Originally, the BMW M3 (E30/2S, E30/2SC) was intended to be the road version of a racing vehicle. However, interest was so overwhelming that many more than the 5,000 vehicles needed for Group A approval were sold. Extreme dynamics are immediately evident on the exterior; from the wide fenders and iconic rear wings to the newly designed C-pillar. The interior also features everything that has proven its worth in racing: internally ventilated brake discs, sports transmission with lower left first gear, the 2.3 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine with 200 hp (143 kW).
While the racing version goes from win to win, the BMW M3 exceeds all sales expectations: More than 18,000 vehicles, including the convertible version, were sold. As well as the revised 220 hp (154 kW) Evolution version and the BMW M3 Sport Evolution with 2.5 litre displacement and 238 hp (166 kW).
1992 sees the second generation of the BMW M3 (E36) continuing the success story. The vehicle is clearly more grown-up. There are only minor visual changes compared to the regular model, such as the aerodynamically optimized M exterior mirrors. But there are radical changes under the hood: The inline 6-cylinder petrol engine with 286 hp (210 kW) and variable overhead camshafts (VANOS system) delivers breathtaking acceleration. From 1995 the model was updated to give not just 200 cm3 more displacement, but also 321 hp (236 kW).
At the turn of the millennium, the third version of the BMW M3 (E46) was launched, followed by the BMW M3 Convertible one year later. They continue the fundamental concept behind the BMW M3, combining as little weight as possible with as much driving dynamics as possible. The M genes are evident in the 343 hp (252 kW) driving experience. The exteriors of the Coupé and Convertible differ from the standard model with their wider camber, the grilles on the front fenders and the powerdome on the bonnet.
The BMW M3s built between 2007 and 2013 were fitted with a number of new features. Just like the regular models, three bodies were available: Saloon (E90), Coupé (E92), and Convertible (E93). For the first time, a BMW M3 had a V8 engine. The 4-litre assembly delivers 420 hp (309 kW) and turns up to 8,300 rpm – the highest-speed production engine ever built by BMW. With the optional M Driver’s Package, the car reaches a maximum speed of 173 mph.
From 2014, the fifth generation of the BMW M3 (F80) once again relies on an inline 6-cylinder petrol engine which, for the first time in an BMW M3, is fitted with turbochargers. The engine delivers its maximum torque at 1,850 rpm, making fast acceleration possible, whatever the circumstances. The 432 hp (317 kW) BMW M3 Saloon is the only body design available – the related Coupé and Convertible are now called BMW M4. The fender extensions, the M exterior mirrors, and the dark M carbon roof also show to the outside world that this vehicle has exceptional handling and driving dynamics. 2016 sees the introduction of the BMW M3 Competition, featuring an engine that delivers 450 hp (331 kW) and uses the adaptive M chassis as standard.
In 2018, the BMW M3 CS is manufactured for just three months, adding an additional 10 hp to bring it to 460 hp (338 kW).
The BMW M3 (G80) has been available since 2021 with a radically different appearance from the standard saloon due to its large, high-standing kidney. It continues the concept of combining sportiness, dynamism, and everyday practicality of the previous BMW M3 - the BMW M3 Competition offers 510 hp (375 kW) and the 8-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic enables rapid gear changes for maximum driving dynamics, combined with the precisely-tuned M chassis.
Production period BMW M3: 1986 – today
Engines: 2.3 – 3.0 litres (143 – 375 kW, 200 – 510 hp), 4-, 6- & 8-cylinder
Length/width/height: 4,346 – 4,794 mm / 1,680 – 1,887 mm / 1,370 – 1,431 mm