Although information and images have been rolling out on the new 2015 BMW M3 for several months now, the new generation of the automaker's iconic performance sedan is finally making its first pubic appearance at the Detroit Auto Show. For those of you who may have missed our earlier M3 first look, here's a quick recap of the key facts, figures and features that promise to keep it high on the most-wanted list of enthusiasts around the world.
As before, the M3's exterior incorporates a more aggressive M-spec design language that's most evident in its recast front and rear fascias. Up front, the remake brings unique character to the signature "angel-eye" quad headlamps - which can now be upfitted with optional adaptive LED units - a black-accented twin-bar kidney grille, more prominent air intakes with BMW Air Curtains and a deeper splitter set off by a classic power-dome hood. The M3 profile adds edge with M gills/Air Breather vents on the front fenders and flared wheel arches filled with 225/40 front and 275/40 rear rubber that encircles lightweight 18-inch forged alloy wheels. Less visible but no less functional is a lightweight CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) top panel that helps trim mass and lower the center of gravity. The bad-boy theme continues out back with body-colored lower diffusers, twin-paired exhaust outlets, unique taillamps and a subtle spoiler with a separate Gurney-style "spoilerette."
That overt enthusiast flair carries over to the passenger compartment where a full complement of M-style upgrades - from uniquely trimmed M sport front buckets and a dedicated instrument cluster to an M leather-wrapped steering wheel and M door sill plates - impart an unmistakable go-fast character to the realm. Even the 60/40 split-folding rear seat is made of lightweight composite and features a specially contoured backrest with an extra measure of lateral support.
The heart of the M3 - as well as its new M4 Coupe counterpart - is an all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged M-crafted inline-6. The first T-charged engine ever to be used in any M3 will make an estimated 425 horsepower, five more ponies than the naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V8 it replaces. However, the big change involves this new six cranking out a heady 406 lb-ft of peak torque - 38 percent more of those critical twist units - and serving it up from 1,850 to 5,500 rpm. While official U.S. specs are still pending, BMW indicates they won't be far off of those marks. The new M3 will have a standard 6-speed manual transmission that should let the car streak to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and offer an optional 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission that can trim that interval to 3.9 ticks. Top speed is an electronically limited 155 mph with either gearbox, and the new M3 is projected to deliver 25 percent better overall fuel economy.
Part of the M3's gains in efficiency can be attributed to a comprehensive weight reduction effort that slices roughly 180 pounds from the package, a loss largely attributable to the more extensive use of CFRP -- which also is found in the prop shaft and hood struts -- as well as the greater presence of aluminum in the hood, front fenders and fully redesigned suspension system. Those latter forged alloy chassis bits also help reduce unsprung weight, a factor that BMW says will ensure even more precise and agile handling.
Other notable chassis upgrades on the 2015 BMW M3 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 will come from extremely capable M-spec brakes, the M3 also will offer upgraded M Carbon Ceramic units.
The 2015 BMW M3 Sedan is set to arrive here in early summer. Prices, options and EPA numbers will be announced closer to its actual on-sale date.
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