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BMW's M-warriors arrive: M3/M4 in SA

2014-07-03 13:37

NEW M3 AND M4 ARRIVES: BMW's fifth-generation M3 sedan (bottom) and its coupe variant, the M4, have arrived in South Africa. Image: BMW


KYALAMI, Gauteng - E30, E36, E46, E92… For nearly 30 years and through four automotive generations BMW's M3 has remained an incredible all-rounder that performance-car enthusiasts continue to purchase in droves.

The M3 needs no introduction but it's deserving of one all the same - BMW’s M3 is a hallmark of race-bred Beemers and since 1985 remains one of the most respected of performance badges.

GALLERY: 2014 M3 Sedan
GALLERY: 2014 BMW M4 coupe

The fifth-generation BMW M3 (F80) has arrived in South Africa (July 2014). Wheels24 experienced the sedan and its M4 coupe variant at Kyalami race track in Midrand, Gauteng.


It's worth mentioning that the new M3 is part of a flurry of new BMW and Mini units for SA: eight are expected over the course of 2014, but more on that later...

The M-cars promise more performance and enhanced efficiency than their immediate V8 predecessor. Is the new M3 still deserving of your respect? In short, absolutely and here’s why...

The 2014 version is now exclusively a four-door sedan; the two-door coupe now has a unique *naming strategy", as seen in the 2 and 4 Series,  in this case as the first-generation M4.

The 2014 BMW M3 will set you back R955 592, the M4 R997 500.


As is the case with most automakers, BMW has shifted towards turbo'd downsizing in favour of more power, efficiency and cleaner exhausts. The previous 309kW/400Nm four-litre, non-turbo, V8 has been replaced with a three-litre twin-turbo straight-six that's capable of 317kW/550Nm, an increase of eight kW/150Nm compared to the previous E90 M3.

Who better to tell us more about the new M3 and M4 than the man who helped create it - BMW M-car chief engineer Albert Biermann? Click here and for a fantastic clip on the new M3 and M4 as Biermann shares his thoughts on the latest M-badged twins!

The engine can be mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed double-clutch transmission (DCT). Fuel consumption has decreased from 11.2  to 8.3 litres/100km and CO2 emissions from 266 to 194g/km.

Offered for the first time in the M3/M4 is BMW's new electro-mechanical servotronic steering giving drivers the choice of three settings – Comfort, Sport and Sport+ . The adaptive M suspension provides similar choices.

The increase in power and torque translates to a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.3sec (4.1sec in auto guise) for either car with top speed limited to 250km/h.

News of the controversial shift from V8 power left fans of the M3 grumbling about its "sound". The twin-turbo doesn’t roar in the same head-turning way as the old V8 but it’s not “soft” by any stretch of the imagination.

The M3's non-rubber-isolated rear sub-frame, stiffer chassis and reduced sound-insulation combine to make this latest M-car noticeably louder and that's a good thing. BMW compromised comfort (read: your eardrums) to benefit performance and I applaud them for it, after all, these M-badged beasts shouldn't be muted.


All M-cars let drivers tailor the car from comfort to sport by tweaking the engine, transmission, steering and dynamics to suit. Switching all options to sport while leaving the steering in comfort (read - light) makes for a rather "playful" experience around a track.

Driving it around the soon-to-be-sold Kyalami was an incredible experience, as the M3/M4 are incredible sports cars. 

BMW's latest M-warriors are sublime - the cars are impeccably balanced, the throttle progressive and they're able to grip through a curve superbly... provided you’re not too eager on the accelerator as you enter corners and even then its traction control and active M suspension will save you.

Tuck it into a corner, slice through an apex, gradually add power as you line up your next turning point - both M3 and M4 will go exactly where you want and deliver exactly what you expect of them. They're balanced to the point of being clinical though not so much that you're unable to get the rear out, on a race track that is...


I had the pleasure of witnessing BMW German Touring Car Masters driver Bruno Spengler in action at the wheel of a new M3/M4. It's not until you're in the passenger seat while a driver of Spengler's calibre pushes the new M-car though a spirited drive can you truly appreciate how great the new M-twins are.

Watching the way he powers down a straight, effortlessly steering and sliding around a bend and throttling his way out is jaw-dropping – anyone can drive an M-car fast but Spengler manages to make it dance. These are not merely fast cars - the magic is in "the way" they're fast as BMW’s engineering comes to the fore to create a truly special car.

So which is better, M3 or M4? It's a difficult decision from a driver’s perspective as the differences are imperceptible (0-100km/h sprint, weight etc) and around Kyalami, they're practically identical.

The previous V8 M3 had arguably more character and required more involvement. The new version, replete with BMW motorsport refinement, is “easier” to drive, has more power and, more importantly, is better poised on the road. In short, BMW has made a brilliant, rival-crushing sports car that builds on its superb predecessor and then some.

Backed by an astonishing twin-turbo in-line six, race-car balance and incredible handling, the new M-twins set a high-standard in race-car to road-car engineering.


The M3 sedan measures 4.6m long /1.8wide and 1.4 tall, the M4 coupe's dimensions are 4.6m/1.8m/1.3m and both cars share the same wheelbase of 2.8m. The sedan is slightly lower with 120mm ground clearance compared to the coupe's 121.

The sedan is the more practical of the two as it has more doors, more rear headroom, more luggage capacity (480 litres to the coupe’s 445). The cabin is comfortable, beautifully trimmed, superbly finished though utilitarian in nature. It has stitched leather surfaces through and either car can be specified with contrasting tones and colour combinations.

It looks great in white leather though won't be as durable as its darker-toned counterparts.

The cabin has an emphasis on sporty ambiance with traditional M-specific details: M-door sill finishers, M-gearshift lever, M-design circular instruments with white graphics, leather steering-wheel (with M logo, chromed trim and iconic triple-colour contrast stitching) and metallic shift paddles.

Both cars come with an extensive list of standard equipment; adaptive M-suspension, 19” alloy rims, heatable and powered M-badged seats, gloss exterior trim and the BMW Professional audio package with upgraded Bluetooth.

The M3/M4 are equipped with BMW's ConnectedDrive assistance systems including upgraded satnav, driving assistant plus, (warns you of a looming collision with a pedestrian), high-beam assist, active protection with attention assist and a further developed version of the automaker's active cruise control with stop/start.

The optional head-up (windscreen projection) display has additional, M-specific functions such as a gear display, rev-counter and shift indicator.


Over the course of a year BMW and Mini will bring eight new models locally. Joining the M3/M4 in July 2014 will be the new 4 Series Gran Coupe. The new X4 and face-lifted X3 will be launched in September 2014 followed by the M4 convertible in October/November 2014.

BMW SA will kick off 2015 with the introduction of its new 2 Series Active Tourer and X6 in February 2015.

Mini will launch its new Countryman and face-lifted Paceman in September 2014.

*The automaker’s naming scheme is a relatively simple formula - two-door vehicles (coupes and convertibles) begin with even numbers, while odd numbers are reserved for more family-orientated sedans and estates.

Read more on:    bmw  |  south africa  |  new models  |  sports cars  |  m3

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