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BMW M3 saloon (2007) revealed

Published: 07 October 2007

I don’t know what to say…

Say thank you. It’s been nearly ten years since the last four-door M3 so it’s strange to see BMW’s most famous M-car with four doors again. However, we best get used to seeing this shape on our roads because BMW hopes to sell over 100,000 E92 M3s. And it’ll no doubt succeed too: there’s also a convertible model coming, and if you actually need a reason to buy this car then the 4.0-litre V8 that’ll be found in all M3s is an absolute peach. The M3 saloon will still have its work cut out for it though, as the new C63 AMG is one of Mercedes’ best ever cars, and after the success of the last RS4, the next hot A4 should be a cracker.

So what should I know about the M3 saloon?

Let’s start with that engine. It’s basically four-fifths of the M5’s V10. With individual throttles butterflies it’s one of the most advanced engines on the planet. And with 414bhp it also has one of the highest specific outputs per litre of any road car. That peak power also arrives at 8300rpm. Torque is 295b ft while BMW claims the new four-door will do 22.8mpg, exactly the same as the coupe. All this and that V8 is actually 15kg lighter than the old straight six. There is however a slight weight penalty compared to the coupe – 1680kg to the two-door's 1655g – and so the 0-62mph time is up a tenth of a second to 4.9 seconds. The M3 is (slightly) green though, as it comes with brake regeneration technology.

How come it looks just like the M3 coupe at the front?

BMW wanted to make a link between all its M3s, so that’s why the saloon gets the coupe’s snout. That means you get gaping grilles and intakes, a ‘power bulge’ and bonnet vents, plus those distinctive side ‘gills’. And to our eyes most of these pictures make the M3 saloon look very much like the M5, especially in this colour, which is no bad thing. The other parts shared with the M3 coupe, apart from that engine, are all the bits that make the two-door so special. That means you get the M-differential allowing for some tail-out action, plus switchable engine mapping. You can also pay more for the EDC electronic dampers and switchable steering.

I’m not sure about those rear lights though…

And you probably haven’t been sure about them since the 3-series was launched. Those rear lights, along with doors, roof, and windows are the only carry-over parts from the regular saloon. That’s right, there’s no carbonfibre roof on the saloon, sadly. So on this M3 saloon you get new forged aluminium suspension, those beautifully blistered wheelarches, quad exhausts and a rear diffuser. However, what you still get from the regular saloon are five seats, though how usable the fifth seat is depends on the size of your friends and family. Nevertheless, those two extra doors mean carrying others is now an awful lot easier and the slightly more refined and relaxed demeanour of the V8 M3 is probably best suited to the four-door.

So what happens if I want something a little harder?

Well you probably won’t want the M3 convertible which is the next M-car that’s coming. You’ll want the CSL then, which won't arrive until 2009, and hopefully with BMW’s long-awaited twin-clutch transmission. Sadly, BMW hasn’t yet signed off a Touring version which is a shame, especially when Audi and Mercedes have very credible alternatives. There are no obvious technical innovations to differentiate the saloon from the coupe, but then again we expect the saloon to be pretty damn good to start with. There are no pictures of the interior yet but expect it to look all but identical to the coupe's (above).

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy