Revealed: Controversial BMW M3 and M4 debut, no manual for NZ

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Words: Matthew Hansen
23 Sep 2020

Last week it was the Nissan ‘400Z’ Proto. This week, it’s BMW’s new mid-size king hitters; the M3 and M4. The German firm has unveiled its new four- and two-door performance weapons, including power figures. Although none of that stuff is likely to be talked about quite as much as the pairing’s style.

As per many teaser images and spy shots, both sport BMW’s controversial ‘twin-coffin’ grille — much taller and larger than the twin-kidneys on previous 3 and 4ers, and arguably even more divisive than the hefty grille on the front of the X7. 

It’s a look most of us have become at least somewhat accustomed to since it debuted on the 4 Series concept at Frankfurt last year, but that hasn’t stopped an onslaught of debate. The addition of a number plate does help break up the grille’s size. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is probably all we can say.

Beyond the grille shared between both models (some had thought the M3 would go for a more subtle look), your eyes get a standard assortment of M-isms to drink in. Pumped out guards point to a wider track than standard models, and a bevy of other grilles up front point to a thirst for extra engine cooling.

That air supply is intended for a twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline six that both the M3 and M4 share. Producing 375kW of power and 650Nm of torque, the tweaked S58 features double Vanos variable camshaft timing.

Peak power comes high, at 6250rpm, meaning a car that BMW clearly wants drivers to wring the neck of. For the moment, all that power is sent to the rear wheels. But, an all-wheel xDrive variant is coming down the pipe sometime.

For the spec-fiends out there, it’ll hit 100km/h in 3.9 seconds and 200km/h in 12.5 seconds, says BMW. Top speed is limited to 250km/h, but if you opt for the BMW M Driver Package, it gets unhooked to allow for a 290km/h vmax.

While the exterior is all change, things inside remain relatively the same compared with the current 3 and 4 Series. More aggressive bucket seats (there’s an optional carbon race seat, pictured), colour combinations, Merino leather, and stacks of M logos are all part of the update. There’s also a new ‘Drift Mode’, which can analyse and score powerslides. Neat!

But perhaps the most interesting point of contention inside is the stick that leaps out of the middle. While BMW has confirmed that a manual transmission will be offered in overseas markets (curiously, America is one of the most demanding of a stick), New Zealand is set to miss out. Instead all local M models will exclusively come with an eight-speed torque-converted automatic.

Part of this is because our market is set to only get the Competition variants of the M3 and M4. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but expect it to come soon since each model is set to land here in the first quarter of 2021.

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