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2018 BMW M3 3.0.jpg
ManufacturerBMW M GmbH
Body and chassis
ClassCompact executive car (D)
LayoutRear-wheel drive
RelatedBMW 3 Series,

The BMW M3 is a high-performance version of the 3 Series, developed by BMW's in-house motorsport division, BMW M GmbH. M3 models have been derived from the corresponding generations of the BMW 3 Series.

The initial model was available in a coupé body style. At times the M3 has also been available in saloon and convertible body styles. Due to the coupé and convertible models no longer being part of the 3 Series range from 2015,[1][2] the F82/F83 coupe and convertible models are now called the M4 based on the newly introduced 4 Series. The M3 name remains in use solely for the saloon version.

Upgrades over the standard 3 Series automobiles include more powerful and responsive engines, improved handling/suspension/braking systems, aerodynamic body enhancements, lightweight components and interior/exterior accents with the tri-colour "M" (Motorsport) emblem.

E30 generation (1986–1992)[edit]

BMW M3 (E30)
Bedford Autodrome August 2010 - photo by Chris Teagles (4948262752).jpg
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
2-door convertible
Engine2.0—2.5 L S14 I4[3]
Transmission5-speed manual
Wheelbase2,562 mm (100.9 in)
Length4,345 mm (171.1 in)
Width1,680 mm (66.1 in)
Height1,370 mm (53.9 in)

The first BMW M3 was based on the E30 3 Series and was produced from 1986 to 1992.[4] The majority of E30 M3s were produced in the coupe body style, however limited volumes of convertibles were also produced.[5]

The E30 M3 differed from the regular E30 models in several areas. The same basic body shell was used, however 12 of the body panels were unique to the M3, for the purposes of improving aerodynamics. Box-flared wheelarches were used to accommodate a wider track width and larger wheels/tyres. The only exterior body panels the standard 3 Series and the M3 shared were the bonnet, roof panel, sunroof and door inner panels.

The brake calipers, rotors and master cylinder were unique to the M3 model.

The transmission was a Getrag 265 5-speed manual. European models were outfitted with a dogleg version with close ratios and a 1:1 ratio for fifth gear. North American models used a standard shift pattern and had wider gear spacing with an overdriven fifth gear. A clutch-type limited-slip differential was standard equipment.

The official kerbs weights of the 1986 M3 coupe was 1,165 kg (2,568 lb) and the 1988 M3 convertible was 1,360 kg (2,998 lb).[6][7]

In 2004, Sports Car International named the E30 M3 car number six on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1980s. In 2007, Automobile Magazine included the E30 M3 in their "5 greatest drivers cars of all time" under their 25 Greatest Cars of All Time.


The E30 M3 used the BMW S14 four-cylinder engine, a high-revving DOHC design based on the BMW M88 six-cylinder engine. In countries where the M3 was sold with a catalytic converter, the initial versions produced 143 kW (192 bhp) and had a top speed of 235 km/h (146 mph).[8] In countries where a catalytic convertor was not required, the engine produced 149 kW (200 bhp).

In September 1989, European M3s were upgraded to the 158 kW (212 bhp) (as introduced on the Ravaglia special editition model), increasing the top speed to 240 km/h (149 mph).[8]


Differences to the standard E30 models included:

  • 5-stud wheel hubs
  • offset control arm bushings in the front suspension, for increased caster angle
  • aluminium control arms
  • revised front strut tubes with bolt on kingpins and swaybar mounted to strut tube, similar to the E28 5 Series
  • front wheel bearings and brake calliper bolt spacing from the E28 5 Series

Special editions[edit]


Sport Evolution version

The sportier "Evolution" model (also called "EVO2") introduced in 1988 produced 162 kW (217 bhp).[9] Other changes included larger wheels (16 X 7.5 inches), thinner rear and side window glass, a lighter bootlid, a deeper front splitter and additional rear spoiler.

Sport Evolution[edit]

A more powerful and lighter "Sport Evolution" model (sometimes referred as "EVO3") with a limited production run of 600 units was produced with an upgraded 2,467 cc (150.5 cu in) engine producing 175 kW (235 bhp) at 7,000 rpm and 240 N⋅m (177 lbf⋅ft) at 4,750 rpm.[10] The top speed was increased to 249 km/h (155 mph).[8] Sport Evolution models have enlarged front bumper openings and an adjustable multi-position front splitter and rear wing. Brake cooling ducts were installed in place of front foglights.

Ravaglia and Cecotto editions[edit]

In April 1989, the Ravaglia and Cecotto limited editions were released, both named after Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) racing drivers. Power was increased to 158 kW (212 bhp) with a catalytic converter.[9]

M3 Pickup prototype[edit]

In 1986, BMW produced an "M3 Pickup" prototype pickup truck, based on the convertible model. The M3 Pickup used the narrower body of regular E30 models and was originally powered by the 2.0 litre version of the S14 engine from the Italian-specification M3. It was used as a transporter for roughly 26 years before it was officially retired in 2012.[11][12]

Production volumes[edit]

Production of the E30 M3 ended in early 1992, with estimates of total production ranging from 16,202 to 19,629 cars.[13][14]

Production breakdown[citation needed]
Version Coupes Convertible
Euro spec (149 kW) 8,661 786
Euro spec (158 kW) 1,519
U.S. spec 4,996
Europameister 148
Cecotto/Ravaglia 505
Evo 1 505
Evo 2 500
Sport Evolution 600 1


DTM racing car

The E30 M3 competed in many forms of motorsport and was highly successful in touring car racing. The E30 M3 road car was homologated for Group A racing, to compete against models such as the Mercedes-Benz W201 190E. In full race trim, the 1988 M3's 2.3 L (140 cu in) naturally aspirated 2.3 L engine produced approximately 224 kW (300 hp).[15] The E30 M3 won the 24 Hours Nürburgring five times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994) and the Spa 24 Hours four times (1987, 1988, 1990 and 1992), other competing against cars with significantly larger or turbocharged engines.

To keep the car competitive in racing following year-to-year homologation rules changes, homologation specials were produced and sold in limited volumes. These include the Evo 1, Evo 2, and Sport Evolution, with upgrades including weight reduction, improved aerodynamics, taller front wheel arches (to allow 18-inch wheels to be used in DTM racing), bigger brake ducts and more power. With the introduction of the 2.5 L evolution engine into racing in 1990, power increased to approximately 283 kW (380 hp).[16]

The M3 also competed as a rally car, with Prodrive-prepared examples contesting several national championships and selected rounds of the World Rally Championship between 1987 and 1989. By the latter year, the cars, based on the standard M3, were equipped with six-speed gearboxes and produced 220 kW (295 bhp). The M3 was not very competitive with the four-wheel-drive cars on loose surfaces, but a very effective car on asphalt. Its most notable success was victory on the Tour de Corse in 1987, driven by Bernard Beguin.


E36 generation (1992–1999)[edit]

BMW M3 (E36)
1998 BMW M3 Coupe 3.2.jpg
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupé
2-door convertible
4-door sedan
Engine3.0-3.2 L S50/S52 I6
Wheelbase2,700 mm (106 in)
Length4,430 mm (174 in)
Width1,710 mm (67 in)
Height1,370 mm (54 in)

The M3 model of the E36 3 Series was released in 1992 and was initially available as a coupe only, with a convertible version added in 1994. A sedan version was also added in 1994, to fill in the gap caused by the lack of a BMW M5 sedan model between the end of E34 M5 production in 1995 and the launch of the E39 M5 in 1998.

In September 1995, a facelift version of the coupe was released. Changes included the engine size increasing to 3.2 L (195 cu in), the manual transmission increasing from a 5-speed to a 6-speed,[17] different wheels and clear indicator lenses. The facelift changes were applied to the sedan model in November 1995 and the convertible model in February 1996.[18] The kerb weight of the 1996 M3 coupe in European specification is 1,515 kg (3,340 lb).[19]

The facelift also saw the introdution of the 6-speed "SMG" automated manual tranmission,[20] the first time an automatic transmission was available on an M3 outside the United States. The SMG transmission was praised for its fast shift times and operation in performance situations, but criticised for behaviour in everyday driving situations.[21]

The majority of cars were produced at the BMW Regensburg factory in Germany; however, a small number of low compression right hand drive cars were assembled at BMW's plant in Rosslyn, South Africa.[22] In total, 46,525 coupés, 12,114 convertibles and 12,603 sedans were produced.[23] The sedan ceased production in December 1997, the coupé ceased production in late 1998, and the convertible ceased production in December 1999.[8]

In 1996, BMW M GmbH hand-built a E36 M3 Compact prototype, as an M-car which would appeal to younger customers. The M3 Compact was reviewed in the German magazine 'Auto Motor und Sport'.[11][12][24] The M3 Compact mirrored the performance and styling characteristics of the E36 M3, including the 3.2 litre S50 engine.


The E36 M3 was powered by the BMW S50 straight-six engine. It was the first M3 to use a six-cylinder engine, which has since been used the majority of M3 models (albeit in turbocharged form since 2014).

In most countries, the initial 2,990 cc (182 cu in) version generated 213 kW (286 bhp) at 7,000 rpm and 320 N⋅m (236 lb⋅ft) at 3,600 rpm. North American models (except for the limited edition Canadian "M3 Euro-Spec" model) used the less powerful BMW S50B30US engine instead.

The facelift models in late 1995 were upgraded to a 3,201 cc (195 cu in) version of the BMW S50 engine, generating 236 kW (316 bhp) at 7,400 rpm and 350 N⋅m (258 lbf⋅ft) at 3,250 rpm.[25] North American models used the less powerful BMW S52 engine instead.

Special editions[edit]

M3 GT (Europe)[edit]

1995 BMW M3 GT

In 1994, BMW produced the limited-edition M3 GT as a racing homologation special for Europe,[26] in order to compete in the FIA-GT class II, IMSA GT and international long-distance races.[27] A total of 356 M3 GTs were produced, the majority in left-hand drive for mainland Europe plus 50 in right-hand drive for the United Kingdom.[8]

The engine was the European-specification S50B30, which was upgraded with larger camshafts and a higher compressions ratio, resulting in peak power of 220 kW (295 bhp) at 7,100 rpm.[28]

Most M3 GTs were painted in the British Racing Green colour. Other changes include a deeper and adjustable front splitter, higher rear double wing, aluminum doors, wheels measuring 17 x 7.5 inches at the front and 17 x 8.5 inches at the rear, stiffer front suspension, a cross-brace and a strut brace.[citation needed] The M3 GT is approximately 30 kg (66 lb) lighter than the standard M3 and has a derestricted top speed of 275 km/h (171 mph).[citation needed]

M3 Lightweight (U.S.)[edit]

M3 Lightweight- front
M3 Lightweight- rear

Following the released of the E36 M3, racing teams in the United States began pressuring BMW for a homologation version with which to compete in sports-car racing.[29][30] As a result, the 'M3 Lightweight' was released in 1995. The cars came without a radio (although the speakers were installed and the car pre-wired for the radio), air conditioning, leather seats, tool kit or a sunroof. The doors have aluminum skins. There is no underbonnet insulation blanket and the trunk only has carpet on the floor. The under body insulation is thinner and there is special carpeting to lower weight. Overall the changes added up to 91 kg (200 lb) less than a standard M3. The wheels are 17-inches in diameter, with a width of 7.5 inches at the front and 8.5 inches at the rear. The tyres fitted were 235/40ZR17.[31]

Powertrain changes included the removal of the top speed limiter and a shorter differential ratio (3.23 compared to 3.15). Suspension upgrades consisted of shorter springs from the European-specification M3. Before being sold, the M3 Lightweights were sent to Prototype Technology Group Racing in Virginia for final preparation, which included the front and rear Motorsport flag decals, and "trunk kit".[32] In the trunk there was dual-pickup oil pump (from the European-specification M3), front strut bar, lower cross-brace, spacer blocks to raise the rear wing, and an adjustable front splitter. Each owner was given a 1-page legal document to sign acknowledging that any installation of trunk items voided the new car warranty.

All M3 Lightweight cars were produced in Alpine White, with the Motorsports flag decals on the left front and right rear corners of the car. There is an aggressive wing on the trunk lid. There was some carbon fibre interior trim and the badges (side molding and dash) say "BMW Motorsports International".

Although BMW promised to build approximately 100, BMW never released the number of M3 Lightweights built, however it is estimated that approximately 125 were built.[33]

Canadian Edition[edit]

Prior to the release of the North American specification M3, BMW Canada sold 45 of the European specification M3s. At the time, BMW North America was opposed to importing the E36 M3 (due to its high price and the poor sales of the previous M3). The Canadian Edition M3 was imported using a loophole that allows low volumes of Norwegian-certified cars to be sold in Canada.[34] Despite a high price of nearly $60,000 CAD,[35] all 45 cars were sold in 3 days in early 1994. As per other European specification M3s, these 45 cars had the 213 kW (286 bhp) version of the S50 engine, vented brakes with floating rotors and glass headlights. Each of the Canadian Edition cars has an individually-numbered plaque on the glovebox which reads "S50 B30 Limited Production Canadian Edition"[36] one having a numbered engraved plaque in both the glovebox and the custom leather case which holds the owners manuals.

When the North American specification M3 was released in 1995, it was initially not available in Canada. Sales of the North American M3 in Canada began in 1997.

M3-R (Australia)[edit]

In order to race in the Australian Super Production series, fifteen M3-R's were sold by BMW Australia in 1994. With a power output of 240 kW (322 bhp), the M3-R is the most powerful production E36 M3. Four of the cars were used for the race series. The remaining eleven were sold to the general public, however buyers were required to possess a CAMS motorsport licence in order to purchase an M3-R.

The cars were delivered to the workshop of the Frank Gardner racing team for final preparation. A bolt-in FIA-approved roll cage was a factory option. Suspension upgrades consisted of new springs, adjustable struts and rear perches. Engine upgrades consisted of AC Schnitzer camshafts, dual pickup sump, an oil restrictor in the head and a cold air snorkel into air filter box replacing left hand fog light.

Other changes included four piston front brake calipers, a shorter (3.25:1) differential ratio, the driveshaft from an M5, a twin-plate clutch, non-functional rear seat, air conditioner delete, deeper front splitter and a larger rear spoiler. The cars were individually numbered with a plaque fitted to centre console near the handbrake.

M3 GTR (Germany)[edit]

The E36 M3 GTR is the road-going version of the competition machine built to compete in the 1994 ADAC German GT Cup Touring Car series.[37][38]

North American models[edit]

Despite being released in other countries in 1992, the E36 M3 was not sold in the United States until 1995. A key difference between the "European specification" M3 (sold in the rest of the world) and the U.S. M3 the less powerful S50B30US engine used in the U.S. M3, which produced 179 kW (240 bhp) and 305 N⋅m (225 lb⋅ft). Other notable differences included an optional 5-speed ZF 5HP torque-convertor automatic transmission,[39] suspension changes,[citation needed] and single piece brake rotors (compared with floating rotors). The changes were made in order to reduce the price of the M3, as the U.S. dealers believed the European specification M3 would be too expensive to sell well.

In November 1996, the engine was upgraded to the 3.2 L (195 cu in) BMW S52,[40] with the same power outputs of 179 kW (240 bhp), but torque increased to 320 N⋅m (236 lbf⋅ft). The manual gearbox remained a 5-speed, despite the European versions being upgraded to a 6-speed version.

US sales figures include a total of 18,961 coupés, 7,760 sedans and 6,211 convertibles.[41]


M3 GT racing car

The release of the E36 M3 coincided with BMW's withdrawl from the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), resulting BMW focussing instead on the 318is and 320i models in the Super Tourenwagen Cup. Nonetheless, the E36 M3 competed in many motorsport events. In 1993, the E36 M3 GTR won the German ADAC GT Cup, driven by Johnny Cecotto.[42] The M3 GT competed in the European FIA GT Championship.

In the United States, the Prototype Technology Group (PTG) Racing in Virginia ran the E36 M3 in the IMSA GT Championship. In the 1996 IMSA GT Championship, the M3 won 4 races in the GTS-2 class and BMW won the manufacturers championship.[43] In the 1997 IMSA GT Championship, the M3 won 8 races in the GTS-3 class, with BMW winning the manufacturers championship again and Bill Auberlen winning the drivers championship.[43] In the 1998 IMSA GT Championship, the M3 won 5 races and BMW won the manufacturers championship in the GT3 class. The same year, the M3 won 4 races in the GT2 class.[43] The M3 also competed in the 2000 American Le Mans Series taking one win in the GT class.[43]

In Australia, the M3-R competed in the Australian GT Production Car Championship.

E46 generation (2000–2006)[edit]

BMW M3 (E46)
BMW M3 Coupé E46 (14245863196) (cropped).jpg
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupé
2-door convertible
Engine3.2 L S54 I6
Transmission6 Speed manual
6 Speed SMG-II
Wheelbase2,720 mm (107 in)
Length4,490 mm (177 in)
Width1,780 mm (70 in)
Height1,370 mm (54 in)

The M3 version of the E46 3 Series was available in coupé and convertible body styles (a sedan version was not produced, due to the introduction of the new M5). The E46 M3 is powered by the S54 straight-six engine and has a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of 5.1 s for the coupe, with either the manual or SMG-II transmission.[44][45] The skid pad cornering results are 0.89 g for the coupe and 0.81 g for the convertible.[46][47]

The curb weight of the 2000 M3 coupe is 1,570 kg (3,461 lb).[48] The top speed is electronically limited to 249 km/h (155 mph).[45]

The available transmissions were a Getrag 420G 6-speed manual transmission or a SMG-II 6-speed automated manual transmission, which was based on the Getrag 420G.[49] The SMG-II used an electrohydraulically actuated clutch and gearshifts could be selected via the gear knob or paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The SMG-II was praised for its fast shift times and racetrack performance, but some people found its shifts to be delayed and lurching in stop-start traffic.[50]

Total production of the E46 M3 was 56,133 coupes and 29,633 convertibles.[51] The cars were assembled at the BMW Regensburg factory in Germany.

An M3 Touring wagon/estate prototype was built to evaluate the feasibility of building an M3 model on the existing platform of the E46 station wagon (especially the integration of the M3's wider rear wheel arches onto the wagon body), however it did not reach production.[11][12]


The 3.2 L (200 cu in) S54 engine is the final evolution of the BMW S50 naturally aspirated straight-six engine. The S54 produces 252 kW (338 bhp) at 7,900 rpm, 365 N⋅m (269 lb⋅ft) at 4,900 rpm, and has a redline of 8,000 rpm.[44] As with most M engines, the S54 has an individual throttle body for each cylinder, with electronic throttle control (drive-by-wire) operation of the throttles being a new feature for the S54.

Development and launch[edit]

Concept design of the M3 began in 1997.[52] The head of exterior design was Ulf Weidhase and the head of interior design was Martina Bachmann.[52]

The M3 was previewed at the 1999 International Motor Show Germany[53] as a concept,[54] resembling the final production version very closely. The final production version was first introduced in October 2000 at the Geneva Motor Show,[55] it appeared worldwide with the new 3.2 L S54 M-tuned inline-6 engine.

Special editions[edit]


M3 CSL- front
M3 CSL- rear

The BMW M3 CSL (Coupe Sport Leichtbau- translates to Coupe Sport Lightweight)[56] is a limited edition version of the M3 that was produced in 2004, with only 1,383 cars being produced.[57] It was available in two colours: Silver Grey Metallic and Black Sapphire Metallic.[58]

As its name suggests, an emphasis was put on reducing weight. The CSL has a curb weight of 1,385 kg (3,053 lb), 110 kg (243 lb) lighter than the regular M3.[59][60][61] Structural weight reduction measures include the use of glass-reinforced plastics in various structural points in the car,[60] a roof constructed from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (reducing curb weight by 7 kg (15 lb) and, more importantly, lowering the centre of gravity),[59][58][62] body panels constructed from carbon fiber reinforced polymer[59] and thinner glass for the rear window.[63] The trunk floor cover was made of lightweight fibre-board (not cardboard as infamously described on the Top Gear television show). The CSL discarded had a large proportion of the M3s sound insulation, the electric seats, navigation system, air conditioning and stereo (the latter two were able to be re-addedas no-cost options).[64][60] The interior includes fibreglass front racing bucket seats,[59] a fibreglass backing for the rear seats,[59] and carbon fibre for the center console, door panels, door trim and head-liner,[58][59] The steering wheel has just a single button which activates the M track mode, instead of the buttons for cruise control, stereo, and phone controls on the regular M3.[58] The CSL retained the 50:50 weight distribution of the standard M3.[59]

The wheels were increased in size to 19 inches. BMW took the unusual approach of supplying the CSL with semi-slick tyres (Michelin Pilot Sport Cup).[58][65] These tyres provided high grip levels once warmed up on a racetrack, but poor performance on wet roads and when below their operating temperature.[66][67] A warning label was included in the CSL to inform drivers about driving in cold or wet conditions. The brakes were upgraded with larger floating rotors at the front and larger pistons at the rear.

The suspension system was revised with stiffer springs, upgraded shock absorbers and a quicker ratio for the steering rack (14.5:1 vs 15.4:1 on the regular M3).[59][68] The electronic stability control was retuned and an "M track mode" was added, allowing higher thresholds before the system intervened.

The engine used in the CSL had increased output over the regular S54 by 13 kW (17 hp) and 5 N⋅m (4 lbf⋅ft) over the European M3. This is due to the use of sharper profile camshafts, a bigger air intake with carbon fibre manifold, a refinement of the exhaust manifold, and slightly different exhaust valves.[58][68] The top speed was electronically limited as standard, but buyers with a current motorsport licence could order the CSL with the speed limiter removed.[68] The sole transmission available was the 6-speed SMG II automated transmission,[68] with revised software resulting in shift times of 80&nbps;milliseconds.[58]

The aerodynamics were also revised, including a carbon fibre front splitter that improved down force at high speeds by 50%,[59] and a carbon fibre rear diffuser. The front bumper had a distinct hole that is used to draw cool air into the newly designed air intake.[59] The trunk lid was redesigned to incorporate a raised lip, unlike the standard M3 where one is simply added onto a flat trunk.[59]

Competition Package / CS[edit]

In 2005, a special edition was released which used several parts from the CSL. This model was called the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the United States and mainland Europe, and the M3 CS in the United Kingdom.[55] Compared to the regular M3, the Competition Package includes:

  • 19-inch BBS alloy wheels- 19"x8" at the front and 19"x9.5" at the rear.
  • Stiffer springs (which were carried over to the regular M3 from 12/04).
  • Faster ratio steering rack of 14.5:1 (compared with the regular M3's ratio of 15.4:1) as per the CSL
  • Steering wheel from the CSL
  • M-track mode for the electronic stability control, as per the CSL.
  • The CSL's larger front brake discs (but with the regular M3 front calipers) and rear brake calipers with larger pistons.
  • Alcantara steering wheel and handbrake covers.

The engine, gearbox and other drivetrain components are as per the regular M3 model.

GTR road car[edit]

M3 GTR road car (scale model)

In order to homologate the M3 GTR for racing, a road version was produced in 2001. BMW claimed to offer 10 cars for sale to the general public, at the very high price of 250,000.[69] However, only 6 cars were produced, of which 3 were development prototypes.[70] The road cars were built alongside the GTR race cars in the special vehicles department of BMW's Regensburg Plant.

As per the race car, the GTR road car was powered by the BMW P60B40 4.0 L (244 cu in) V8 engine. The engine retained the race cars' dry sump oil system and was slightly detuned from 330 to 285 kW (443 to 382 bhp) at 7,000 rpm.[71] Top speed was 295 km/h (183 mph). The transmission was a six-speed manual gearbox and the differential was the same variable locking unit as used in the race car.

The dry weight was 1,350 kg (2,980 lb).[citation needed] Weight reduction measures included a carbon fibre front bumper, rear bumper and rear wing.

North American models[edit]

The North American models used the same S54 engine as in other countries (unlike the previous generation, which lower performance engines in the United States). Due to minor differences in specification, the United States models produced 248 kW (333 bhp) and 355 N⋅m (262 lb⋅ft), resulting in an official 0-60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration time of 4.8 seconds for the coupe version (with either the manual and SMG transmission). As per other countries, top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph)[72][73]

The CSL model was not sold in the North American market.[64]


M3 GTR racing version
BMW P60B40 V8 engine used in the GTR

In the United States, the E46 M3 competed in the 2000 American Le Mans Series GT category and finished third in the championship. However the straight-six engine was viewed as uncompetitive compared to the Porsche 996 GT3, therefore BMW began to develop a new M3 racing car based around a more powerful engine. The resulting E46 GTR racing car was introduced in February 2001 and was powered by a 330 kW (443 hp) version of the P60B403,997 cc (4.0 L) V8 engine.[74][70] With a more powerful engine than the straight-six powered M3 versions (which were outpaced by the ), the GTR won the 2001 American Le Mans Series GT category, driven by Jörg Müller.

However, the eligability of the GTR was the subject of controversy, with some rival teams believing that the GTR was an in-house prototype vehicle rather than production model available for purchase by the general public. The ALMS homologation rules for 2001 required the M3 GTR road car to be sold on at least two continents within twelve months of the rules being issued, which BMW claimed to fulfill by stating that 10 GTR road cars were available for sale. The ALMS rules were altered for 2002, now requiring that 100 cars and 1,000 engines must be built for the car to qualify without penalties. The GTR road car was never intended for production on this scale, so BMW withdrew the GTR from competition at this point.

In 2003, the M3 GTR returned to competition at the 24 Hours Nürburgring, with two cars run by two Schnitzer Motorsport. The GTR won the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 2004 and 2005,[75]) and competed in the 24 Hours Spa.[76]

E90/E92/E93 generation (2007–2013)[edit]

E90/92/93 M3
BMW M3 E92 - Flickr - Alexandre Prévot (8) (cropped II).jpg
Production2007–July 5, 2013 (saloon discontinued in 2011)
AssemblyRegensburg, Germany
DesignerKarl John Elmitt (coupé)
Hans-Bruno Starke (saloon)
Body and chassis
Body style
RelatedBMW 3 Series (E90)
Engine4.0 L S65B40 V8
4.4 L S65B44 V8
Transmission6-speed manual
7-speed M-DCT
Wheelbase108.7 in (2,761 mm)
  • Coupé and Convertible (2011): 181.8 in (4,618 mm)
  • Saloon (2011): 180.4 in (4,582 mm)
  • Coupé (2008–2010): 181.4 in (4,608 mm)
  • Convertible (2008–2010): 181.7 in (4,615 mm)
  • Coupe (2011): 71.7 in (1,821 mm)
  • Saloon (2011): 71.5 in (1,816 mm)
  • Convertible (2011): 71.0 in (1,803 mm)
  • Coupe (2011) and Convertible (2008–2010): 55.6 in (1,412 mm)
  • Saloon (2008–2011): 57.0 in (1,448 mm)
  • Convertible (2011): 54.8 in (1,392 mm)
  • Coupé (2008–2010): 54.2 in (1,377 mm)
Curb weight
  • Coupé: 1,655 kg (3,649 lb)
  • Saloon: 1,685 kg (3,715 lb)
  • Convertible: 1,810 kg (3,990 lb)
Saloon (E90)
Coupe (E92)
Convertible (E93)

The fourth generation of the BMW M3 was announced at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show (Switzerland, 6–18 March 2007) as the BMW M3 concept.[77]

As was the case with the E46 M3 Concept and the E60 M5 Concept, the M3 Concept had almost no differences from the production version in terms of design, that had its world premiere on the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show IAA (Germany, 12 to 23 September).[78]

Similar to its predecessors that introduced a new engine, the fourth generation of the M3 did the same and marked the debut of the BMW S65 V8 engine. The engine generates a maximum power output of 420 PS (309 kW; 414 hp) at 8,300 rpm,[79] with a peak torque of 400 N⋅m (295 lb⋅ft) at 3,900 rpm.[79] A 6-speed manual transmission was included as standard. As of April 2008, BMW offered a new 7-speed Getrag double-clutch paddle shift transmission,[80] called M-DKG (Doppel-Kupplungs-Getriebe) or M-DCT (Double Clutch Transmission) as an option, which reduces shift pauses to less than a tenth of a second and shortens the car's 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time by 0.2 seconds vs. the car equipped with a manual transmission. It features both automatic and manual modes similar to the SMG gearboxes in the E36 and E46, but with more speed and efficiency.

The E92 M3 coupé inherited a carbon-fibre roof similar to the one used on the E46 CSL. For 2011, the E92 M3 received a model refresh commonly referred to as a LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) by BMW. Those changes included minor interior trim pieces and LED rear tail-lights. Testing by Car and Driver magazine has shown that the 2011 M3 equipped with an M-DCT transmission accelerated from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.9 seconds and went on to record a 12.4-second quarter-mile time.[79] This is almost half a second quicker than 2008–2010 M3 models with the same engine and transmission.

The M3 was again available as a 4-door saloon, based on the E90 3 Series saloon, but unlike the regular saloons the M3 version shares the coupe's wide and sculpted front end, including the headlights. Saloons, however, do not have the coupe's carbon-fibre roof, and are 10 kg (22 lb) heavier than the identically equipped coupé.

Although the front-end design of the saloon matches the specific look and high-performance character of the coupé, the side-sills and rear diffuser are tailored for the saloon. The M3 saloon is powered by the same engine as the other two versions (coupé and convertible). In 2008, a four-door (E90), six-speed manual transmission M3 accelerated to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.3 seconds in a Motor Trend test,[81] matching the performance of the M3 Coupé.

The E93 convertible version joined the M3 lineup shortly after the E92's launch, and is based directly on the M3 Coupé. The convertible uses a power retractable hardtop which adds 200 kg (441 lb) to the weight of the car, bringing the total to 1,810 kg (3,990 lb)[82] with a negative impact on the convertible's overall performance. The convertible features a special leather surface for the seats that reflects sunlight. This reduces the tendency of the seats to become uncomfortably hot with the top down.[83]

Total production was of the E9x M3 was 40,092 coupes, 16,219 convertibles and 9,674 sedans.[84]

General performance data[edit]

Official times as published by BMW (6-speed manual times in parentheses):

  • Coupe/Saloon 0–100 km/h acceleration time: 4.6 s (4.8 s)[85]
  • Coupe/Saloon 0–60 mph acceleration time: 4.5 s (4.7 s)[86]
  • Convertible 0–100 km/h acceleration time: 5.1 s (5.3 s)[87]
  • Convertible 0–60 mph acceleration time: 4.9 s (5.1 s)[88]
  • Coupe/Saloon 80–120 km/h acceleration time in 4th/5th gear: 4.9/6.0 s (4.2/5.2 s)[85]
  • Convertible 80–120 km/h acceleration time in 4th/5th gear: 5.7/7.1 s (5.0/6.3 s)[87]

Independently Tested performance (E92):

  • 0–60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration time: 3.9 s measured by Car and Driver magazine (2010 E92 w/ DCT)[79]
  • 1/4 mile time: 12.4 s at 114 mph (183 km/h) measured by Car and Driver magazine (2011 E92 w/ M-DCT Trans)[79]
  • Top Speed: 155 mph (249 km/h) (electronically limited) Delimited: 178 mph (286 km/h)[79]

M3 Pickup (2011)[edit]

The M3 Pickup is a one-off custom variant of the M3 based on the E93 M3 convertible. It has a capacity of 20 standard 46-inch golf bags. It was used as a workshop transport vehicle for BMW M GmbH, replacing their E30 M3 pickup version after 26 years of use.[11][89]

The vehicle was assembled by M GmbH's employees, as well as interns and engineering students.[90]

E92 M3 ZCP Competition Package[edit]

For 2011, BMW added the ZCP Competition Package to the M3s lineup. Unlike the ZCP offered on the previous generation E46, the newest package didn't change very much about the E92. Most of the adjustments were made to suspension components and the computer governing stability control. The changes for the E92 ZCP are as follows:

- The suspension was lowered by 10 mm. The spring rates are the same, but the springs themselves are shorter, to compensate for the shorter stance. The suspension's shock damping was also adjusted by the M division. This was in order to compensate for the lower ride height, primarily for rebounding damping rates as opposed to actual compression.

- The Electronic Damper Control in the "Sport Mode" was modified. A quote taken from the Manager of BMWNA's M Division, Larry Koch: "The Sport Mode before ZCP was locked at 75% of the way to full stiff. It still has that as a default, but is now variable like the 'Comfort' and 'Normal' modes." This translates to a stiffer ride whilst sport mode is engaged, aiding heavy cornering on a track at a cost to ride comfort when driving normally on the road.

- In addition, forged 19 inch wheels in the same style as those on the E46 CSL are added to the car.

E92 M3 GTS[edit]


BMW announced the M3 GTS in November 2009. The car is powered by a 4.4-litre V8 based on the 4.0-litre engine found in the standard M3, which produces a maximum power output of 450 PS (331 kW; 444 hp). The car weighs 136 kg (300 lb) less than the standard M3 due to various weight savings. A total of only 135 cars were sent out to customers.[91] This version of the M3 could accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 4.4 seconds.[92] In Germany deliveries began in May 2010 while other countries were scheduled for the summer of 2010. The BMW E92 M3 GTS was priced at around €115,000 per unit.[93] All E92 M3 GTS models have been sold.[94]

E90 M3 CRT[edit]

BMW M3 CRT (E90)

The M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) was announced in June 2011 as a 2012 model.[95] It was powered by the same engine as the GTS, but in opposite to the GTS coupe with roll cage and 4-point harnesses, the CRT was a saloon with navigation, high-end sound system etc. as standard equipment. Despite these luxury extras, the car still weighed 100 lb (45 kg) less than a regular M3 saloon. Compared to a saloon with the same luxury equipment, it weighed 155 lb (70 kg) less. The production was limited to 67 cars, all numbered with a plaque on the dashboard. It was claimed that it could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.4 seconds.[96]

E92 M3 DTM Champion Edition[edit]

BMW Motorsport returned to the DTM in 2012, and the "DTM Champion Edition" was built to commemorate it winning the championship.[97] The "DTM Champion Edition" was available only in the Frozen Black paint finish with the same M stripes over the roof and boot lid as on Bruno Spengler's race car. It also incorporated visual clues to the race car, such as carbon flaps and gurney, dark chrome elements and matt black wheels. The interior had some exclusive parts such as interior trim in carbon fibre, Alcantara steering wheel and "M Power" embroidered on the handbrake grip. Each car had a numbered plaque with Spengler's signature and the text "DTM champion 2012" above the glove box.

As the car was focused on high performance, options as M Drive, M DCT Drivelogic and the M Driver's Package were fitted as standard equipment. For the car to have everyday usability, options as navigation system, heated seats and PDC were also standard.

The DTM Champion Edition was produced from February 2013, in a limited number of 54 cars, the same number as BMW's victories in DTM. In Germany, the price started at €99,000.00 including VAT.

E92 M3 Lime Rock Park Edition[edit]

BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition
BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition

The M3 Lime Rock Park Edition was a US specific model, with a production limited to 200 cars, all painted in Fire Orange. All 200 of these 2013 vehicles came with carbon fibre performance parts, such as roof, front splitter, rear spoiler, competition package, a lowered ride height in front of .60 inches, track style steering with fewer turns to lock and a lightweight muffler, courtesy of BMW's M division. BMW claims the model has no added horsepower, however, when marketing the lightweight Inconel-titanium BMW Motorsports Exhaust to stock M3 vehicles, BMW Claims that the system adds about 5 hp (3.7 kW). The Lime Rock Park editions were equipped with either a 6 speed manual transmission, or the optional DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission). No changes made to the original 4.0L V8 (309 kW; 420 PS (414 hp), redline 8,300 rpm); however the ECU is programmed slightly differently from standard M3 vehicles with less interference from the dynamic stability control and a less interfering traction control. Each LRP edition's governor is limited for achieving its natural top speed, which is claimed to be 187 mph (301 km/h). Each M3 LRP Edition comes with a numbered plaque and paper certificate, each one reading "One of 200" instead of a numbering sequence. BMW did this to ensure none of the cars were worth more than another.[98]

E92/E93 M3 Limited Edition 500[edit]

In mid 2012 the BMW M3 Limited Edition 500 was launched in the UK and offered with an enhanced specification over the standard car. BMW only built 500 Limited Edition models in both coupé and convertible bodystyles. Although the Limited Edition 500 is mechanically unchanged over the standard car, BMW included extra equipment worth more than £4000, as standard. The new models cost £55,690 (coupé) and £59,785 (convertible) respectively; £1000 more than the base model.

The BMW M3 Limited Edition 500 was available in three colours: Imola Red, Mineral White and Santorini Blue, reflecting the colours of the iconic 'M' badge. Each model has "One of 500" laser cut into the dashboard inlay. The cabin is trimmed in BMW's extended Novillo leather and features stitching to match the exterior colour. The grille surround, side gills and tailpipes are finished in dark chrome. Both the coupé and convertible have Shadowline exterior trim and black alloy wheels.[99]

BMW M3 (E92) Frozen Edition (South Africa)[edit]

Due to South Africa not getting the M3 GTS, BMW South Africa created the BMW M3 Frozen Edition in 2009. It was only available in two colours: Frozen Black or Frozen Grey, both matte. It produced 330 kW (449 PS; 443 hp) due to an AC Schnitzer intake manifold, exhaust revised engine management system. Only 25 were made.[100]


E92 M3 GT2[edit]

Schnitzer Motorsport's BMW M3 GT2 racing at the 2010 1000 km of Zhuhai.

BMW Motorsport announced in February 2008 that Rahal Letterman Racing will campaign two factory-backed E92 M3s in the American Le Mans Series in 2009, following a two-year absence by the brand. The cars are homologated for the GT2 category. This was the cover car for the simulation racing game Need for Speed: Shift. Schnitzer Motorsport entered 2 cars at the 1000 km of Spa and finished 4th after a move by the Ferrari in the final corner. For 2010, BMW Motorsport has been granted entry in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the 2010 24 Hours Nürburgring. BMW Motorsport/Schnitzer Motorsport went on to take an overall win at the 24 Hours Nürburgring with the No. 25 M3 GT2 of Jörg Müller, Augusto Farfus, Pedro Lamy, and Uwe Alzen while the top competitors from Porsche and Audi dropped out one by one. In addition, one of the M3 GT2's that competed at Le Mans (#79) has been chosen as the 17th BMW Art Car, which will be done by American artist, Jeff Koons.[101] At the 2010 24 Hours of Spa, BMW qualified 1st in class (2nd overall) and maintained 1st with the No. 79 car throughout the race until it succumbed to a suspension failure with just half an hour remaining, forcing them to give the overall lead to two Porsche 997 GT3-RSRs. The M3s still came 1st in the GTN class. The BMW M3s won the GT2 category in the ILMC 1000 km of Zhuhai. In 2011, the BMW achieved a 1-2 finish in the 12 Hours of Sebring. In the 2011 American Le Mans Series GT class, BMW Team RLL swept all categories, winning the GT manufacturer, team and driver championships. They contest another year in the ALMS GT class, coming off of another fantastic win at the 2012 60th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The M3 GT2 was succeeded by the BMW Z4 GTE, an LMGTE specification racing car alongside the Group GT3 spec BMW Z4 GT3. The Z4 GTE started racing at the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring.

E92 M3 GT4[edit]

On 10 April 2009, the week after the debut of the GT4, BMW's Customer Racing program announced it had partnered with Schubert Motorsport (sponsored by Motorsport Arena Oschersleben) to run the BMW M3 GT4 in the 2009 24 Hours Nürburgring race, in the new class for GT4 cars, listed as SP10 there. The BMW M3 GT4 also raced in the Nürburgring VLN ADAC Westfalenfahrt in April 2009, taking the win in the SP10 class and finishing 30th overall. The 2009 24h race took place on the weekend of 23 and 24 May, with Jörg Müller, Andy Priaulx and sport auto journalist Jochen Übler at the wheel. Despite qualifying as best SP10/GT4 car at 57th[102] overall and being at least 10 seconds per lap faster, the team finished third[103] in the class, behind two Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24. The overall rank was 47th.[104]

BMW Motorsport announced on 7 July 2009 the launch of a line of BMW M3 race cars which meet the SRO/FIA's GT4 spec and are oriented for sale to private teams and drivers. The BMW M3 GT4 price is 121,500 EUR without VAT.[105] While BMW states[106] that 'the BMW M3 GT4 weighs just 1,430 kilograms' and the 336 kW; 450 hp (450 bhp) engine remained largely untouched', the 2010 24 Hours Nürburgring "Balance of Performance"[107] requires that the power must not exceed 390 PS (287 kW; 385 hp), while the minimum weight is set to 1400 kg.

The M3 GT4 is offered in Europe as a homologated production race car for sale to the general public. According to Larry Koch, then BMW NA M-brand manager, a feasibility study is currently being conducted to evaluate the possible sale of the M3 GT4 in North America. However, without a sanctioned GT4-class racing series in the US, the sale of the M3 GT4 in the States is not likely.

Critical reception[edit]

  • Arthur St. Antoine of Motor Trend magazine says: "World's single greatest car? Seriously? Yes – the new BMW M3 is unquestionably a contender. Probably no other car combines so many virtues – speed, handling, good looks, roominess, practicality – into one package. Driving the new BMW M3 is an absolutely blissful experience, flooding your brain with dopamine as if you were arriving to courtside seats at the Lakers game with Jennifer Connelly on your arm." -and- "If you put an F1 car and a premium sedan in a blender, the M3 would be the cocktail that pours out. Mmmm, nothing else like it. A toast then: To the BMW M3, the greatest all-around car in the world."[108]
  • Mark Gillies of Car and Driver magazine says: "A car has got to be pretty spectacular to win over the curmudgeons here at 1585 Eisenhower Place, especially when familiarity sets in over the course of 40,000 miles. But our Sparkling Graphite Metallic M3 did indeed win us over.", and "Based on our experience, the current M3 is the world's all-around best car for the money, although several staffers would have preferred to trade some of the coupe's looks for the added practicality of the sedan.", and "This is the finest car on the market, period."[109]
  • Ezra Dyer of Automobile magazine once suggested that " magazines generally regard the M3 the same way a four-year-old regards Santa Claus."[110]
  • Jeremy Clarkson of BBC television show Top Gear says: "This [The M3] is the best car, and always will be, and there's no point in ever thinking otherwise."[111]
  • Mark Magrath of Edmunds Inside Line wrote these comments after driving a 2009 E90 M3 saloon in the canyons of Southern California: "This is the best most complete car in the world. It's actually a bargain for what you get. Wow."[112]
  • In the high-performance sports luxury niche (an entry-level luxury/small family car with a V8 engine), the E90 M3 (usually an E92 M3 Coupé being tested) has won comparison tests against rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, Lexus IS-F, Audi RS4, Audi RS5 and Cadillac CTS-V.[113][114][115][116][117][1]

F80 generation (2014–2018)[edit]

F80 M3
2017 BMW M3 (F80) sedan (2018-08-31) 01.jpg
2017 BMW M3 (post facelift)
AssemblyRegensburg, Germany
DesignerFlorian Nissl
Christopher Weil
Body and chassis
Body style4-door saloon
RelatedBMW 3 Series (F30)
Engine3.0 L S55B30T0 twin-turbocharged I6
Transmission6-speed manual
7-speed M-DCT
Wheelbase2,812 mm (110.7 in)
Length4,671 mm (183.9 in)
Width1,877 mm (73.9 in)
Height1,424 mm (56.1 in)
Curb weight1,621 kg (3,574 lb) (Manual)
1,647 kg (3,631 lb) (DCT)
BMW F80 M3 (pre-facelift)
The S55B30T0 Inline-6 engine

Production of the F80 M3 started in 2014 (2015 for the US),[118] introducing it as only a saloon following the company's plans to split off the BMW 4 Series coupé/convertible from the BMW 3 Series.[119] Unlike its E90 M3 saloon predecessor, but similar to that generation's E92 coupé, the F80 M3 features a carbon fibre roof and driveshaft. The F80 M3, as well as its coupe counterpart the M4, were revealed at the 2014 North American International Auto Show.[120]

The performance of the car has improved over the previous generation. The 7-speed M-DCT transmission accelerates the car from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.1 seconds. The 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time with the conventional 6-speed manual transmission is 4.3 seconds. The M3 and M4 run the standing kilometre in 22.20 seconds.[121] This is a comparable time to the 2006 Corvette Z06, which took 22.24s to accomplish the same.[122] Top speed is limited to 155 mph (249 km/h) but an optional M Driver's package raises this to 174 mph (280 km/h). The new engine generates up to 317 kW; 431 PS (425 hp) between 5,500 and 7,300 rpm and up to 406 lb-ft (550 N·m) of torque between 1,850 and 5,500 rpm.

The fifth generation M3's platform structure is made of steel, and the bonnet and front quarter panels from aluminium. From the front doors back, the body is steel with exception of the carbon fibre roof.[123]

M3 Competition[edit]

BMW F80 M3 Competition Package (UK; facelift)

In February 2016, BMW announced the M3/M4 Competition Package. Power is now increased to 331 kW; 450 PS (444 hp) and a revised suspension replaces the standard unit for better handling. The new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars supplement the included Adaptive M Suspension. BMW also re-tuned the electronic differential and the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) to match the upgraded hardware. The package also features 20" forged light alloy wheels (Style 666M) with performance non run-flat tires. Michelin Pilot Super Sport.[124] The interior remains largely unchanged, but the Competition Package cars get new lightweight sport seats along with the M-striped woven seat belts. The exterior includes the M Sport exhaust with black chrome tailpipes and high gloss Shadow Line exterior trim. Gloss black trim is added to the kidney grille, side gills, and model badge on the trunk.[125]

With the competition package the M3 accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.0 seconds while using the dual clutch transmission (DCT).[125]

The Competition package costs an added US$4,750 for the M3/M4 on top of its base price.[125]

M3 CS[edit]


In late 2017, the light weight version of the M3 dubbed the M3 CS (Club Sport) was launched continuing the tradition of high performance light weight M cars. The S55B30T0 twin-turbo Inline-6 engine is now updated and generates 339 kW; 460 PS (454 hp) and 601 N⋅m (443 lb⋅ft) of torque, 21 kW; 28 PS (28 hp) and 50 N⋅m (37 lb⋅ft) more than the standard M3 respectively. Exterior enhancements include a carbon fibre front spoiler, a rear diffuser and a rear lip spoiler along with new 763M wheels (19-inch at the front and 20-inch at the rear). The interior remains luxurious and combines leather and Alcantara with carbon fibre deleting the arm rest and featuring thin side windows. All of these measures result in weight savings of 50 kg (110 lb) over the standard M3. Four new colour choices are available namely San Marino Blue Metallic, Lime Rock Grey Metallic, Frozen Dark Blue II Metallic and Black Sapphire Metallic. Orders for the M3 CS started in May 2018 with a limited production run of 1,200 units world wide.[126]


It was announced in February 2018 that the F80 M3 will cease production May 2018, as the current model would not be able to comply with new emissions regulations from the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure. The new regulations would require a gasoline particulate filter to be installed on the vehicle. Retrofitting of the filter would require significant re-engineering of a vehicle’s underside due to the amount of space it requires. The replacement for the F80 M3 is scheduled to be launched in 2020 while the M4 coupe variant will continue production.[127] The company later stated that production will continue due to the immediate unavailability of the new model.[128] Production ended in October 2018.[129]

Production numbers for versions[edit]

Global production numbers for 1985-2013
Version E30 E36[23] E46[51] E9x[84]
Sedan 12,603 9,674
Coupe 18,843 [13] 46,525 56,133 40,092
Convertible 786 [14] 12,114 29,633 16,219
Sum 19,629 71,242 85,766 65,985


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