What it Is
BMW M3 Concept Preview – Geneva Auto Show: It’s a common question for folks in this line of work: If you had to pick just one car to drive, what would it be? Just as common an answer: The BMW M3. The car isn’t perfect, but it may be as close as we’ll get in this world. The last M3 was such a wonderful driving machine that it could make a grown man weep. Now in Geneva, BMW is showing us a “concept” of the next M3, based on the current 3 Series coupe and powered by a 400-plus horsepower V8. It also has a carbon fiber roof, unique aerodynamics and styling, and the potential to start a whole new round of waterworks among those who drive it.
Why it Matters
BMW doesn’t sell a lot of M3s. They don’t add very much money to the coffers, but as a halo car for the 3 Series – which is practically a brand unto itself – they are priceless as showroom traffic and publicity generators. The M3 also helps BMW keep its “Ultimate Driving Machine” reputation intact. They’re attainable supercars, with prices generally starting in the $50,000 range. OK, that’s not an econo-car sticker, but you only need to be filthy rich to get into one, maybe just a little dusty is all. Top it off with the everyday drivability of the M3 and you’re looking at a car for all seasons and reasons.
What’s Under the Hood
BMW’s official information about the M3 Concept didn’t mention the powertrain, except to say that the V8 under the hood will likely make it to the production version. We’re guessing that the engine is some flavor of the 4.8-liter V8 currently under the hood of the 5 Series, 6 Series and 7 Series. Our guess is that it will be connected to either BMW’s twin-clutch automated manual or a six-speed manual transmission. Naturally it’ll have a suspension to make the most of its powertrain. What we’re hoping isn’t in the mix is BMW’s active steering system or more iDrive nonsense. Oh, BMW, make the “off” switch on the traction control actually turn the damn thing all the way off. Please?
What it Looks Like
Basing a car’s styling on the current 3 Series coupe is not a bad way to start things off. The M3 Concept builds on its already aggressive platform base with a bulging, vented hood, gaping air intakes below the bumper, vented front fenders, a carbon fiber roof with the structure visible under clearcoat, unique 19-inch wheels and four big tailpipes. Regardless, the look is still a subtle rethinking of the standard 3 Series coupe. To our eyes, it wears its muscles well, hiding them rather than displaying them brazenly. It is the opposite of the in-your-face aggressiveness of the recently-debuted Lexus IS-F, a car it will surely do battle with in comparison test after comparison test.
What BMW Says
BMW’s official information about the M3 Concept says: “For two decades, BMW M3 has embodied the athletic heart of the brand in its most fundamental and succinct form. Its dominating role in motor sports and the ultimate driving experience it affords the driver on the road are inseparably intertwined. The qualities on which this synthesis is founded have given the BMW M3 the exceptional status it enjoys the world over. At BMW M GmbH, engineers have persisted in continuing this success story with the presentation of the new BMW M3 Concept Car. The concept study … gives a first impression of what a future BMW M3 might look like.”
What We Think
We think very highly of the 335i coupe, which comes close to duplicating the previous generation M3’s performance. We think so highly of it that we sometimes wonder how much better an M3 version of that car could really be. After all, as good as the previous generation 330i coupe was, the M3 version was an order of magnitude better. Can this new M3 really duplicate that feat? Good lord we hope so.
Photos courtesy of BMW