The best selling model in the BMW range has been the 3 Series for some time now, so it made perfect sense to introduce the high performance M3 as an offshoot from this successful model. Although whether it makes as much sense to stop producing the M3 remains to be seen.
All is not lost though, as the M4 will continue to fly the M flag. The M series of vehicles emanate from BMW M GmbH, a subsidiary of the German manufacturer, which was established as long ago as 1972. M series vehicles have received rave reviews over the years, with critics showing widespread appreciation of the added performance and refinement that the badge is an indicator of.
The original M3 was based on the E30 3 Series introduced in 1982. I remember getting a lift home from London in one, and being so impressed with the solid, boxy handling of this angular black, well proportioned car that I craved one for about a year afterwards.
Engine power was what made this car stand out, with the Sport Evolution version producing 235hp from 2.5 litre engine. Unsurprisingly, this model was included in Automobile Magazine’s list of 25 Greatest Cars of All Time.
But this was just the beginning; altogether we’ve been graced with 4 generations of the M3, from the original E30 through to the E36, E46 and on to the final E90/92/93 models which first appeared in 2007.
This 4th generation did in fact nearly become the M4, though BMW wisely succumbed to sentiment and common sense and decided to continue with the M3 name.
So what of the M4 coupe itself? BMW first tentatively revealed the M4 concept last August and trickled out further information over the following months. With a power rating of 431hp it makes the original E30 M3 seem almost sedate on paper. It’s an indication of how much engine technology has progressed since those days.
No longer graced by an organic sounding powerful V8, the M4 will carry a BMW 3.0 litre TwinPower Turbo capable of 0-62 in just over 4 seconds.
The M4 will also feature Active Sound, an amplification of the engine sound that is fed into the cabin via the speaker system. It’s not a new thing for the M series of course, and the controversy of using such a thing amongst purists will probably go on for a long time yet.
Personally, I like to hear the sound of the engine, it connects you with the car that you’re driving – in fact, my worst driving experience yet came at the hands of a Nissan QX, a large executive vehicle that to me was akin to gliding along the road in a space ship; barely any sound at all from outside or under the bonnet. A great idea on paper but it didn’t do anything for me. So sound to a point is good, but if Active Sound is the answer or just a gimmick remains to be seen – as one critic said, if you want to hear the engine just roll your window down a bit.
Aside from this, the M4 looks like it will seamlessly progress the M series forward with hardly a glitch. We can all eagerly look forward to the M4 being available from around June 2014.
M4 images – carmagazine.co.uk