- Lighter, more powerful, more fuel-efficient than previous M3
- V-8 engine replaced by turbocharged inline 6-cylinder
- Exposed carbon fiber reinforced plastic roof construction
- Optional next-generation technology and safety features
Returning to the 3 Series lineup for 2015, the performance-tuned BMW M3 is offered only as a 4-door sedan, the former 2-door coupe migrating to the new 4 Series lineup and now called the BMW M4. The new 2015 BMW M3 will compete with other high-performance vehicles including the Audi S4, the rumored Cadillac ATS-V, and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
Visually, the 2015 BMW M3 Sedan is easily distinguished from the 3 Series Sedan upon which it is based. Restyled in front, with larger air intakes and a built-in Venturi effect to reduce front axle lift and improve steering feel, the new BMW M3 is equipped with an aluminum power dome hood, exposed carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof, Gurney-style rear spoiler, and a rear diffuser panel. Flared wheel arches and M-style side gills with what BMW calls "air breathers" are standard, along with a black grille treatment, twin-stalk aerodynamic side mirrors, and a smooth underbody.
Inside, BMW ensures that the M3 Sedan stands apart from the 3 Series through the use of numerous M-badged upgrades, as well as white gauge graphics, an M Sport double-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and M Sport front seats with single-piece front seatbacks and M logos. The seats are wrapped in leather, feature exposed color-contrast stitching, and sit beneath a BMW Individual Anthracite-colored headliner. The standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks feature additional contouring for improved lateral support compared with a 3 Series.
BMW has, as this preview is written, named just a handful of the 2015 M3 Sedan's available options. Highlights include power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, a next-generation iDrive system with the latest BMW Professional navigation system, and a head-up display with specific M3 readouts. The new M3 can also be optioned with adaptive LED headlights and an Active Driving Assistant designed to reduce the likelihood of a collision with a pedestrian.
Under the Hood
For the 2015 M3 Sedan, BMW swaps out the previous 4.0-liter V-8 engine in favor of a new turbocharged, 3.0-liter, inline 6-cylinder engine rated to make 425 horsepower between 5,500 rpm and 7,300 rpm, and 406 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,850 rpm and 5,500 rpm. In addition to proving itself more powerful, and capable of generating far more torque, than the previous M3's V-8 engine, this new turbocharged 6-cylinder engine is expected to return a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency.
The M3's engine is equipped with a dry sump oiling system and a track-ready cooling system, and BMW reduces drivetrain weight and rotating mass by employing a forged crankshaft and a CFRP propeller shaft. The result of the latter upgrades, according to BMW, is improved throttle response and acceleration. When equipped with the standard 6-speed manual gearbox, BMW claims the new M3 accelerates to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. For 2015, the M3 Sedan's manual transmission features automatic throttle blipping when the driver downshifts.
A 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M-DCT) is optional, shaving two-tenths off the run to 60 mph, BMW says. It includes paddle shifters, rev matching, Launch Control, and Drivelogic powertrain settings. A new Stability Clutch Control system is designed to reduce understeer.
Every M3 Sedan is equipped with an Active M Differential and an M Dynamic Mode that relaxes the traction and stability control system in order to deliver a wider performance envelope. A twin-pipe exhaust system with four polished outlets is standard, along with lighter-weight aluminum suspension components and a CFRP strut tower brace. An optional Adaptive M Suspension includes Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings, which are matched by the standard M Servotronic electric steering system. BMW M compound brakes bring the standard staggered-width M double-spoke 18-inch forged aluminum wheels and tires to a halt. Options include both BMW M carbon ceramic brakes with gold calipers and optional 19-inch forged aluminum wheels in Black or Ferric Gray finishes.
The 2015 BMW M3 Sedan's safety-related features include adaptive LED headlights that help to improve visibility, as well as an Active Driving Assistant feature that is designed to help the driver to avoid low-speed collisions in congested areas.
A BMW M Laptimer App will be available to M3 Sedan buyers. Pair a smartphone to the car and this feature will record key performance data that can be analyzed later to help improve driver skill on a particular racetrack.