The new BMW M3 and M4 Competition will be available in rear wheel drive initially and all-wheel drive versions before year end. Picture: SUPPLIED
The new BMW M3 and M4 Competition will be available in rear wheel drive initially and all-wheel drive versions before year end.  Picture: SUPPLIED

BMW’s new M3 Competition and the M4 Competition coupé have touched down in SA in classic rear wheel drive format.

Both cars are powered by a twin-turbo six-cylinder in-line 3.0l engine that generates 375kW and 650Nm (up from 331kW and 550Nm for the previous generation cars), paired with a torque converter eight-speed automatic transmission instead of the former twin-clutch M-DCT. BMW says the two cars will also become available with the option of M xDrive all wheel drive later this year.

The caboodle of performance-enhancing tech includes an active M differential, adaptive M suspension, variable steering ratios, and compound brakes with two settings for pedal feel and response. Carbon ceramic brakes are an optional extra.

The M mode now incorporates Road, Sport and Track settings and a new M Drive Professional when specified. This optional new setting, found in the standard-fitment BMW Live Cockpit Professional with its full digital displays, allows for an M Drift analyser that scores your sideways driving skills, a lap timer and new M Traction Control that’s adjustable in 10 stages.

The new M3 and M4 also benefit from roomier interiors than their predecessors. As standard fitment both M cabins get splashed with carbon fibre décor and leather-clad sports seats with an illuminated model name. Carbon seats with racing harness preparedness that can be covered in a blue and yellow colour scheme are an R80,000 option.  

But nothing can prepare you for the enhancements in all areas found in these new mid-sized M cars. Performance is exceptional; enough for 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds for both models and 290km/h flat out.

Sports seats and a fully-digital dash come standard. Picture: SUPPLIED
Sports seats and a fully-digital dash come standard. Picture: SUPPLIED

The M4 Competition which I drove first at the Cape Town launch is captivating and addictive. Without the weight burden of extra doors and four-wheel drive, this coupé can pootle as well as bullet off dramatically. The engine spits venom and revs quickly, with max power produced at 6,250rpm.

But the benefits of more compliance fitted to both front and rear suspension are obvious. Gone is the roguishly fun but discomforting frenzy concocted by the previous model’s rear drive.

The engineers have created a car with a deeper, more communicative and amicable connection to the roads, and you feel it in how it corners with phenomenal poise.

High points to take from the new pair is how the cabins also remain hushed while all manner of riots are caused by rubber assaulting tarmac.

You’ll be lucky to average the 10.2l/100km claimed by BMW for the M3 sedan. It’s just 5kg heavier than the coupé and accelerates so hard that you sooner run out of indicated speed before you run out of road.

But I have to touch on the controversial grilles. BMW design boss Domagoj Dukec said that the M version reflects a more suitable high-performance pose, and he was correct. Those large vertical air intakes summon images of the large breathing apparatus of military fighter jets with elaborate tunnel detail on the lightweight bonnets.

There are also wider wheel arches that accommodate mixed size 19-inch front/20-inch forged M light-alloy wheels shod with grippy Michelin Sport 4 rubber.

The new BMW M3 and M4 Competition feel better tuned as daily drivers while upping the thunderous performance envelope to new segment heights.

An M Race Track Package available for the first time reduces vehicle weight by around 25kg thanks to features including M Carbon ceramic brakes, special M light-alloy wheels and M Carbon bucket seats.

Prices are R1,860,000 for the BMW M3 Competition sedan and R1,940,000 for the M4 Competition coupe. 

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