US drivers have been enjoying the BMW M3 since 1988. Now, BMW has once again raised the performance benchmark by introducing the all-new 2008 M3 Sedan. The first M3 (1988-1991) had a 2.3L four-cylinder engine that produced 192 horsepower which was soon trumped by the second generation in 1995 that came with a 3.0L (which got moved up to 3.2L) 240 hp inline-six. Then in 1997, the first M3 Sedan was introduced and the M3 Convertible shortly thereafter. The 2001-2006 generation increased the horsepower to 333 from the 3.2L inline-six engine. Now, the 2008 BMW M3 Sedan is even more powerful, upgrading to a 414 hp V8.
The ’08 M3 Sedan will share the M3 Coupe’s 414-horsepower V8 and balanced chassis. The new light-alloy V8 engine with 414 hp at 8,300 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 3,900 rpm (with 85% of the maximum torque available consistently through 6,500 rpm) is a 15% increase over the 6-cylinder from the last generation of M3. The V8 unit in the engine compartment features BMW’s variable double-VANOS camshaft management. This offers extremely responsive and quick valve timing and reduces charge cycle losses, improving the output, torque, and response of the engine. Compression ratio is dialed in to 12:0:1 and redline is set at 8,400 rpm.
The aluminum chassis is all-new, designed specifically for this ’08 M3 Sedan model with the components placed to create a 50/50 front/rear weight balance. Almost all of the front-end components are aluminum, including the front struts, swivel bearings, central subframe, and an additional thrust panel below the engine that maximizes lateral stiffness of the entire front section. Virtually every detail on the five-arm rear axle that is aluminum is the new for this model.
The M3 rear-wheel drive power comes from the closed-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. Enhancement to the M3 Sedan is the hydraulic Servotronic power assistance controlling steering forces as a function of road speed. There are also two different control maps (normal or sports mode) that you can choose to activate via a console-mounted button. Sport mode provides direct and instantaneous response with a relatively high steering effort whereas in the normal mode, power assistance is comfort-oriented with less steering effort.
New to the electronic Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is the Dry Braking feature that removes water film from the brake discs in wet conditions to reduce the chance of water interfering with the braking process. DSC now also builds up pressure in the hydraulic brake circuit and pre-loads the brake pads to ensure an immediate response whenever the driver seems likely to slam on the brakes within the seconds. The brake discs are internally-vented, cross-drilled cast iron measuring 14.2 inches in diameter in the front and 13.8 inches in the rear. They are connected to a floating aluminum hub by cast-in stainless steel pins because that configuration reduces the thermal loads on the discs, therefore increasing their performance and life service. However, you don’t need to be constantly worrying about your brakes because the ongoing wear indicator will allow you to monitor the condition of the brake linings on the dash display.
The new BMW M3 Sedan will feature the driver-adjustable settings for crucial dynamic controls including steering, damping, and stability, with the option to get the steering-wheel-mounted “MDrive” button to store those settings. Also new to the M3, is a Variable M Differential Lock that can generate up to 100% locking action with fully variable action whenever required, giving you optimum traction on all road surfaces. The optional Electronic Damper Control (EDC) also lets you choose your chassis preference from three modes, Sport, Normal, and Comfort with a push of the Mdrive button on the steering wheel.
Styling on the BMW M3 Sedan boasts an athletic, sporty stance. Of course there is the trademark double-kidney shaped grill and flat headlight unites with standard Xenon headlamps but the face of the new M3 Sedan includes a power dome in the middle of the hood. The “gills” on the two front side panels incorporate the tri-color M3 logo. The usual four metallic paints (Melbourne Red, Jerez Black, Interlagos Blue, and Silverstone) specifically for the M Cars complement the M3 Sedan but the vehicle is also available in Apline White, Jet Black, or Sparkling Graphite Metallic. Standard M-style light-alloy spoke wheels are 18 x 8.5 inches with 245/40 low-profile tires in the front and 18 x 9.5 with 265/40 tires at the rear, though 19” versions are available.
Though it is a sports car, the M3 Sedan’s body structure is built with safety in mind. Defined deformation zones and high-strength steel provide optimum absorption of loads action on the car if collision occurs. In the front of the car, driver and passenger are protected by front and side airbags that are housed in the seat backrests. Curtain head airbags also protects the front and outer rear seats. BMW of course threw in lots of other goodies like BMW Ultimate Service (that includes BMW Maintenance Program, BMW Roadside Assistance, BMW New Vehicle Limited Warranty, BMW Assist), options like SIRIUS satellite radio, HD radio, Navigation/iDrive, and an USB-enabled port for iPod/iPhone control.
Look for the ’08 M3 Sedan and M3 Coupe, both with the first V8 in a series-production M3, to hit showroom floors sometime in the spring.
You can discuss the upcoming M3 Sedan in the BMW M3 Forums.