The BMW M3s We Never Got

Paul Barshon
#BMW, #M3

Generation IV: E92 M3 GTS
Orange you spoilered?

The new M3 GTS came to be because, according to Albert Biermann, head of development for M cars, "we needed to have a little fun." Besides, there was excess capacity on the BMW Individual line, so M decided to produce twenty hi-po M3s for the German market. Then the E.U. sales team begged for a hundred of its own, so the car needed to be engineered for European certification standards, not just Germany's. Then the Swiss wanted in, followed by the U.K. Finally, Biermann said, "OK, no more." Homologating the GTS for each additional market meant more development and more compromises. Result? It's not street legal in the United States, and you can't have one.

The price is almost as shocking as the exclusive fire orange paint-at about $160,000, the GTS costs twice as much as a base M3 in Germany. But to deride this limited-production monster on its price is to miss the point completely.

The most expensive of the GTS's special parts is most likely the stroked version of the M3's V-8, which displaces 4.4 liters and produces 444 hp. Attached solely to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, the big engine knocks 0.2 second off the M3's sprint to 62 mph, and its top speed is limited by air resistance, not a governor, at 190 mph.

The GTS was designed to go club racing, so there's a bright orange roll cage where the rear seats used to be and surprisingly comfortable racing buckets up front. Although the GTS we drove had rain-sensing wipers and cruise control (go figure), it had no radio, navigation system, Bluetooth, or air-conditioning. Climate controls are limited to three round lightweight knobs on the center console.

On the road, the ride is race-car firm but not overly harsh, despite being suspended even lower than the regular M3. Then again, you can ruin the ride if you desire, thanks to double-adjustable KW dampers (their tool kit is in the trunk). Camber is also user-selectable.

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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