The evolution of BMW M3 series
The ultimate driving machine. This is how they call BMW M3 series. And it is for a reason. The MOTORSPORT division of BMW did their best to deliver the best possible experience from a BMW .
How it all began
In 1986 the first M3(1986-1992) was introduced. It was on the basis of E30 and had a 2,3 4 cylinder engine with 195 hp. The reason why the first M3 was actually produced was to homologate the car for the tourist car championship where it would compete with the Mercedes 190 EVO. Two more engines were used for the first M3. A 2 litre, 4 cylinder engine and also a 2,5 delivering the massive 250 hp, still naturally aspirated. The 2,0 version could be easily recognized, it lacked the curves of the wide arches. It seems like the M3 version does not have much in common with the regular e30. Besides the hood, roof panel, and sunroof it did not have much in common. These 4 cylinder engines were only reserved for the M3, and so was the firm suspension.
The 6 cylinders(E36)
Although nowadays 6 cylinders in a row is almost dead as conception, when the E36 M3 showed on the market, things seemed a little different. 1992 – the new M3 was introduced. With a 3 litre engine, 6 cylinders and output of 286hp. At first all M3s were based on coupe, but later the sedan and convertible models could also carry the M3 badge. Later in the production a more powerful engine was to be used - a 3,2 with 321hp . What is interesting, models sold in North America had 240 hp, regardless 3,0 or 3,2. Also, the 6 speed gearbox was never available in North America.
A special version – the M3 CSL is definitely worth mentioning. This model was sold with a trunk full of goodies to improve the performance of the car. Why they were not put directly into the car? Very simple, buying this version, the customer would sign a legal paper that they were aware installation of the latter would void the warranty of the car.
The production of E36 M3 seized in December 1999 with the convertibles being produced last.
The E46 M3
The next M3 came in October 2000. The engine is a 3,2 liter with code S54 - 343 hp available. What is new is the SMG II drivelogic transmission. It is basically the standard 6 speed manual but with electrohydraulically actuated clutch pedal. The E46 also had a CSL version, which is a real sports car that one could drive home. This version is cut off in terms of all unnecessary gadgets you do not need for the track, it does not even come with AC, stereo or navigation system.
What's on the market now?
Well, it is the E90/92/93. First introduced in 2007 it did have a thing or two to show. The new M3 was a totally different car compared to its predecessors. First of all it has two more cylinders. Despite the return of the turbo mania, the new M3 is naturally aspirated. To be more precise it is a 4,0 litre v8 engine with 420 hp available at 8300 rpm. The latest M3 comes with a 6 speed manual or the optional M-DKG transmission which reduces the 0-100 time with 2 tenths of a second. The E92 M3 also has a light weight carbon-fiber roof to reduce the weight and lower the centre of gravity. At first the new M3 was supposed to be called… M4, but BMW realized this might not be well perceived by the customers and people who liked the traditions created more than 20 years ago. Many people say that market researchers and accountants are more and more involved in the build of cars. It seems like this has had some impact on the ultimate driving machine. The convertible suffers from the heavy mechanics that take care of the roof and the result is 1880 kg curb weight – not a good prerequisite for agility and speed.
A special model is also available(A special M3, ironic right). It is called the GTS. The 4,0 litre engine has been further developed to become 4,4 and to provide 450hp. What is more, it weighs about 150 kg less than the regular M3 making it a true beast on the road… or track. The production of GTS started in May 2010. Today all 250 GTS M3s have been sold.
To be continued…