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2008 BMW M3 First Impressions

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Amyot Bachand
Another step forward

Laguna Seca, California - The fourth-generation M3 is more refined than ever. With hot new competitors like the Audi RS4 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG getting all the attention lately in the ultra-high performance compact segment, BMW decided to bring the sedan back to its M3 lineup, alongside the coupe and the upcoming convertible, which is set to arrive in Europe in a couple of weeks. A wagon and a AWD model would complete the picture and allow the Bavarian automaker to maintain a stronghold on this market (AWD is a more realistic proposition). On the track and on the road, the new M3 offers supreme power, balance and confidence-inspiring handling.

The M3 is equally at ease on the track and on byroads.

Wider, racier
BMW engineers have made the new model over 20-kg lighter by extensively using aluminum for suspension components, the hood and even the engine crankshaft. The roof is now made of carbon fiber to further lighten the car while making it even more rigid.

If you look at the new M3 from the back, you'll notice that the flared fenders give it a racy, aggressive look. They also house some serious rubber.

As for the coupe, only the doors, windshield and trunk were carried over -- everything else has been redesigned. The aluminum hood features a power bulge to accommodate the new and mighty 4.0L V8. Two air intakes were added to help the engine breathe more easily.

The front grille is overshadowed by huge lower openings allowing improved brake and radiator fluid cooling as well as forced-air engine feeding. The near-flat floor, combined with the split diffuser beneath the rear bumper, optimizes the airflow under the car, thus maximizing handling. Elsewhere, the redesigned mirrors not only provide great visibility but also increased downforce.

BMW understood that M3 buyers use it as an everyday car. Most of them have kids or regular carpoolers. The new M3 sedan will certainly meet their needs, seeing as how access to the rear seats in the coupe and convertible requires odd contortions.

Every little detail has been carefully studied to create the ultimate compact sedan.
Amyot Bachand
Amyot Bachand
Automotive expert