Year after year, BMW has us wondering, “How?” For instance, the 32-valve, 4.0-liter V8 in this year’s M3 is two cylinders larger than the inline six that powered the pre-2008 M3s, and yet the new V8 is lighter. In fact, it’s the lightest V8 in the world. Producing 420 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, it revs to 8,300 rpm and features many weight- and power-saving features - electronic throttle control and cooling, an aluminum and silicon alloy crankcase, a distributor-less electronic ignition system, and variable valve timing. With its six-speed manual transmission with hill-holder clutch, it puts up EPA estimates of 14/20 mpg.
And those aren’t the only weight-saving features of the M3. A carbon-fiber roof and aluminum hood not only shave weight, they lower the car's center of gravity, improving the M3’s already impressive cornering ability. This rear-wheel-drive, two-door monster has a specially calibrated suspension, with stiffened dampers and springs, an aluminum double-pivot gas-pressurized strut-type front suspension, a five-link rear suspension with coil springs and gas-pressurized shocks, and stabilizer bars front and rear. The 18-inch wheels are 8.5 inches wide up front and 9.5 in the rear, and come shod in P245/40ZR18 front and P265/40ZR18 rear performance tires. A limited-slip differential, traction control, and dynamic stability control further help to keep everything nice and civilized, even if you aren’t.
There are many exterior features to identify the M3, like front air intake scoops, the M rear spoiler, flared fenders and wheel arches to accommodate the larger wheels, side air intake and fender gills, a chrome grille, clear signal lenses, unique M power heated mirrors, unique door handles with ground lighting, and, of course, M badging. Unique M features continue on the interior, with an M three-spoke leather-wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel with integrated audio and phone controls, as well as M-color stitching and an M-design cluster with faux-aluminum dials for the gauges. You’ll also enjoy the usual 3 Series fare, with 8-way power front bucket seats, driver memory system, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with digital media connection, tri-zone climate control, dynamic cruise, and full power features, including heated door locks and remote keyless entry.
Daytime running lights and steering-linked adaptive xenon headlights handle luminosity on the outside, while illuminated visor mirrors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and ambient interior lighting take care of the inside. Rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers with heated washer jets mean you’ll never have to worry about a dirty view. A center console leads back to the split-folding rear seat, while a trip computer and outside temperature indicator keep all relevant information right at hand. Safety features include a tire pressure monitor, four-wheel ventilated swing-caliper disc brakes with vacuum assist and anti-skid, dual front, front side, and front and rear side head-protecting airbags, front-seat active head restraints, and a theft-deterrent system.