One of the most sought after BMW production models, the fourth generation M3 coupe, will be closing its chapter after more than 40,000 units left the factory. The gen four BMW M3 Coupe is ending production while its convertible counterpart will continue on till September of 2013.
With continued success in both racing and street production including a 2012 German Touring Car Masters (DTM) title sweep, BMW has carried over racing expertise to its M3 road cars since 1986. Successes continue for the brand with the recent reemergence in DTM where the M3 GT2 scored several victories in its last American Le Mans Series season, seven to be exact. This took BMW Team RLL to five titles in two seasons.
The BMW M3 coupe started production in 2007 and since then has exceeded 40,000 units, while the sedan has added 10,000 and the convertible has achieved 16,000 built to date. And while all three may have different body variants, the powertrain and chassis technology remain the same. Equipped with a 4.0-liter V8 engine, the cylinder banks are positioned at a 90 degree angle to one another. Max output comes out at a claimed 414 hp while generating 295 lbs-ft. of torque with a max rev output of 8400 rpm. Taken directly from BMW's racing effort is an engine that utilizes electronically controlled individual throttle bodies, ion current knock control and a dynamic optimized oil supply. Such technology helped the M3 engine win the 3.0 and 4.0 liter class of the International Engine of the Year Award five times in a row.
Racing also played a role in chassis development. For instance, the front axle is secured to the body by an aluminum stiffening plate, a five-link rear axle with hollow-tube anti-roll bar and forged aluminum axle control arms for rigidity. All of this is accompanied by rack-and-pinion steering system with M- specific Servtronic and variable M differential lock make the chassis very capable.
Helping to slow the 414 hp M3 is a performance compound braking system, which can be specified as an option with the three-mode Electronic Damper Control system. And introduced on the gen four was the optional M DCT with Drivelogic-the first double-clutch transmission for a production BMW designed specifically for performance and the high-revving characteristics of the M3.
Several limited run examples of M3s were produced. One was the M3 GTS, which was developed as a road-legal clubsport oriented model. The V8 was increased in size to 4.4 liters while power also received a bump to 450 hp. Racing components such as a bespoke chassis and aerodynamics as well as a two-seat cockpit made the M3 GTS perfect for track use. Only 135 examples were built.
The M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) came into production in 2011 with a limited production run of 67 units. This model featured exclusive lightweight parts and 450 hp, like the GTS with modified chassis technology. Carbon Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) was used on the hood, seats, rear spoiler and an air- channeling element integrated into the front apron.
Offered in the US, several special edition fourth gen M3s hit the market colors that included: Frozen Grey, Frozen Black, Frozen Silver, Frozen Red, Frozen While, Frozen Blue and the favorite Lime Rock Park edition (in a Fire Orange).
Celebrating the BMW DTM comeback (drivers, team and manufacturer titles were won with the M3), a limited run model of the M3 was produced. The M3 DTM Champion Edition celebrated the 54 victories between 1987-2012 with 54 production models.
The fourth generation production BMW M3 may be coming to an end, but the M3s racing heritage will continue on.