In addition to unveiling the new twin-turbo V8-powered M5, BMW M GmbH used the M Night event prior to the Nürburgring 24-hour race to show another spectacular addition to its model range.
The BMW M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) embodies a concentrated blend of state-of-the-art development inspired directly by motorsport. It also represents the worldwide debut of a new production process for carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) components in the automotive industry. This process allows CFRP to be introduced in the construction of the high-performance BMW M3 and that helps it achieve a weight-to-power ratio of 3.5kg/hp. Fitted with a 450hp V8, the BMW M3 CRT from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds. The top speed is electronically limited to 180mph.
The BMW M3 CRT will be produced by the BMW M GmbH factory in a limited run of 67 units. Following in the tire tracks of the BMW M3 GTS – of which 135 examples were produced – this is the second small-series, high-performance M3 specials to be bred for the race track but registered for the road.
Whereas the GTS was based on the E92 coupe model, the CRT is based on the four-door E90 sedan with additional bespoke lightweight design components manufactured as part of an innovative production process. The hood and bucket seats, for example, are made from a cellular carbon honeycomb, which is produced in a globally unique process pioneered for the manufacture of body components for the BMW i3 and BMW i8 models.
The BMW i hybrid models will enter production in 2013, featuring a CFRP passenger cell area. In a new development, the production process introduced for this purpose enables the off-cuts left behind in the construction process to be recycled.
The basic material (made of carbon fiber thread) can now be woven into CFRP mats of any size before being impregnated with synthetic resin and hardened. For the BMW M3 CRT, this allows the creation of a CFRP hood made from two molds encasing an aramid honeycomb structure. This construction gives the hood the strength of a conventional steel part, but at roughly a quarter of its weight.
The weight saving over the M3’s standard aluminum hood is around 50 per cent. The same technology is used for the car’s seats. Here, the CFRP layers are wrapped around a recycled paper honeycomb, with a carbon layer made using conventional production technology added to visible areas. CFRP was also used to make both the rear spoiler of the M3 CRT and its front splitter. The low-weight construction of the M3 CRT is further enhanced by different sound-proofing and a sports exhaust with an extremely lightweight titanium muffler. Also unique to the CRT are the two individual rear seats, which mimic the front seats.
Included in the standard specification of the BMW M3 CRT are the M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic and Navigation. Despite the generous equipment levels, its DIN unladen weight of 3483 lb undercuts the standard E90 M3 by around 99 lb. but when you take all the equipment into account, the weight saving is more like 154 lb. this has altered the weight balance to put 48.4 per cent over the rear axle, which has positive effect on agility.
Under the CFRP hood is the same high-revving V8 that was tuned for the M3 GTS. Its displacement is again increased 4360cc, developing 450hp at 8300rpm, with peak torque of 325 lb-ft at 3750rpm. The shift characteristics of the seven-speed M DCT Drivelogic transmission have been specially tuned for the M3 CRT, complete with Launch Control to generate maximum acceleration off the line.
The front and rear suspension have been enhanced with a rigid rear axle subframe and coilover suspension, with adjustable dampers for both compression and rebound. The brakes use six-piston calipers with 378mm front rotors and 380mm at the rear. The new M3 variant also uses Stahlflex brake lines and model-specific brake pads.
The specially tuned DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system – including ABS and M Dynamic Mode (MDM) – responds to both the greater potential of the BMW M3 CRT and its optimized axle load distribution. Meanwhile, the 245/35 R19 front tires and 265/35 R19 rears (fitted on 19-inch M wheels in Y-spoke design) ensure the acceleration and braking power is transferred to the road.
The exclusive Frozen Polar Silver metallic paint in combination with Melbourne Red metallic highlights the M3 CRT. Inside, it comes with exclusive aluminum doorsills, door panels and trim strips. Completing the distinctive ambience are the Alcantara-covered M steering wheel and special Sakhir Orange and Black upholstery on the seats.