The fourth generation BMW M3 was announced on the 2007 Geneva Motor Show (Switzerland, 6–18 March 2007) with the BMW M3 concept.
As was the case with the E46 M3 Concept and E60 M5 Concept, the M3 Concept had almost nothing of the looks of the production version, that had its world premiere on the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show IAA (Germany, 13 to 23 September).
It was originally set to be called M4 along with 3 Series coupes and convertibles that were to become the 4 Series, but due to the interest in retaining the M3 line, as well as the plan for a separate 4 series line, this change was scrapped.
Similar to the previous M3 generations that introduced a new engine, the fourth generation M3 did the same: the BMW S65 V8 engine. The engine produces 414 bhp (309 kW; 420 PS) at 8300 rpm, with peak torque of 295 lb·ft (400 N·m) at 3900 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. As of April 2008, BMW offers a new seven speed Getrag double-clutch gearbox, 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 (62 mph) sprint time by 0.2 seconds vs. manual. 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 coupe inherited a carbon-fiber 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. Recent testing by Car and Driver magazine has shown that the 2011 M3 equipped with an M-DCT transmission accelerated from 0–60 mph in 3.9 seconds and went on to record a 12.4 second quarter mile time. This is almost half a second quicker than 2008–2010 M3 models with the same engine and transmission.
The new M3 is 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 headlights. Saloons, however, do not get the coupe's carbon-fiber roof, and are 22 lb (10 kg) heavier than identically equipped coupes.
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. 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, 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 Coupe. The convertible uses a power retractable hardtop which adds 441 lb (200 kg) to the weight of the car, bringing the total to 1,810 kg (3,990 lb) 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.
Official times as published by BMW (6-speed manual times in parentheses):
Coupe/Saloon 0–100 km/h: 4.6 s (4.8 s)
Coupe/Saloon 0–60 mph 4.5 s (4.7 s)
Convertible 0–100 km/h 5.1 s (5.3 s)
Convertible 0–60 mph 4.9 s (5.1 s)
Coupe/Saloon 80–120 km/h in 4th/5th gear 4.9/6.0 s (4.2/5.2 s)
Convertible 80–120 km/h in 4th/5th gear 5.7/7.1 s (5.0/6.3 s)
0–60 mph 3.9 s measured by Car and Driver magazine (2010 E92 w/ DCT)
1/4 mile: 12.4 s @ 114 mph measured by Car and Driver magazine (2011 E92 w/ M-DCT Trans)
Top Speed: 155 mph (electronically limited) Delimited: 178 mph (286 km/h)
For 2011, BMW added the ZCP Competition Package to the M3’s 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 has been lowered by 10mm. 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" has been 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.
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 of 450 PS (331 kW; 444 hp). The car weighs 300 pounds less than the standard M3 due to various weight savings. A total of only 135 were sent out to customers units were produced. This can accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 4.3 seconds and 0-100 mph in 8.5 seconds. 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. All E92 M3 GTS models have been sold.
The M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) was announced in June 2011 as a 2012 model. 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.
BMW Motorsport returned to the DTM in 2012, and the "DTM Champion Edition" was built to commemorate it winning the championship. 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.
The M3 Lime Rock Park Edition was a US specific model, with a production limited to 200 cars, painted in Fire Orange. All 200 of these 2013 vehicles came with carbon fiber 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 MGmbh 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 H.P. The Lime Rock Park editions were equipped with either 6 speed transmissions, or the optional DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission). No changes made to the original 4.0L V8 (414 HP, redline 8300 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 (Roughly 300 kph). 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.
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.
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 onto to take an overall win at the 24 Hours Nürburgring with the #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. At the 2010 24 Hours of Spa, BMW qualified 1st in class (2nd overall) and maintained 1st with the #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.
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 overall and being at least 10 seconds per lap faster, the team finished third in the class, behind two Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24. The overall rank was 47th.
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. While BMW states that 'the BMW M3 GT4 weighs just 1,430 kilograms' and the '420 bhp engine remained largely untouched', the 2010 24 Hours Nürburgring "Balance of Performance" requires that the power must not exceed 390 PS (557 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 USA, the sale of the M3 GT4 in the States is not likely.
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."
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."
Ezra Dyer of Automobile magazine once suggested that "...car magazines generally regard the M3 the same way a four-year-old regards Santa Claus."
Jeremy Clarkson of BBC television show Top Gear says: "This is the best car, and always will be, and there's no point in ever thinking otherwise."
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."
In the high-performance sports luxury niche (an entry-level luxury/compact executive 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.
Production 2007–July 5, 2013(sedan discontinued in 2011)
Assembly Regensburg, Germany
Designer Karl John Elmitt (coupe) , Hans-Bruno Starke (sedan)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door (E90) saloon, 2-door (E92) coupe, 2-door (E93) convertible
Related BMW 3 Series
Engine 4.0 L S65 V8
Wheelbase 108.7 in (2,761 mm)
2011– Coupe & Convertible: 181.8 in (4,618 mm)
2011– saloon: 180.4 in (4,582 mm)
2008–2010 Coupe: 181.4 in (4,608 mm)
2008–2010 Convertible: 181.7 in (4,615 mm)
2011– Coupe: 71.7 in (1,821 mm)
2011– Saloon: 71.5 in (1,816 mm)
2011– Convertible: 71.0 in (1,803 mm)
2011– Coupe & 2008–2010 Convertible: 55.6 in (1,412 mm)
2008–2011 saloon: 57.0 in (1,448 mm)
2011– Convertible: 54.8 in (1,392 mm)
2008–2010 Coupe: 54.2 in (1,377 mm)
Coupe: 1,655 kg (3,649 lb)
Saloon: 1,685 kg (3,715 lb)
Convertible: 1,810 kg (3,990 lb)