The M3 has taken a bit of a beating in reviews, as has the base BMW 3 Series. And it’s not just the updated Kia Stinger and Genesis G70 gunning for the 3 Series anymore. The 2021 Acura TLX Type S is ready to square-off with the M3 and the M4 coupe. However, the wraps are finally off the 2021 BMW M3 and M4. And it’s clear the German automaker isn’t out of the fight yet.
What do the 2021 BMW M3 and M4 offer in the way of performance?
The BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe get new looks for 2021, which The Drive may be polarizing for some. But it’s likely driving enthusiasts will be more interested in what’s under the skin.
The 2021 BMW M3 and M4 are based on the 2021 3 Series, which also underpins the coupe-only 4 Series. However, the M3 and M4 have significantly stiffer bodies and chassis, Car and Driver reports, different power steering systems, and standard electronically-controlled limited-slip differentials. They also ride on wider and larger performance tires, and feature upgraded brakes and suspension components, Autoweek reports. Plus, they have functional rear diffusers and optional carbon-ceramic brakes. And if you’re OK without a sunroof, Autoblog reports, both cars come standard with a carbon-fiber roof.
The adaptive electronically-controlled suspension is standard, and both the brake-pedal feel and stability control are adjustable, Road & Track reports. The base cars already feature multiple driving modes, Roadshow reports, but the optional M Drive Professional Package adds a Track Mode and adjustable traction control. It also adds a lap timer and a ‘Drift Analyzer’ to aide you on your quest to imitate Ken Block.
The 2021 BMW M3 and M4 already come with sportier seats than the standard models. But the automaker also offers optional carbon-fiber sport seats that save 21 pounds, R&T reports. And if you want, you can fit them with racing harnesses.
Under the hood, the 2021 BMW M3 and M4 have the same 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged six-cylinder found in the X3 and X4 M, Motor Trend reports. In base form, it makes 473 hp and 406 lb-ft. The crossovers have the same horsepower, but more torque. But there’s a good reason for that.
The 2021 M3 and M4 come standard with a 6-speed manual, which can’t handle the X3 M’s and X4 M’s torque. But it’s still enough to let the RWD BMW M3 and M4 go 0-60 in a claimed 4.1 seconds. And the manual has both a short-throw shifter and automatic rev-matching, MT reports.
That engine is why the 2021 M3 shares the M4’s and 4 Series’ larger grille: it needs the increased airflow for cooling purposes. It’s also why the BMW M3 and M4 have a dedicated oil cooler and upgraded radiators.
Meanwhile, the 2021 BMW M3 and M4 Competition models get an additional cooler for the transmission fluid. That’s because they come exclusively with an 8-speed automatic. The automatic is necessary because the Competition models are boosted to 503 hp and 479 lb-ft. RWD is standard, but BMW will later introduce AWD variants of the M3 and M4 Competition. But even without AWD, the M3 and M4 Competition go 0-60 in a claimed 3.8 seconds.
BMW is offering additional performance parts for the 2021 M3 and M4
The BMW M3’s and M4’s greatest strength has always been balancing sportiness with daily-drivability. However, for those who want their Bavarian sports sedan or coupe to look like a race car, BMW has performance parts available, The Drive reports.
Admittedly, some of these parts, like the vinyl striping, are purely cosmetic. But the parts catalog also includes a titanium performance exhaust system, adjustable coilovers, and track-compound brake pads, R&T reports. And there are plenty of carbon-fiber components to choose from, including splitters, diffusers, and a rear spoiler.
Pricing and availability
The base and RWD Competition 2021 BMW M3 and M4 will be available in March 2021. The AWD Competition models will be available in summer 2021.
As of this writing, pricing for the AWD models hasn’t been released. But the base M3 and M4 start at $69.9k and $71.8k, respectively. In RWD trim, the Competition models start at $72.8k and $74.7k, respectively.
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