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For 35 years, the M3 badge has been synonymous with high-performance BMWs. It’s been known as the benchmark for sport saloons. There have been many challengers and the Bavarian bahnstormer has always ranked high up on the list.
The Munich-based manufacturer has finally released the hotly-anticipated G80 M3 – and its two-door sibling, the M4 – in South Africa. Both are powered by the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six first seen in the X3 M.
BMW SA has elected to only offer the higher-powered Competition models locally, meaning all M3/M4 models are packing a muscular 375 kW and 650 Nm of torque, allowing for a 0-100 km/h blast in a blistering 3.9 seconds. The power is sent to the rear wheels via a slick eight‑speed M Steptronic transmission, provided by ZF, with Drivelogic and various shift programmes.
M xDrive all-wheel drive derivatives will be introduced later in the year.
As standard, both models are fitted with Adaptive M suspension, along with electronically controlled shock absorbers and M Servotronic steering with variable ratio. M Compound brakes are standard, although M Carbon ceramic brakes can be optioned.
Aesthetically, both models have come under fire for the controversial radiator grille which dominates the front end. However, there’s no denying that the divisive styling treatment does give the M twins an aggressive, racier look.
The massively oversized kidney grilles do have a purpose, though. BMW says the large air intakes allow for ‘optimum inflow and supply of cooling air’ to the straight-six that sits up front. Flared wheel arches and a rear diffuser further distinguish the M3/M4 from lesser models.
Inside, you’ll be greeted by a typical BMW cabin. Newly developed sport seats (trimmed in the finest Merino leather, of course) are standard, with seat ventilation as an optional extra. But if you prefer a more hardcore approach, BMW will sell you the optional M Carbon bucket seats.
A raft of standard features litter the cabin, including park distance control, front collision warning and a lane departure warning system.
M-specific controls will allow the driver direct access to pertinent settings, for the chassis, steering, engine and even brakes. Various driving modes can be selected, depending on the driver’s mood. Road and Sport settings are standard, while a special Track mode can be selected if the M Drive Professional option has been selected.
What is M Drive Professional, you ask? Well, it makes its debut on the new M3 and M4 and includes a host of extra functions – including an M Drift Analyser, Lamptimer and M Traction Control – for what BMW describes as ‘a particularly intense performance experience on the race track’.
A special Race Track Package is also available, reducing vehicle weight by approximately 25 kg. This is done by fitting lighter alloy wheels, M Carbon bucket seats and carbon ceramic brakes.
The M3 Competition retails for R1,860,000 while the M4 Coupé will set you back R1,940,000.
The outgoing Mercedes-AMG C63S remains the M3 and M4’s biggest rival, and packs a sonorous 4,0-litre V8. Mercedes has said that the new model will be powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder, though. Audi’s RS4 and RS5 twins also battle the BMW’s for dominance. If German isn’t your thing, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Q offers an Italian outlook on performance. Locally, the BMW M offerings are likely to continue their domination of the segment, though.
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