If you've been paying attention for the past few years, the arrival of a four-door version of BMW's venerable M3 should come as no surprise. There have been M3 variants almost as long as there has been an M3, all the way back to the glory days of the late 1980s and the first M3 convertible. (The euro-only E30 M3 cabriolet was expensive, limited-production, and much less focused than its coupe sibling, but it also taught the Bavarians a valuable lesson: If you slap an M badge on a 3-series and roll it off a production line, they will come.) The previous-generation E46 M3 arrived on our shores only in coupe and cabriolet form, but its predecessor--the E36 M3, the first M car to achieve widespread sales success--was available in coupe, cabriolet and, four-door sedan form. And of those three, the sedan sold the best in North America.
As such, we've recently been gifted with images and basic information on the next M3 variant to hit our shores: Yes, all you family-bound speed freaks, we're getting a four-door.
The four-door M3 shares the coupe's 414-hp, 8400-rpm, 4.0-liter V-8, along with that car's basic styling cues and suspension. Like the coupe, the four-door boasts an aluminum hood complete with power bulge, side "gills" on both front fenders, and a discreet lip spoiler on the trunklid. Four round tailpipes live under the rear bumper, and the front bumper forgoes the foglamps traditionally found on ordinary BMW sedans and coupes.
Like all 3-series four-door sedans, the M3 is a five-seater. A newly designed center console housing M-specific buttons lives up front and is finished in black leather. In a return to the layouts of BMW interiors past, it's subtly angled towards the driver, creating a cockpit-esque feel. Folding rear seats and front seat backrests with adjustable bolsters are optional.
We expect to see the M3 sedan for the first time in the flesh at the 2007 Los Angeles auto show.