Three Of Our Favorite BMW 3 Series Models
BMW fans are in a tizzy this week thanks to the automaker’s announcement that the next-generation 3 Series will be revealed via video this Friday. We already know a fair bit about the new 3er – codenamed F30 – and have spotted numerous prototypes in varying states of camouflage.
The F30 will likely be offered with a number of different turbocharged inline-four and inline-six-cylinder engines. Options should include the new N20 turbocharged inline-four just introduced for the 2012 Z4 sDrive28i and 528i and the return of the 300-hp N55turbo-six from the current 335i. Power will be sent to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox, although all-wheel drive will be offered later. The new M3 is rumored to get a tri-turbo inline-six that should match or exceed the current 4.0-liter V-8’s 414 hp.
Excited? So are we, but we do have to wait a few more days to get the full details on the car. Until then, we’ve dusted off three of our favorite 3ers.
(1986-1992) E30 M3
Perhaps this is an obvious choice, but it’s not without reason that the E30 M3 has become one of the most celebrated sports cars in modern history.The product of BMW’s Motorsport GmBH division, the M3 was designed and built expressly for racing, and it showed even in the subsequent road-going cars. Taking BMW’s 2.3-liter “S14” inline-four cylinder, M coaxed the engine into producing 194 hp for stock road cars. Unique body panels, including flared fenders and unique aero touches, certainly looked good, but also served a distinct purpose on the track – as did a stiffer suspension, upgraded brake system, and a new Getrag five-speed manual transmission.
(1998-2004) E46 3 Series
Introduced in 1998, the E46 helped BMW to where they are now. The 3 Series has long been the brand’s best-seller, but it was the E46 that helped put the BMW brand onto the scene as a top-selling luxury brand, especially in the U.S. Total production of the E46 peaked in 2002 with over 560,000 worldwide sales; it was also the second year that the 3er sold more than 100,000 units in the U.S.
BMW also used the E46 to introduce upscale technology and options from the larger 5 and 7 Series. The E46 quickly became the same kind of cultural icon as the E30, as a must-have car for the elite. Arguably, this was one of the first “masspirational” cars that was both an award-winning performance car from a premium brand, yet still accessible to most consumers.
Jeff Koonz’s2010 E92 M3 GT2 Art Car
The BMW Art Car series has a long history dating back to 1975, and has included several 3 Series models (the first being Roy Lichtenstein’s 1977 320i), but none quite as fetching as Jeff Koonz’s E92 M3 GT2. Koonz’s colorful design makes the car appear to be at warp speed even when standing still, but it was certainly capable of moving quickly on its own, thanks to a 500-hp, 4.0-liter V-8. In fact, it competed in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans wearing this very paint job, reviving the old BMW tradition of sending its Art Cars into competition. Koonz, an American artist, reportedly utilized the same CAD tools BMW designers employ to create the zany color scheme before having it transferred to vinyl and wrapped on the physical car.
What say you? What three BMW 3 Series stick out in your mind? Send us your picks and an explanation by way of the comments section below.