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BMW M3 (2007): first official pictures

Published: 06 April 2007

BMW M3: the lowdown

This is the first look at BMW’s new M3 production car. You’ve seen the concept, you’ve heard the new V8 engine howl on this website, but today (April 7) CAR Online brings you eight pictures of the flagship 3-series coupe. The big news with the fourth-generation M3 is the switch to a 4.0-litre V8 engine, which produces some 80bhp more than the outgoing 3.2-litre six. But the new M3 also gets a carbonfibre roof – a gizmo previously reserved for the higher performance CSL version – to lower the centre of gravity. Other notable features include a new lightweight suspension overhauled to cope with the extra power, MDrive system to customise the damping, steering and engine mapping, and the muscular – but functional – bodykit. Expect the new M3 in UK showrooms in the autumn, with a likely list price around £50,000.

Under the bonnet

That square powerdome in the bonnet, flanked by twin intakes, is designed to draw attention to the M Division’s new V8. The 3999cc unit is designed to offer the best mix of performance and economy. Peak power is 420bhp, with maximum torque of 295lb ft. Some 85 percent of twist action is delivered across a 6500rpm power band, with the V8 revving to a heady 8400rpm. But it’s not just about outright power, but efficiency too. BMW claims a combined fuel consumption of 22.8mpg. And the M3 also recycles energy created during braking, using it to power the on-board electronics. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual ‘box, and the variable M differential. This apportions drive across the axle, depending on wheel speed and grip levels. And it should make for awesome sideways action.

Light weight

A host of weight-saving measures enable the M3 to weigh in at 1655kg. The overhauled front and rear suspension are made from aluminium. Using this material for the suspension arms and dampers saves 2.5kg alone compared with regular components. Then there’s the roof, constructed of carbonfibre-reinforced plastic and finished in clear paint so that the dark weave is visible. This shaves around 5kg off the mass. And the new V8 weighs in at 202kg – that’s 15 kilos lighter than the six it replaces. The net result? The M3 only has to lug around 3.8kg for every horsepower the V8 engine generates.

So it’s powerful and light – but how quick is it?

This M3 coupe despatches the 0-62mph sprint in 4.8sec. That’s fractionally quicker than the outgoing model. Top speed is again limited to 155mph. Performance is identical to that of the Audi RS4, which also has a V8 kicking out around 420bhp.

Design: up front

Aside from the bespoke, bulging bonnet, the front end is dominated by the new bumper. Three massive vents serve for cooling and to force air into the engine, and they mean no room for foglamps. The wings are adorned with the classic M gills, while the wedgy side sills are designed to draw the eye to the rear wheels. Standard tyre size is 18-inch, with 19s optional. The side mirrors are mounted on spindles – a feature inspired by an aeroplane wing – and are designed to reduce drag. Much of the M3 is bespoke. Indeed, only the doors, glasshouse, bootlid and lamps are carried over from the regular coupe.

Design: the rear end

The rear end is dominated by the four tailpipes, poking out of the chunky rear bumper. There’s also a sizeable vent to cool the differential. The bootlid is carried over from the regular coupe, but the M3 features a subtle lip spoiler.

Customise your M3

Owners will be able to personalise their M3. Like the M5 and M6, the coupe has an MDrive function, allowing the car to be set up according to personal tastes. You can bias the damping to normal, comfort or sport, easily deactivate stability control if you fancy going sideways, change the engine mapping or quicken steering response. Four paint colours will be exclusive to the M3, all named after famous circuits. There’s the Melbourne red pictured here, Silverstone silver, Jerez black or Interlagos blue.

The inside story

Although the dash is familiar, there are numerous touches worthy of an M car. Check out the kickplates, carbonfibre inserts everywhere and the white-on-black dials right in the driver’s eyeline. Key MDrive buttons – to toggle damping, power and stability control – are right by the manual shifter. And you sit behind a classic, black leather M steering wheel, in a figure-hugging bucket seat. Our turn in that place can’t come soon enough.

Customise your M3

Owners will be able to personalise their M3. Like the M5 and M6, the coupe has an MDrive function, allowing the car to be set up according to personal tastes. You can bias the damping to normal, comfort or sport, easily deactivate stability control if you fancy going sideways, change the engine mapping or quicken steering response. Four paint colours will be exclusive to the M3, all named after famous circuits. There’s the Melbourne red pictured here, Silverstone silver, Jerez black or Interlagos blue.

The inside story

Although the dash is familiar, there are numerous touches worthy of an M car. Check out the kickplates, carbonfibre inserts everywhere and the white-on-black dials right in the driver’s eyeline. Key MDrive buttons – to toggle damping, power and stability control – are right by the manual shifter. And you sit behind a classic, black leather M steering wheel, in a figure-hugging bucket seat. Our turn in that place can’t come soon enough.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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