By on March 27, 2008

oldm3.jpgI've been kvetching about the overcylinderization of BMWs M cars for a while now. The first M3 had an inline four. The next two gens holstered straight sixes. And now the M3 has a high-revving V8. BMW's mighty M5 went from two generations of straight sixes to a V8 to a high-revving V10. All this horsepower excuses BMW from having to lighten its cars and focus on improving dynamics. It seems that BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer is thinking along the same lines. Speaking to the German magazine Auto Motor Und Sport, Reithofer said he wants to trim down to fewer cylinder engines in the M cars and the rest of the BMW range. In particular, he said that BMW's diesel V8 (which is rather popular over in Europe) would be replaced with a twin turbocharged I6. And he indicated that the M range would also probably be downsized as well. Turbocharging, not displacement and cylinders, would be the path to improvements in M cars' horsepower and weight distribution. (Not to mention CO2 emissions.) Hey, if it works for the Nissan GT-R…

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26 Comments on “The Next M3 Back Down to Six Cylinders?...”


  • avatar
    Pch101

    Sounds like the 335i nameplate and concept will be going away, as the twin-turbo six-cylinder concept becomes the distinguishing feature of the M-series. I wonder if the next generation of buyers will feel cheated buying an M3 if they know that it is effectively the evolution of a lower-level model.

    It makes sense, though. Smaller turbos should get slightly better fuel economy, at least in the fuel economy test cycles, which means lower C02 output, which means compliance with EU regs and lower taxes for buyers. Where the laws are headed, they probably have no choice but to do this.

  • avatar
    relton

    Gee, I thought the lack of a V8 in a non-M 3 series was BMW’s only flaw. I still bought the car (335i coupe), but I would have rather had a V8.
    BMW says the V8 is lighter than the 6, which would only improve dynamics.

    Besides, as my wife (who has a Mustang GT) reminds me, “They don’t name vegetable juices after inline engines”.

    Bob

  • avatar

    @Bob- sorry to be a bit harsh here, but BMW’s heritage is pretty damn far from a Mustang. There are those of us who think the 1-series isn’t even close to the car it should have been.

  • avatar
    i6

    The only car worthy of the M badge is the one in the picture IMO. All the others are boulevardiers masquerading as performance cars masquerading as race cars. No M series should be available with leather seating, for example. Or inline sixes. Sure they are smooth running but they are heavy. Great for trucks or luxury cars, but not ideal for anything with sporting pretensions.

    It appears to me that since BMW can squeeze a lot larger margin out of luxed-out M series, they do. Nothing more to it.

  • avatar
    mxfive4

    I agree with the sentiments – for BMW to keep making more powerful and heavier M cars is a joke.

    They might has well kill the manual options and change their name to aMg.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Oh how I love that 1st gen M3. I was lucky enough to beat the snot out of one of those cars when they first came out at a Skip Barber Racing day at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit (which has sadly now been converted into a golf course).

    Every once in a while I still look around for a well preserved example of one of these cars because it was just the perfect embodiment of raw 4-cylinder performance.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    BMW has become the poseur’s car of choice.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    BMW’s diesel V8 is popular? It’s only available in the 7-series, not even in the X5… and most 7ers in Europe are 730d.

  • avatar
    ash78

    relton

    But they do name Interstate Highways after inline engines! :D

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Are you guys messing with us? BMW is going to make their cars lighter? Specifically the M3??? The pic of the E30 M3 is a dead giveaway to your ruse. Don’t tease me this way!

  • avatar

    Great to hear that BMW is going to get back to creating cars for drivers rather than poseurs.
    The original M3 was so much better than anything since.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    I’m no (recent) BMW fan, but many of you aren’t giving the new M3 enough credit. It’s hugely impressive. And we’re not here to judge the drivers, who only speak Powerpoint, but the car itself. It’s faster than any previous M3, dynamically superior to any of its competitors. Why are we complaining? How many 400+HP cars can you get these days with a manual for less than $80k? Other than the Corvette, GT500, and RS4 I can’t think of any.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    Does anyone else think the 335i is a bit…sandbagged? I mean, Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac all get 300 hp out of their V-6s without twin turbos. Sure, they’re about .5L bigger, but if they had direct injection, the BMW engines would get more than 230 hp.

    It’s faster than any previous M3, dynamically superior to any of its competitors. Why are we complaining?

    The same ol’ “It’s not what I think it should be, so they must be doing it wrong” twaddle.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    I don’t see BMW using turbo engines in the M cars. Since the beginning, M cars have always been strictly N/A. The head of the M division has also said he wants to keep the engines in M cars strictly N/A.

  • avatar
    wludavid

    Carshark:

    The 328i and the 335i are probably a little sandbagged. Aftar all, that 3.0L N54 we had before the turbo-I6 came out made 255hp. The 328i is just running a detuned version of that. I’m sure the 335i could be tuned to make A LOT more than 300hp. Rumor has it 300hp is a low estimate anyway. But I’m not sure how much more you can get out of a boosted engine without ruining the smooth torque curve. No one wants to be throttle steering around a corner when the turbos spin up. Hello throttle-induced oversteer!

  • avatar
    carguy

    Herr Reithofer has discovered that driving enthusiasts prefer lighter cars? Really?

    Given some more thought he may even conclude that iDrive, run-flats, SMG, active and electric steering as well as a whole host of other BMWs useless electric gizmos suck.

    A turbo charged M? It’s not traditional but as long as there is no lag and the engine still revs to 8K I really don’t care.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @Carshark:

    It’s not that the 335i is sandbagged. There are three things to consider:

    1. The 300 hp, 300 lb ft of torque that BMW quotes is a lie. The reality is probably closer to 330 horsepower at the crank, possibly more.

    2. When the 335i went on sale, the M3 was still the naturally aspirated 333 hp model. They wanted to protect the M’s sales and residual values.

    3. You can’t just look at peak hp numbers from other manufacturers. BMW’s torque and horsepower curves are FLAT from 1500 rpm on upward.

    The competition’s 6 cylinder engines just don’t compare when you lay chart over chart. Consider the Infiniti G37. Check out the first graph posted, which shows the G37′s dyno results:
    http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/0705_2008_infiniti_g37_dyno_charts/index.html

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    This is great news. The 8 cylinder may have been a nice car, but to me it’s not an M3. The problem with the 3 series is that it has been getting larger and larger (which is natural, but not desirable).

    I hope the trend is back towards handling and lightness, and away from ever more HP and luxury.

  • avatar
    mxfive4

    I’m no (recent) BMW fan, but many of you aren’t giving the new M3 enough credit. It’s hugely impressive. And we’re not here to judge the drivers, who only speak Powerpoint, but the car itself. It’s faster than any previous M3, dynamically superior to any of its competitors. Why are we complaining? How many 400+HP cars can you get these days with a manual for less than $80k? Other than the Corvette, GT500, and RS4 I can’t think of any.- sean362880

    I don’t think any of us think that the new M3 is the Mustang II.

    Rather it is a marked departure from the previous cars.

    The new car is heavy – no it is really heavy. 3650lbs. To give that number perspective the Corvette Z06 weighs 3132lbs.

    Colin Chapman supposedly said, “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.”

    I think anyone who has driven a Lotus or a Miata can tell you the joy of “adding lightness”.

  • avatar
    huy

    A 335i with an exhaust and ECU reflash is faster than a V8 powered M3. The potential is there and BMW will surely do a better job at tuning the car for those levels than some aftermarket tuner with no prior BMW experience. I doubt we’ll see lighter cars because they are still dealing with the base cars… which are heavier and larger than ever.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    The new car is heavy – no it is really heavy. 3650lbs. To give that number perspective the Corvette Z06 weighs 3132lbs.
    -mxfive4

    I’m all for lightness, but the old M3 wasn’t light. It weighed 3400 lbs with only 330 HP. The new one is 3600 lbs with 420 HP.

    I don’t think it’s a departure. I’d rather have the new one.

  • avatar
    mxfive4

    Sean, I was thinking more along the lines of the E30(2700lbs) and even to some degree the e36 (3200lbs).

    I think the e46 was 3400lbs.

    Regardless – the car is not light by most people’s measure and I think the hallmark of great sports cars are that they are light.

    If you are looking for a GT or a highway cruiser the weight might not be an issue – and it may even add some comfort – but get the car in transition and weight is a negative – there is no amount of horsepower or gadgetry that can compensate for that.

  • avatar
    Adonis

    That would be beautiful, if this was the case. Maybe other manufacturers would follow suit. Then the US market would have more light cars that handle well. The only manufacturer that seems to be making their cars lighter with new models is mazda (correct me if I’m wrong).

  • avatar
    JJ

    I think the new M3 is a great car, but it has some flaws, like the high seating position and the relatively softish dampers/chassis setup, that the previous generation didn’t have.

    The previous gen E46 was great in every way, no flaws to that car at all. In terms of M-ness the CSL version is a worthy adversary to the first gen M3.

    The problem they had with the new one is that they were forced to give it a V8, since they couldn’t make the car better otherwise and since Audi and Mercedes were offering more power, no matter how well and purposefull a car might be engineered, many people are going to look at the numbers and think it’s inferior. Bolting on a turbo definitely wasn’t an option for M because it is too easy and compromises the engine character (although, the Toyota turbo-4 in the Elise seems to prove that turbo-engines can still have a high-rpm redline and peak power output).

    As for the the 335; the European rating is 306 HP, with the maximum output of the same engine without turbos is currently at 272 HP. Apart from whether or not these are correct numbers it’s obvious that they could get a lot more out of it with the turbos, but that wasn’t the point.

    In spite of the notions from the German carmakers that the HP-war is at its end though, I believe that Reithofer (who isn’t a car guy) was mainly aiming at the V8 diesels, that are btw really not that popular in Europe because performance gains usually aren’t that great in practise, but fuel consumption is much worse, and the approximately 4 models in which they are offered usually are much more expensive to buy in the first place compared to their 6 cilinder siblings, so how big this news really is seems unclear at this point.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    I think anyone who has driven a Lotus or a Miata can tell you the joy of “adding lightness”.

    Easy for him to say. He didn’t have to worry about safety regs like BMW has to now. I remember when the new Miata came out, the message boards were full of people upset about the weight gain of, like, 30 pounds. I understand that you can’t repeal the laws of physics, but a little compromise from the “enthusiasts” would lead to a better overall car, IMO. First things first: sort out the ride.

  • avatar
    James2

    What’s “EcoBoost” in German?


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