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In BMW’s quest to continue producing the “ultimate driving machines,” the brand became closely intertwined with motorsports. Like most auto manufacturers participating in motorsports, racing is used as a testbed for tech that they will eventually pass down to their road cars.

Naturally, being successful in racing is also great for marketing efforts. As the old motorsport saying goes: “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” So, it is in BMW’s best interest to keep innovating in motorsports and to do their best to win. That is why when they produce a new race car; it is a big deal.

Enter the BMW M4 GT3 race car

The new BMW M4 GT3 race car.
BMW M4 GT3 race car | BMW Motorsport

A brand new M4 GT3 race car has arrived to replace the BMW M6 GT3 race car that BMW has campaigned since 2015. BMW began development on the M4 GT3 race car in 2019, starting with CFD computer simulations. In July 2020, the complete race car left the factory for the first time. 

In February 2020, the BMW M4 GT3’s engine was put on the test bench. From there, small steps turned to large strides before the final product was finally ready for its worldwide debut. Like the M6 GT3 that came before it, the M4 GT3 race car will be part of a customer program for race teams. The M4 GT3 race car will command a price of €415,000 (or $488,365). While that is a sizable number, the price is €4,000 ($4,707) cheaper than the M6 GT3. A free day in BMW’s in-house simulator is included in the price.

What engine does the BMW M4 GT3 have?

A close up view of the BMW M4 GT3's front end.
BMW M4 GT3 front end close up | BMW Motorsport

The engine is one of the most important parts of any race car. Enzo Ferrari once said, “aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines.” While that quote is objectively wrong, it does a great job illustrating that what’s under the hood is just as important as what is outside of it. In the case of the BMW M4 GT3, under the hood is the new P58 engine. The P58 is a twin-turbo, 3.0 liter, inline-6 that makes “up to” 590 hp and 516 ft-lbs of torque. 

The outgoing M6 GT3 is equipped with a larger 4.4 liter, twin-turbo V8 engine. BMW did not confirm this, but the laws of physics tell us that with the P58 being smaller in size, it likely weighs less than the M6 GT3’s V8. That should allow teams running the M4 GT4 more room to balance weight distribution.

A steering wheel that bridges the gap between real and virtual

The interior of the BMW M4 GT3 race car.
The BMW M4 GT3 cockpit | BMW Motorsport

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Inside the M4 GT3 are all of the tech and components that one would expect from a race car of this level. There is a bespoke roll cage, top-of-the-line carbon fiber seats, various buttons, switches, and gauges. However, the most interesting part is what is right in front of the driver’s seat.

The steering wheel is the result of a partnership between BMW motorsport and sim racing peripheral manufacturer, Fanatec. Fanatec designed a special wheel that can be used in the M4 GT3 race car but can directly plug into a compatible Fanatec simulator wheelbase for racing games and high-end racing simulator programs. Perhaps not the most practical feature, but very cool nonetheless. We will soon find out if the new engine and technology will help BMW when the M4 GT3 officially takes over in 2022.