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2015 BMW M3 Preview

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Pros: The fabled BMW M3 returns for 2015 after a brief hiatus. This aggressive-looking, track-tuned compact luxury sedan comes with a new turbocharged 6-cylinder engine that promises exemplary power. As always, expect stellar handling and agreeable ride, along with a slew of high-tech, performance-oriented components and technologies. It is, after all, the so-called “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Cons: On the flip side, the V8 soundtrack is gone, and some M3 buyers may find a fully optioned model to be a little out of their reach.

By the way, if you prefer your M performance in a 2-door body, turn to the all-new M4 coupe.

BMW M3
Photo: BMW M3

2015 BMW M3 Price: Buyers can get a brand new M3 for a base MSRP of $74,000, or $77,900 with the dual-clutch transmission, then add options such as M carbon ceramic brakes ($8,500), a Technology Package ($1,500), an Executive Package ($5,000), and a Premium Package ($4,500).

2015 BMW M3 Fuel Economy: The official combined city-highway rating for this four-door pocket rocket is 11.6L/100km with the manual transmission and 12.0L/100km with the autobox, which is remarkable considering the power on tap (see below). The optimum shift indicator, auto start/stop, and brake energy regeneration system deserve part of the credit.

Improvements and Changes: Based on the latest 3 Series, the new 2015 BMW M3 is larger, yet about 175 lbs lighter than its predecessor thanks to aluminum suspension and chassis components, a new carbon fibre roof, and increased use of high-strength steel throughout the body. The powertrain has been completely upgraded, as well.

Inside, you'll find all-new M seats with optimized support and comfort, along with a choice of new trim options.

Don't miss: Advanced aerodynamic work has been done to ensure minimum drag and maximum cooling. The striking front bumper visually embodies the M vehicles' specific aerodynamics concept. On the racetrack, large air inlets ensure perfect cooling of the engine, charge air, oil and brakes, as well as cooling of the dual-clutch transmission oil. The two vertical inlets and the side M gills with integrated “Air Breather” behind the wheel arches create an accelerated flow of air around the front wheels.

2015 BMW M3 Powertrain: Say goodbye to the old 4.0L V8 and get reacquainted with BMW's acclaimed 3.0L inline 6-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine, which in this application generates 425 horsepower from 5,500-7,300 rpm. Peak torque is 406 lb-ft, available from 1,800-5,500 rpm. The new mill happens to be 22 lbs lighter than the outgoing V8.

Two transmissions are available including a new 6-speed manual and a 7-speed dual-clutch unit that will deliver 0-100 km/h sprints in 4.3 and 4.1 seconds, respectively (thank you, launch control!). The new Active M Differential not only improves straight-line acceleration, but because it can vary its locking percentage between the rear wheels within milliseconds, it is also tuned to maximize grip and traction, aiding the car's ability to rotate in response to the driver's inputs.

Safety: In addition to stability and traction control, the 2015 BMW M3 offers a host of modern safety and driver assistance systems including pedestrian collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and M-specific head-up display. A high-beam assistant and adaptive LED headlights effectively enhance visibility at night. A parking assistant and various camera systems are available, too.

Comparing the 2015 BMW M3: Alternatives to the new M3 sedan include the 2014 Lexus IS F and 2014 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG, although they're based on the previous-generation IS and C-Class, respectively. Don't forget about the Cadillac CTS Vsport.