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      07-28-2007, 03:25 PM   #1
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Irish Times M3 Review

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/mot...751810360.html

The boss is back

The new BMW M3 is set to strike fear into its many fierce competitors, writes Paddy Comyn

The birth of a new M car from BMW used to be something that was as rare as an honest politician. However the past few years have seen a flurry of new models from BMW's "Motorsport" division. M5, M6 and Z4M Coupé and Roadster have all been released as new cars over the past three years. But for many a diehard BMW fan, there is only one M car and that is the M3.

The story of the M3 started back in 1986 with the idea for a highly-practical, series-production car fully suited to everyday use. Based on the then E30 version of the 3-Series, the M3 was like nothing anyone had ever seen. Not only did it look the part with its spoilers and flared wheel arches, but it walked the walk too - at a sprint. Originally conceived for just 5,000 units for the purpose of homologation, the M3 was an instant success. Its four-cylinder engine produced 195bhp but would eventually put out an awesome (for the time) 238bhp. By the time the E30 M3 finished production in 1991, almost 18,000 units were made.

The M3 story continued alongside the developments of the 3-Series, with the E36 model coming in 1992, with 286bhp from the six-cylinder power unit. This was followed in late 2000 by the E46 model, with its 343bhp high-revving six-cylinder added to by a lighter, 360bhp CSL version later in its lifetime.

All three-generations were held in godlike reverence by their fans. So big things are expected from the new one. And notwithstanding the pressure of its history, the M3 has new, fiercer rivals these days. The Audi RS4, with its snarling V8 and limpet-like Quattro grip has some serious credentials. We have seen, with the arrival of the M5 and M6, that the Munich boys are not afraid to wield the power sword about. Their M5 and M6 boast 5-litre V10 engines with over 500bhp, so it was no surprise to see the new M3 step up dramatically on that front. Under the new, bulging bonnet of the fourth-generation M3, based on the E90 Coupé but sharing just a handful of components, is a new eight-cylinder engine putting out 420bhp and 400Nm of torque. There are no turbochargers or superchargers employed here, just a high-revving monster putting its power down to the rear wheels. The new engine, despite the extra cylinders, weighs in at 15kg lighter than the six-cylinder unit in the old model, and features variable double-VANOS camshaft control to make the engine more responsive.

Both the front and rear suspension components are made from lightweight materials including aluminium and there is a variable M limited-slip differential which can generate locking forces of up to 100 per cent whenever required and when things get hairy.

The new M3 certainly looks the part. Apart from the actual structure of the car, only the doors, boot lid, windows and the front and rear lights have been carried over from the 3-Series Coupé. The M3 gets larger air intakes, flared arches, and a roof made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic to reduce overall weight and lower the car's centre of gravity. It also gets high-performance compound brakes to rein in all that power.

As usual there is the ability to customise the experience from within the cabin by various pre-selected configurations. MDrive allows for various alterations to throttle and steering response whether you prefer comfort or pin-sharp sensitivity.

Most notable of these is the electronic damper control which can dramatically alter the nature of the car's ride and handling.

Unlike the more recent M cars such as the M5 and M6 which employ a sequential automatic SMG transmission, the M3 uses a six-speed manual, a must for the purists. A sequential automatic will follow, but BMW tell us a number of options are being explored, but rumours abound of a seven-speed unit. Start the M3 and the burble of the V8 is an audio treat and when pulling away the response, while not as ferocious a snap as you will get from the M6, is incredibly rapid. This is a very fast car, without necessarily feeling that frantically quick.

Once you have fiddled with the setting to your best liking, the car is very playful. The grip is astounding, the Michelins gnawing into the tarmac defying most physics books. The steering is quite light but accurate and despite what some reviews have said so far, there is plenty of feedback from the wheel. The clutch is a little cumbersome at first, giving no real indication of its biting point and this can make the car tricky to drive smoothly, especially in town.

But when you get out to the twisty stuff this car really comes alive. The V8's snarl could get a little tiresome at motorway speeds as it revs quite high but the torque feels endless and those brakes are nothing short of brilliant. This is a more grown-up, more refined but more fun M3 than the last car, but somehow comfortable and quite easy to use. A mere 4.8 seconds gets you from 0-100km/h and the top speed, as usual, is limited to 250km/h. Allegedly the combined fuel economy figure is 12.4 l/100km, which is heavy enough, but driving this car as its makers intended would return even worse figures.

The CO2 figure of 295g/km won't get you a Christmas card from the Greens either.

If you want an M3 Coupé, then the news is that it arrives in Ireland this September and you will need €103,000 to get your hands on one. The big question is whether you would go for this or the Audi RS4. The Audi is probably more competent but we reckon less fun than the M3, and we will see an M3 Cabriolet and Saloon down the horizon to compete with the RS4 equivalents. BMW told us at the launch that they have no plans for a Tourer model due to the high cost of development for what would be very small volumes.

The M3 is as we expected, a faster, more refined and more aggressive evolution of the old car. But we didn't expect it to be so much fun.

A history of BMW M-adness

1987

Launch of first M3 based using a cut-down version of the six-cylinder engine from the M1. The resulting four-cylinder unit put out 195bhp. Later versions would put out 238bhp. Only made in left hand drive, these cars are now much sought-after collector's items. 18,000 were built.

1992

The second-generation M3 appeared based on the E36 model series.
This time there was a six-cylinder power unit putting out 286bhp.
This model was also built as a saloon and a convertible. 72,000 were built.

2000

Based on the E46 model series coupé, the third-generation M3 had a superb 343bhp engine. Again a six-cylinder, the CSL of 2003 debuted a carbon-fibre roof and used lightweight materials together with a more powerful engine to produce 360bhp. 90,000 were built in E46 format. ENGINE: 3999cc V8 with 420bhp and 400Nm of torque

Factfile

PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 4.8 seconds
MAX SPEED: 250km/h (limited)
FUEL ECONOMY: 12.4 l/100km
CO2 EMISSIONS: 295g/km
PRICE: €103,000
AVAILABILITY: September

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/mot...751810360.html
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      07-28-2007, 03:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epacy View Post
From Eau Rouge
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=171317

The boss is back

The steering is quite light but accurate and despite what some reviews have said so far, there is plenty of feedback from the wheel. The clutch is a little cumbersome at first, giving no real indication of its biting point and this can make the car tricky to drive smoothly, especially in town.

But when you get out to the twisty stuff this car really comes alive. The V8's snarl could get a little tiresome at motorway speeds as it revs quite high but the torque feels endless and those brakes are nothing short of brilliant. This is a more grown-up, more refined but more fun M3 than the last car, but somehow comfortable and quite easy to use. A mere 4.8 seconds gets you from 0-100km/h and the top speed, as usual, is limited to 250km/h. Allegedly the combined fuel economy figure is 12.4 l/100km, which is heavy enough, but driving this car as its makers intended would return even worse figures.
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      07-28-2007, 06:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epacy View Post
From Eau Rouge
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=171317

The boss is back

The new BMW M3 is set to strike fear into its many fierce competitors, writes Paddy Comyn

The birth of a new M car from BMW used to be something that was as rare as an honest politician. However the past few years have seen a flurry of new models from BMW's "Motorsport" division. M5, M6 and Z4M Coupé and Roadster have all been released as new cars over the past three years. But for many a diehard BMW fan, there is only one M car and that is the M3.

The story of the M3 started back in 1986 with the idea for a highly-practical, series-production car fully suited to everyday use. Based on the then E30 version of the 3-Series, the M3 was like nothing anyone had ever seen. Not only did it look the part with its spoilers and flared wheel arches, but it walked the walk too - at a sprint. Originally conceived for just 5,000 units for the purpose of homologation, the M3 was an instant success. Its four-cylinder engine produced 195bhp but would eventually put out an awesome (for the time) 238bhp. By the time the E30 M3 finished production in 1991, almost 18,000 units were made.

The M3 story continued alongside the developments of the 3-Series, with the E36 model coming in 1992, with 286bhp from the six-cylinder power unit. This was followed in late 2000 by the E46 model, with its 343bhp high-revving six-cylinder added to by a lighter, 360bhp CSL version later in its lifetime.

All three-generations were held in godlike reverence by their fans. So big things are expected from the new one. And notwithstanding the pressure of its history, the M3 has new, fiercer rivals these days. The Audi RS4, with its snarling V8 and limpet-like Quattro grip has some serious credentials. We have seen, with the arrival of the M5 and M6, that the Munich boys are not afraid to wield the power sword about. Their M5 and M6 boast 5-litre V10 engines with over 500bhp, so it was no surprise to see the new M3 step up dramatically on that front. Under the new, bulging bonnet of the fourth-generation M3, based on the E90 Coupé but sharing just a handful of components, is a new eight-cylinder engine putting out 420bhp and 400Nm of torque. There are no turbochargers or superchargers employed here, just a high-revving monster putting its power down to the rear wheels. The new engine, despite the extra cylinders, weighs in at 15kg lighter than the six-cylinder unit in the old model, and features variable double-VANOS camshaft control to make the engine more responsive.

Both the front and rear suspension components are made from lightweight materials including aluminium and there is a variable M limited-slip differential which can generate locking forces of up to 100 per cent whenever required and when things get hairy.

The new M3 certainly looks the part. Apart from the actual structure of the car, only the doors, boot lid, windows and the front and rear lights have been carried over from the 3-Series Coupé. The M3 gets larger air intakes, flared arches, and a roof made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic to reduce overall weight and lower the car's centre of gravity. It also gets high-performance compound brakes to rein in all that power.

As usual there is the ability to customise the experience from within the cabin by various pre-selected configurations. MDrive allows for various alterations to throttle and steering response whether you prefer comfort or pin-sharp sensitivity.

Most notable of these is the electronic damper control which can dramatically alter the nature of the car's ride and handling.

Unlike the more recent M cars such as the M5 and M6 which employ a sequential automatic SMG transmission, the M3 uses a six-speed manual, a must for the purists. A sequential automatic will follow, but BMW tell us a number of options are being explored, but rumours abound of a seven-speed unit. Start the M3 and the burble of the V8 is an audio treat and when pulling away the response, while not as ferocious a snap as you will get from the M6, is incredibly rapid. This is a very fast car, without necessarily feeling that frantically quick.

Once you have fiddled with the setting to your best liking, the car is very playful. The grip is astounding, the Michelins gnawing into the tarmac defying most physics books. The steering is quite light but accurate and despite what some reviews have said so far, there is plenty of feedback from the wheel. The clutch is a little cumbersome at first, giving no real indication of its biting point and this can make the car tricky to drive smoothly, especially in town.

But when you get out to the twisty stuff this car really comes alive. The V8's snarl could get a little tiresome at motorway speeds as it revs quite high but the torque feels endless and those brakes are nothing short of brilliant. This is a more grown-up, more refined but more fun M3 than the last car, but somehow comfortable and quite easy to use. A mere 4.8 seconds gets you from 0-100km/h and the top speed, as usual, is limited to 250km/h. Allegedly the combined fuel economy figure is 12.4 l/100km, which is heavy enough, but driving this car as its makers intended would return even worse figures.

The CO2 figure of 295g/km won't get you a Christmas card from the Greens either.

If you want an M3 Coupé, then the news is that it arrives in Ireland this September and you will need €103,000 to get your hands on one. The big question is whether you would go for this or the Audi RS4. The Audi is probably more competent but we reckon less fun than the M3, and we will see an M3 Cabriolet and Saloon down the horizon to compete with the RS4 equivalents. BMW told us at the launch that they have no plans for a Tourer model due to the high cost of development for what would be very small volumes.

The M3 is as we expected, a faster, more refined and more aggressive evolution of the old car. But we didn't expect it to be so much fun.

A history of BMW M-adness

1987

Launch of first M3 based using a cut-down version of the six-cylinder engine from the M1. The resulting four-cylinder unit put out 195bhp. Later versions would put out 238bhp. Only made in left hand drive, these cars are now much sought-after collector's items. 18,000 were built.

1992

The second-generation M3 appeared based on the E36 model series.
This time there was a six-cylinder power unit putting out 286bhp.
This model was also built as a saloon and a convertible. 72,000 were built.

2000

Based on the E46 model series coupé, the third-generation M3 had a superb 343bhp engine. Again a six-cylinder, the CSL of 2003 debuted a carbon-fibre roof and used lightweight materials together with a more powerful engine to produce 360bhp. 90,000 were built in E46 format. ENGINE: 3999cc V8 with 420bhp and 400Nm of torque

Factfile

PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 4.8 seconds
MAX SPEED: 250km/h (limited)
FUEL ECONOMY: 12.4 l/100km
CO2 EMISSIONS: 295g/km
PRICE: €103,000
AVAILABILITY: September

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/mot...751810360.html
It's great to read such an excellent review. Thanks for posting.
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