BMW M3 & M4 COMPETITION: radical new look, more power, de-selectable AWD and here in 2021

Following the few images that leaked onto the net yesterday, BMW M last night revealed full details on the much anticipated all-new M3 saloon and M4 coupé. Boasting a controversial and somewhat radical new nose and a heavily reworked mechanical package, the newcomers will arrive in SA in the first half of 2021.

Only the 375 kW Competition versions of the new four-model range will come to South Africa. Other markets will also get the 353kW M3 Sedan and M4 Coupé. The range will later grow to include the first ever M3 Touring estate, as well as M4 Cabriolet and the M4 Gran Coupé four-door. Even more powerful track-focused CS derivatives will follow later.


The newly developed S58 3-litre biturbo straight six remains longitudinally mounted. Weighing in at 1730kg, the M3 Competition delivers a 223kW per tonne power-weight ratio, the 5kg-lighter M4 Competition 224kW per tonne. Output is 48kW and 78Nm up on the outgoing S55 lump. The Competition cars also improve by 35kW over the 2018 M3 and M4 CS.

Shared with the X3 M and X4 SUV siblings, the new engine picks up on the previous Valvetronic and Double Vanos variable camshaft timed S55. Swept volume has been increased by 14cc to 2993cc thanks to a longer 90mm stroke. Add reworked turbochargers, revised 350 bar fuel-injection a petrol particulate filter to improve emissions, among other novelties.


Peak torque remains 550Nm, but it is developed 800rpm further up the rev range from 2650rpm to 6130rpm. Competition torque is up 98Nm to 635Nm between 2750rpm and 5500rpm. The 7200rpm redline is slightly down on the old unit.

BMW claims 0.2 second and 0.1 second improvements to 4.2 second 0-100km/h times for the regular cars. Competition models get to 100 in 3.9 seconds to match the old M3 CS and M4 CS. Top speed is limited to 250km/h. You can up that to 290km/h by ticking the driver’s package box that also adds Z-rated tyres.

Overseas standard models continue with a six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive and an electronically controlled Active M differential. Competition models meanwhile ditch the old seven-speed dual-clutch for a new BMW M’s Drivelogic programmed eight-speed torque converter slushbox automatic.


Competition models also get BMW’s fully variable M xDrive all-wheel drive for the first time. As in big brother M5, the new AWD has three 4WD, 4WD Sport and, with the Dynamic Stability Control system deactivated, a 2WD driving modes. 2WD disengages the front differential for pure rear wheel drive on demand.

Both cars get aluminium-rich adaptive damping control double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension. It is tuned with aggressive geometry, unique suspension kinematics and individual spring and damper rates for sharper, tauter handling. Substantial engine bay and front suspension bracing, and a subframe bolted directly to the rear body, boost the overall body rigidity.

34mm and 38mm wider front and rear tracks substantially increase both new cars’ footprints. Both also get M Servotronic variable ratio steering. M-specific BMW Integrated Braking now offers two different brake response and pedal feel setting. M3 and M4 run on 18-inch front and 19-inch rear forged alloy wheels and get 275/40 and 285/35-profile tyres respectively.


Like its 3-Series siblings the M3 grows 108mm longer than its predecessor to 4794mm. It’s also 26mm wider at 1903mm and 8mm taller at 1433mm. The M4 is 108mm longer, 18mm wider at 1887mm and 1mm taller at 1393mm. Both sit on a 45mm stretched 2857mm wheelbase.

Perhaps the most discussed feature of the new M3 and M4 is their nose. It feature the new front end styling dominated by a monster BMW kidney grille that debuted on the new 4-Series some months back. It has now evolved to comprise two distinct elements in M format, rather than a single-frame design.

That’s complimented by a more aggressive front bumper, super-bright full-LED laser headlights, a more muscular bonnet, wider front wings and sills with new vents. And double-mounted wing mirrors. M3 and M4 also get an airflow optimised carbon fibre-reinforced plastic roof, a boot-mounted spoiler tab and a reworked rear bumper above a multi-channel diffuser and the default BMW M quad tailpipes.

New colours include the new São Paulo Yellow and Isle of Man Green metallic launch finishes, plus a Toronto Red metallic. There is also an optional M Carbon exterior package and model-specific M Performance Parts are available.


Stepping inside, the new M3 and M4 get newly developed M Sport seats with and optional ventilation function. The M Sport steering wheel features two M buttons to deploy two driver-preset driving modes at a prod. M-specific design digital instruments benefit unique trim elements

BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional infotainment supports cloud-based sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s tri-zone climate control and LED ambient interior lighting too.

New driver assistants include latest generation BMW head-up display with M-specific graphics. An optional M Drive Professional system. It has a new 10 step M Traction Dynamic Stability Control and a Drift Analyser to record and rate the driver alongside the usual lap timer functions. It uses driver assistance cameras systems to record video footage from different points around the car.

Expect the new BMW M3 and M4 Competition in South Africa first half 2021.

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