The official market launch of the new G80 M3 and G82 M4 is slated for next March, but BMW has already initiated production of the M3 at Group Plant Munich. Formerly the production site of the outgoing F82 M4, the addition of the G80 M3 to the production schedule at Group Plant Munich means that it completes the 3 Series range being manufactured there, which includes the sedan and touring variants, along with their various drivetrain choices of gasoline, diesel, and plug-in hybrid, all of which are built on the same line. The stand-alone manufacturing process for the previous M4’s CFRP roof has been adapted for the new M3, while M4 production will be moving northeast to Group Plant Dingolfing.
According to Robert Engelhorn, director of BMW Group Plant Munich, “The integration of the M3 went absolutely smoothly.” As of this writing, it seems the only remaining variant which is yet to enter production is the M3 Touring, which is currently undergoing prototype testing. Although the M3 is built on the same manufacturing line as the conventional G20 3 Series sedan and G21 3 Series touring, the process involved with constructing it’s hood and side panels relies on a handcrafted approach and manual assembly. The same goes for the optional bucket seats in both models, but it all occurs in-house at Group Plant Munich.
The M3 and M4 will arrive next March in two trim levels, each with different power output from the S58 M inline-six. The conventional models are rated at 473 horsepower which peaks at 6,250 rpm, while torque of 406 pound-feet remains unchanged from the outgoing S55-powered M3 and M4, but with a different curve and a plateau from 2,750 rpm to 5,500. Competition models boast 503 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and uprated torque of 479 pound-feet from 2,750 to 5,500.
Despite bold and divisive front-end styling on both models, the M3 and M4 offer something few if any of their direct competitors will be able to, and that is a genuine six-speed manual transmission. You’ll only be able to get it in the lower-output models, but this makes sense given the increased torque and the optional availability of M xDrive for Competition cars, which begins after the official market launch, during the summer of 2021. Just like it was for the M5, M xDrive should be a game-changer for the new M3 and M4, yielding decreased acceleration times and greater all-around performance and usability. Of course, we’re still sore about being excluded from the upcoming M3 Touring market, as there is clear enthusiast demand for such a vehicle within the BMW lineup.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]