BMW M3 Concept: the lowdown
It's been scooped, spied and speculated about for months - but earlier today the covers finally slid off the new BMW M3... or the concept, at least. Yes, we'll have to wait a bit longer for the final production version, but these photos suggest that the M3 concept will go the same way as its bigger brother, the M5. BMW showed a similar concept of that super-saloon two years ago (even in the same gun-grey hue) and it went into production virtually unchanged. Be in no doubt, officials vow, this show car reveals 'almost exactly' how the new M3 will look when we finally see it in a few weeks' time.
Go on then, talk me through the changes
The M3 concept is based on the new-shape E92 coupe, but toughened up as befits the latest model from Munich's M division. The nose is set off by a deeper front spoiler with extra cooling ducts funneling air to the V8 engine; BMW still hasn't specified mechanical details, but we know it will be an eight-pot derived from the V10. The capacity is somewhere between 4.0 and 4.2 litres, churning out around 420bhp. Sitting atop that large-capacity engine are an unmissable power bulge and scooped-out bonnet air vents; it's unclear at this stage if these will make it to the production version.
It looks pretty mean...
Good news: it looks even better in the metal. Showgoers were universally impressed by the execution of the M3 concept. The gills and sills lend it an aggressive nature, but it's far from tacky. It's the first 3-series derivative that's set our pulses racing, after the dowdy disappointment of the E90 four-door and cautious but slick coupe and convertible. The roof on the M3 is going to be made from carbonfibre, like on the outgoing M3 CSL, to lower the centre of gravity, and it's topped off by a bee-sting aerial on the concept. The rear, meanwhile, is characterised by four chunky tailpipes and a reworked rear valance. Forget that 'M3 Concept Car' number plate; the production version will look damn near identical.
How frustrating - have they not announced any technical details?
Nope. BMW is teasing us with this one. However, CAR Online knows that the M3 will come with the active M differntial, which apportions drive to the wheels with the best traction, and allows for fun handling of the oversteer variety. Eighteen- or 19-inch alloy wheels are fitted, and a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed SMG semi-auto transmissions will be available. Expect the performance figures to knock on the door of supercar territory; we're talking 60mph in less than 5.0sec and a top speed pegged back to 155mph from what would otherwise head nearer 175mph.