Many recent BMW headlines read like an Apple store catalog: i this and i that. OK, we get it. BMW builds a couple of plastic cars with
electric motors—great. What about your loyal Bimmer enthusiasts? You know, the folks who have loved the brand since the first 2002? Munich thinks the M3
sedan and M4 coupe answer these concerns; after an extended drive, we tend to agree. Here are five reasons why:
1. BMW went over budget on steering
Electric-assisted power steering is here to stay—think of hydraulic-assisted units like whale-oil lamps. But don't let that dismay you. To improve steering feel, BMW significantly
increased suspension bushing durometer (Durometer is a measure of hardness determined by a device that presses on the material with a standard amount of force. —Ed.) over the standard 3, stiffened the front end
with an elaborate carbon-fiber strut-tower brace that attaches directly to the
A-pillar, and even worked with Michelin to alter the shape of the front-tire patch.
2. The F8x chassis is incredibly stiff and lighter than the E9x
BMW claims the M3's torsional stiffness is over 40,000 Newton-meters per degree, approaching that of the 2004 BMW M3 GTR race car, which used a steel-tube
roll cage to reach 46,000 Nm/deg. The stiffness comes in part from the same strut-tower brace that also helps steering feel and response. Additionally, BMW
mounts the rear subframe directly to the body, with no rubber bushings. The M4 we drove is exactly 50 lbs lighter than the 2013 BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition we drove last November.
3. Don't replace your Michelin Super Sports with cheap tires
Michelin played with the architecture and the compound of the Pilot Super Sport tires to fit the M car's needs. That's typical among manufactures. What
isn't so typical is that the M3 wears different front and rear tires—both tread pattern and -patch shape are different. When viewed in section, the
front tire meets the road as an oval, which allows for more progressive tire slip while turning. The rear tires create a rectangular patch, allowing better bite into
4. Not twin-scroll, twin-turbo
To maximize throttle response, BMW doubled the N55's turbocharger count and made each one smaller for faster spooling. The S55 uses electronic wastegate
control along with Valvetronic better control airflow into each cylinder. In very low-lift conditions, only one of the two intake valves open, helping to
induce swirl for more complete combustion. This also helps prevent what BMW calls "pulse shockwaves," which are resonant forces that resist smooth airflow
into the cylinder. What your foot feels is faster throttle response, which we imagine
your foot likes.
5. The weakness of this car is NVH
The aforementioned non-rubber-isolated rear subframe, the all-around stiffer structure, and less sound insulation all conspire to make this car noticeably louder
than other 3 and 4 Series models. Your ears will definitely ask for a break from the droning during longer interstate stints. Is this a problem? Uh, no, it's a
good thing. It shows that BMW actually made compromises in comfort to benefit performance.
BMW has made a brilliant, serious sports car. With the optional carbon-ceramic brakes and seven individual powertrain coolers, the M3 and M4 easily manage track duty. So don't blame the i for causing BMW to lose its way. Thank it for allowing BMW to genuinely put the Motorsport back in M. Now, if they can make an M car in a slightly smaller