BMW has unveiled its new M3 and M4 performance models claiming to offer a blend of everyday usability and track-focused performance.
On sale in the UK from early 2021 exclusively in the more powerful Competition spec, the saloon and coupe models both pack the same drivetrain beneath their eye-catching bodywork, with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six ensuring their performance measures up to the expected M standards.
With 59bhp more than the outgoing M3, the 503bhp, 469lb ft unit will push both cars to 62mph in just 3.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155mph for both but an optional M Pro pack raises that to 180mph.
At launch both cars will be rear-wheel drive but in summer 2021 four-wheel-drive variants will join the line-up for the first time, badged as M xDrive. The bespoke xDrive setup will allow owners to select between different torque distribution settings, including one which will send everything to the rear wheels while also disabling the stability control. Both two- and four-wheel drive cars come with a 10-stage traction control system to cope with everything from pouring rain to dry roads and track use.
All versions will come with an eight-speed automatic as standard, with the UK not getting the lower-powered manual transmission version. Adaptive dampers are also standard on the M3 Competition and M4 Competition, as are six-piston brake calipers on the front which, for the first time can be painted red or black as well as the traditional blue of M cars.
They also come with M Drive Professional - a data logging system that lets owners monitor their on-track driving and adapt their behaviour to improve lap times. Or they can abandon that and use the M Drift Analyser to see how good they are at going sideways.
To mark the latest M3 and M4 out clearly from their lesser stablemates both cars get a striking new grille that’s sure to divide opinion. The large vertical grille is similar to that debuted on the new 4 Series but here it is all black and split into two distinct halves with horizontal louvres. The grille shape is echoed in indentations in the bonnet and both M cars also get unique front and rear bumpers, widened wings and sills, a boot spoiler and multi-channel diffuser.
Four exclusive paint finishes - Sao Paulo Yellow non-metallic, Toronto Red metallic and Isle of Man Green metallic - also differentiate the M cars from regular models and there is an optional model-specific M Carbon exterior pack.
Inside, sports seats, a sports steering wheel, high-gloss carbon fibre trim and a smattering of M badges identify the performance versions, with M Carbon bucket seats, which use carbon fibre-reinforced plastic in their construction to save nearly 10kg, an optional extra.
Both models get BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional with head-up display, three-zone climate control, adaptive laser headlights, cloud-based live navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
On sale from next March, the M3 Competition will cost from £74,755, while the M4 Competition will start at £76,055.
For buyers after more practicality than the saloon, an M3 estate will join the line-up at a later date.