The BMW M3s We Never Got

Paul Barshon
#BMW, #M3

If only we could adjust the GTS's exhaust, which, at low engine speeds, might just cause your head to explode. In what could be this car's only major flaw, the mufflers transmit far more boom into the cabin than they do high-end scream.

The GTS is one of the most composed high-speed autobahn missiles on the planet. With the speedometer needle pointing to a number that, converted into mph, is three times the old "Arrive Alive!" double nickel, the GTS is unfazed by midcorner bumps, strong crosswinds, or hysterical passengers. Enlarged brakes are on call to bite off speed in a tremendous hurry.

In some regards, the GTS is the most extreme M3 ever. The roll cage, the paint, and the garish wing all look the part, but from behind the wheel, the GTS is actually the most clinical of all the M3s here. The dual-clutch transmission turns gearchanges into an Xbox game, the V-8's omnipresent torque takes the work out of going fast, and the steering is millimeter-precise but not particularly communicative, at least in this group.

Arranged chronologically, each generation of M3 has become quicker and more capable, and the GTS clearly is at the top of that heap. The rare opportunity to drive four generations of the M3 in one day-and the four most potent variants of each generation, at that-makes it clear, however, that the level of driver involvement is inversely proportionate to the M3's cylinder count. That said, if you handed us the keys to any M3-even the regular ones that made it to the U.S.-you'll hear no complaining. The grass may be greener in Munich, but the lawns here are still plenty lush.


U.S. M3
PRODUCTION: 17,200* (2008-present)
ENGINE: DOHC 48-valve V-8
POWER: 414 hp @ 8300 rpm
TORQUE: 295 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
REDLINE: 8250 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-62 MPH: 4.6 sec
TOP SPEED: 155 mph
*all body styles

M3 Sport Evolution
PRODUCTION: less than 150 (2010)
ENGINE: DOHC 48-valve V-8
POWER: 444 hp @ 8300 rpm
TORQUE: 325 lb-ft @ 3750 rpm
REDLINE: 8250 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-62 MPH: 4.4 sec
TOP SPEED: 190 mph
*all body styles

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This is an interesting article, and good reading.I have an E36 M3 here in Australia. We got the "Euro spec" cars (Called "Evo" in the UK market). Not that it's a big difference but the power output is not 317bhp but 321bhp at 7,400 rpm, with a 7,500 rpm redline. This was an important design goal to BMW as it was their first road legal car to put out over 100bhp per litre. One of the significant advances (excuse the pun) of this engine is that the VANOS was not stepped, as noted above but was continuously variable, on both camshafts. The power delivery is very smooth and there is a lot of it. Although the maximum power is at 7,400 rpm, the maximum torque (258 lb/ft) at only 3,250 rpm. That was the great achievement of this engine design and it was evolved through the following series of M cars. The Euro M3 has a stronger (and heavier) limited slip differential and a fairly long list of other differences including those in the braking and ABS systems. The US car came close to the "rest of the world" car in the chassis but unfortunately not in the propulsion department. All M3s are exceptional cars, I agree.

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