements under the hood don't come with a weight penalty, and in fact, the M3/M4 are around 80kg (176 lbs) lighter on average than the outgoing M3 series. The M4 Coupe, for example, tips the scales at 1,497 kg or 3,300 lbs.
BMW states that the reduction in weight comes from the slimmer and 10kg (22 lbs) lighter engine as well as the increased use of lightweight materials, such as carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and aluminium for a number of chassis and body components. Both models feature a carbon roof, which is a first for the sedan.
Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a standard six-speed manual gearbox, which for the first time, has the so-called "throttle blipping" feature that improves smoothness of gear changes. Optionally, buyers can go for the seven-speed dual-clutch M DCT that comes with paddle shifters and a launch control function. Both transmissions include stop-start function, brake energy regeneration and optimum shift indicator.
As far as acceleration times are concerned, both the M3 and M4 hit 100km/h (62mph) in 4.1 seconds with the DCT and 4.3 seconds with the manual gearbox (0 to 60mph or 96km/h in 4.1 seconds with the standard 6-speed manual and 3.9 seconds with the optional 7-speed DCT).
Top speed is limited in both cases to 250km/h (155mph) in standard trim, and 280km/h (174mph) with the optionally available M Driver’s Package.
We don't have North American fuel economy figures yet, but on the European driving cycle, BMW says that both coupe and sedan return a combine fuel consumption of 8.8 lt/100km (equal to 26.7mpg US and 32.1mpg UK) with the manual, and 8.3lt/100km (equal to 28.3mph US and 34.0mpg UK) with the DCT.
Naturally, there's so much piece of gear on the M3/M4 that it would literally take a few hours of reading to get to the bottom of it, but if want an outline of what is important on the new model(s) aside from everything else we’ve mentioned here, we'll give you the skinny.
BMW mentions the twin-turbo engine's new cooling concept in which the air intake system includes an indirect intercooler, the Active M Differential, the Electric Power Steering (EPS) with three driving modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus), and the specially tuned electronic nannies such as the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system. There's also a Stability Clutch Control system that opens the clutch when the car is understeering to bring it back into line.
The two cars ride on a modified version of the platform used on the 3-Series sedan and 4-Series coupe with a lowered ride height and wider tracks (+34mm or 1.34 inches at the front, and 18mm or 0.7 inches wider at the back), with a reworked suspension on both ends, that includes the use of a carbon-fiber strut brace, aluminum control arms and subframes.
In standard trim, the M3/M4 will roll on 18-inch lightweight aluminum wheels in a staggered setup (front axle: 255 mm, rear axle: 275 mm width), with 19-inch rims offered as a, no doubt, pricey option. Powerful standard compound brakes and lighter BMW M carbon ceramic brakes will provide stopping power.
Much like the outgoing M3, the styling of the cars is aggressive in a suggestive manner, but is in no way overbearing, with a number of aerodynamic components, bloated wheel arches, fender vents, unique mirrors, a hood dome and other small trim details like the double kidney grilles.
Inside, you'll meet the typical M-dressed interior with carbon fiber elements, body hugging sports seats and unique driver controls. BMW said it has developed a free M Laptimer app, which allows owners to analyze their personal driving style once hooked up to their smart phone.
BMW said that its Munich plant will host production of the new M4 Coupe, while the M3 Sedan will be built in Regensburg, where 222,293 units of the second, third and fourth generations of the M3 combined have been produced since 1992.
The world premiere of both cars will take place at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this January, with sales in Europe to start around spring, and in the U.S., in early summer (as a 2015MY).
By John Halas