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2015 BMW M3 and BMW M4 first looks

By Bob Nagy on December 12, 2013 8:39 AM
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In September, we brought you a first take on the technology inside of the new 2015 BMW M3 and 2015 BMW M4 models. Now, the automaker has released photos of its hot and notably lighter-weight sedan and coupe offerings along with even more mechanical details about this dynamic duo that will be making their official public debuts at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in January.

As indicated by the earlier factory images of disguised BMW M3 and M4 test mules, both of latest M cars feature aggressive reinterpretations of the standard 3 Series and 4 Series bodywork that Karim Habib, Head of Design BMW Automobiles, says has a visual impact that elevates the M design language "to a new level of expression, highlighted by a purposeful character, emotional appeal and dynamic verve."

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That exterior recasting starts with notably bolder front fascia treatments that include distinctive takes on the signature "angel-eye" quad headlamps - now available as optional adaptive LED units - black-accented twin-bar kidney grille, oversize air intakes on the lower valence area, BMW Air Curtains and a deeper splitter counterpointed by a power-dome hood whose character lines flow back and on over the lightweight CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) top panels found on each car that help trim mass and lower the center of gravity. 

Profile views on the new M3/M4 are enhanced by unique M gills/Air Breather vents on the front fenders and muscular wheel arches filled with 225/40 front and 275/40 rear rubber wrapped around lightweight 18-inch forged alloy wheels. Beyond their respective rooflines, the major area of exterior divergence between the M3 and M4 is found at the rear. While edgy fascias and body-colored lower diffusers with twin-paired exhaust outlets are shared, each sports a unique taillamp configuration and the M4's decklid features an integrated spoiler lip while the M3 has a separate Gurney-style "spoilerette."  

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Inside, the cabin treatments of both the M3 and M4 boast the typical array of M-spec enhancements, from uniquely upholstered M sport front buckets and a custom instrument cluster to an M leather-wrapped steering wheel and M door sill plates. The 60/40 split-folding rear seat is made of lightweight composite and features a specially contoured backrest with added lateral support.

As we reported earlier, this new, fifth-generation M3/M4 family promises to set new benchmarks in overall performance thanks to a serious reduction in curb weight, a bump in power and enhanced chassis engineering. The more extensive use of CFRP in the top (as well as the decklid on the M4), prop shaft and hood struts coupled with aluminum hood and front fenders plus even more lightweight aluminum in the redesigned front/rear suspension components have sliced about 180 pounds off the M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe compared to their respective M3 predecessors.

BMW also has confirmed the all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged M-designed inline-6 - the first T-charged engine in any M3 - will make 425 horsepower. While that ends up being a modest five more ponies than the current 4.0-liter V8, the big news here is that the new six also develops 406 lb-ft of peak torque - a huge bump of 38 percent in those critical twist units - and does so in a broad plateau that runs from 1,850 to 5,500 rpm. The caveat here is that final U.S. specs are still pending, but don't expect either figure to vary by much. Backed with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, BMW says the engine will take either car from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds while stepping up to the optional 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission will cut that benchmark interval to just 3.9 ticks. Top speed is an electronically limited 155 mph, and the powertrain is still projected to deliver 25 percent better overall fuel economy .

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Beyond new forged alloy suspension bits that help reduce unspring weight, the new M3/M4 will boast even more precise and agile handling thanks to a host of chassis enhancements that include a new electromechanical power steering system with driver-selectable Comfort/Sport/Sport+ assist levels, an Active M Differential and an available Adaptive M suspension, also with Comfort/Sport/Sport+ operating modes. While base stopping power on the M3/M4 will come from extremely capable M-spec brakes, those planning regular track-day excursions also can opt for upgraded M Carbon Ceramic units.

The 2015 BMW M3 Sedan and 2015 BMW M4 Coupe will go on sale here early next summer. Prices, options and EPA numbers will be announced closer to their actual arrival in showrooms. 

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