New BMW M3: prices, specs and 2021 release date for 503bhp saloon
The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
BMW has officially unveiled the sixth-generation M3. It's on sale now, priced from £74,755 – and it's ready to face-off against an accomplished roster of compact executive performance cars, including the Mercedes AMG C 63, Audi RS 4 Avant and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoglio.
BMW’s latest iteration of its iconic sports saloon has undergone an extensive mechanical overhaul. There’s an arsenal of extra technology, a new straight-six engine and – following in the footsteps of the M5 – an all-new four-wheel-drive system on the flagship model.
New 2021 BMW M3: engine and drivetrain
The BMW M3 is powered by the M-division’s latest twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine. It’s the same unit found in the X3 M and X4 M performance SUV twins – and, like those cars, it’ll come in a choice of two power outputs.
BMW’s entry-level M3 will produce 473bhp, but like the rest of the company’s M range, UK customers won’t be offered this option. Instead, we’ll only get the Competition variant, which has an output of 503bhp and 650Nm of torque – enough, says BMW, for a 0–62mph time of 3.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
As standard, the engine will send drive to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. However, for the first time on an M3, buyers will have the option of speccing an adaptive four-wheel-drive system, which is similar in design to the system found on the latest BMW M5.
The system features a central transfer case with an electronically controlled clutch, which can automatically split the torque between the front and rear wheels in any ratio. At the push of a button, the system can also send 100 per cent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels.
New 2021 BMW M3: chassis and platform
Upgrades over the outgoing model include an all-new adaptive suspension dampers, stiffer engine and chassis mounts, a ten-stage traction control system and enormous six-piston disc brakes.
There’s also an active differential mounted on the rear axle, which features a new electronic wheel-slip control. BMW says the system can control the engine’s torque to allow the M3 to accelerate more smoothly on wet or icy roads – although the electronic nanny can be switched off with the traction control system.
Which, rather fittingly, leads into BMW’s next addition – a drift analyser. The system can be accessed via the car’s iDrive infotainment system and provides a breakdown of the driver’s performance when oversteering. However, if consistent and precise driving is more your thing, BMW has also included a driving line coach and lap timer.
Buyers will also be able to spec a range of performance-enhancing additions, including BMW’s M Pro package which adds upgraded carbon ceramic brakes and increases the M3’s top speed limiter to 180mph. The option package is priced at £7,995.
New 2021 BMW M3: design and interior
BMW’s cosmetic revisions for the new M3 follow the company’s usual style guide. There’s more aggressive front and rear bumpers, deeper side skirts and a pair of unique kidney grilles. Also, the car features a carbon fibre roof as standard, while there’s a new set of alloy wheels, measuring 19-inches up front and 20-inches at the rear.
The standard saloon’s wheel arches have also been flared to accommodate the wider wheels and tyres – and there’s a host of aerodynamically minded extras, including a new front splitter, a motorsports inspired diffuser, a dinky boot spoiler and a pair of stability fins mounted on the roof.
Buyers also get passive LED headlights as standard, although the German brand’s adaptive Laserlight headlamp units can be specced as a £1,500 optional extra. There’s a choice of either red, black or blue brake calipers, along with three new exclusive paint finishes – Sao Paulo Yellow, Toronto Red and Isle of Man Green.
Inside, it’s business as usual. There’s an M-branded sports steering wheel, carbon fibre interior trim and a pair of figure-hugging black leather sports seats, which are both electrically adjustable and heated. BMW also offers a pair of lightweight carbon fibre bucket seats as £3,400 optional extra, which save 9.6kgs over the car’s standard seats.
The standard 3 Series’s 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment screen have been transferred wholesale into the M3 – although both feature unique graphics. There’s a pair of USB ports, too, along with a roaming 4G WiFi hotspot, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, gesture control, real time traffic information and a wireless smartphone charging pad.
Finally, buyers can choose from an extensive list of optional extras, including a 360-degree parking assistant (£650), a choice of alloy wheel designs (£300–£850) and a carbon fibre exterior styling package (£4,100), which swaps the M3’s standard air intakes, diffuser, mirror caps and spoiler for carbon fibre reinforced plastic replacements.
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