The unveiling of BMW’s new M3 concept car at last week’s Geneva autoshow has, as we expected, created quite a stir in the automotive world.
As with any new car, reaction to the M3’s styling was mixed across automotive fandom. Progressive enthusiasts loved the huge lump in the hood created by the new V8 motor, while the traditionally minded lamented the good old days of M3s past.
Sorry guys, but this is 2007. BMW, unlike certain other German sports car manufacturers, has shown a remarkable willingness to change with the times. This change comes too fast for most, but the folks in Munich truly live on the cutting edge. The styling of the current 7-series raised hell when it came out, but other carmakers have borrowed many of its design touches over the years, some of which have become industry standards. We think the same thing will happen with this new M3.
Another source of controversy is BMW’s engine choice for the new M3. This is the first time any production 3-series has been fitted with a V8 motor at launch time, and we’re sure that will upset some BMW purists. However, there is more than one reason for this considerable break with tradition.
The M3’s main competitors, namely the Audi S4 and Mercedes CLK63, use big, honking V8 motors. Although we have complete confidence in BMW’s ability to make an inline-six to compete with these musclebound machines, we do concede that the majority of the M3’s buyers might not have seen it that way.
Another consideration is racetrack performance. BMW made a huge splash with its M3 GTR in 2001, which raced successfully in the American Le Mans Series. Endowed with a 4-liter V8 making 450 horsepower, the GTR dominated the field in 2001, clinching the GT class title. The GTR’s career came to a close when new rules stated that cars competing in the Le Mans series had to be produced in greater numbers than the GTR, of which only ten were sold to the public.
It’s a logical assumption that BMW want to achieve racing success on the level of the M3 GTR, so stuffing a V8 under the new M3’s hood can certainly accomplish that goal. Power output for the new motor is rumored to be over 420 horsepower, so the new M3 will be gunning not only for its Mercedes and Audi rivals, but for Porsche’s 911 and Infiniti’s new GT-R as well.
The M3 concept seems to embody the best of past BMWs. It features the high-revving V8 muscle found only in beloved the last-generation M5. Equally as compelling are the small touches inspired by the legendary M3 CSL.
The M3 CSL, or Coupe Sport Lightweight, was the nastiest M3 ever built. It had 30 more horsepower than a normal M3, but most remarkable were its razor-sharp reflexes. This world-renowned responsiveness came from a strict diet of lightweight materials, most notably a roof panel finished in carbon fiber. That is now a standard item on the new M3, along with an aluminum bonnet. The use of these materials not only lightens the car, improving performance across the board, but also lowers the car’s center of gravity. We expect the new M3 to have some of the sharpest transitional abilities of any car on the road.
BMW is not known for cutting corners, and we think this M3 is going to blow away its competitors. The M3 has come a long way from the days of the four-cylinder E30 M3, and this is going to be the biggest leap it has taken yet.
Read comments or post your own… BMW M3 Forum
You can also watch the BMW M3 Concept Video on YouTube.