BMW M3 Coupe
Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
The 2003 BMW M3 CSL was a special series, built on the basis of those three letters, which meant “Coupe, Sports, Lightweight”.
It was an homage to the glorious 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL.
The “Coupe Sport Leichtbau” (Coupe, Sports, Lightweight) were the basic characteristics of the CSL models. The engineers took the standard vehicle and removed whatever they could to make the car lighter. After that, they replaced the body panels with lighter ones. The M3 CSL was produced only one year in a total number of 1383 units.
From the outside, only a car enthusiast would tell the difference, but a bigger bumper in the front and a duck-type rear spoiler on the trunk lid were noticeable. A special set of wheels was offered especially for the CSL model. Some small “CSL” badges were installed on the front fenders on the exhaust grilles and one in the back. On the lower part of the front apron, there were some carbon-fiber elements.
Inside, the heavier front seats of the standard M3 were replaced with slimmer and lighter ones. They were mostly race-bucket seats with different upholstery. The rear bench was slimmer as well and featured a simple mechanism to take them out. Just in case the driver needs to go racing.
Under the hood there was an enhanced version of the 3.2-liter straight-six engine from the regular M3, but with more power. A standard SMG II (automated, single-clutch, gearbox) was fitted as standard. Also standard was the limited-slip differential. Due to all weight reductions it had, the car was lighter by 110 kg (243 lbs) than the standard M3 coupe.
The facelift for the last naturally aspirated V8 BMW M3 was introduced in 2010 and it had to pay the price for the eco-trend but in an M3 way.
It was more eco-friendly, but powerful as before.
In 2010 the world economic crisis was over and the money started to go again toward sport coupe vehicles. The M3 Coupe, as one of the best choices in the premium segment, had to come with something more than before. And it brought a mild refreshed look and few special versions.
For the front side, the car featured a black kidney-grille unlike the chromed one from the non-facelifted version. On the lower side of the front bumper, there was a carbon-fiber lip extension available. On the side, there was a new option for the light-alloy wheels design.
Inside, there were some subtle modifications to the already very appreciated design. On the instrument cluster, 8 LEDs shift-light were installed on top of the tachometer case. The control panel for the climate unit received the buttons for the heated seats, which were placed lower on the non-facelifted version.
To lower the CO2 emissions, the 2010 M3 was fitted with a start-stop system, which worked on both manual and automatic transmission. The Competition Package was introduced and it offered adjustable dampers settings, for those who were trying their cars on a race-track.
The last naturally aspirated BMW M3 was launched in 2007 and it was fitted with a larger V8 engine that was, surprisingly, lighter than the former six-pot that replaced it.
And that was better for sound, power, and handling.
The bump in the hood, the vents on the fenders, and the lowered suspension will tell the difference between the M3 and the rest of the E92 BMW models. It was built for a purpose, to play the role of a grand-tourer, a sports car, and a race-track weapon.
The E92 M3 was launched in 2007 with a six-speed manual and an 8-cylinder engine. It was received with mixed feelings by the purists who were still crying for the original, 1986, E30 M3. But since then, the engine was doubled in terms of displacement and number of cylinders. When compared to the E46 M3, the last with a naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine, the E92 was a heavier car. But that wasn’t a real problem since it had a higher torque on the lower revs.
Inside, the car was designed to offer enough comfort and pleasure of driving. The sport-bucket seats, with leather upholstery, looked stylish and premium. A classic BMW instrument cluster was paired with an infotainment display placed high on the dashboard and with the i-Drive controller on the center console. For the rear seats, there was some room for passengers.
It was the technical progress that helped the E92 M3 to run faster, being faster on cornering, and drift better. New suspension, a standard limited-slip differential, and a lot of electronics helped the car to achieve better performances than the model it replaced.
In 2010, BMW produced the ultimate M3 coupe fitted with the largest engine ever installed by the German carmaker in a 3-Series.
Some people knew the M3 GTS from the “Need for Speed” saga, where it was the trophy car was at the end of the “Most Wanted” game. In real life, the coupe was made by order only and built as a track-focused car. But BMW offered an option for the owners to get it modified and made it road-legal. The car also marked the 25th anniversary of the first BMW M3, the E30.
BMW built the M3 GTS based on the regular M3 bodywork. At the front, there was a new front bumper with a carbon-fiber splitter at the bottom. There were no fog lights available, and all three grilles from the apron were functional, cooling the engines and the brakes. The light hood sported a power-dome in the middle flanked by two vents behind it. On the sides, the aerodynamically profiled side-sills were unique for the GTS, while at the back, a big adjustable wing sat on top of the trunk lid. Under the rear bumper, BMW installed a splitter and four exhausts.
Inside, the cabin was stripped down to bare necessities. It featured thinner interior door linings and a lighter center console. The carmaker removed the climate control and the stereo from the center stack, but they were available as an option. BMW removed the rear seats and installed an FIA-approved roll-cage inside the cabin, stiffening the chassis even further.
But the most important part of the car was the powerplant and the drivetrain. The 4.4-liter V-8 engine was tuned by BMW’s motorsport division and sent its power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. For the suspension, the carmaker installed a fully adjustable coil-over kit. There was also a new brake system with vented and drilled discs in all corners to shorten the stopping distance.
The E46 M3 model from BMW was introduced in 2000 and featured two body styles: 2-door coupe or 2-door convertible.
The M3 Coupe benefited from BMW’s newly-developed 3.2L S54 engine - naturally aspired - delivering a massive 343 PS and 273 lb-ft of torque. This new-breed powerplants were mated with either an innovative SMG Drivelogic transmission, featuring steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (rally-like), or a new 6-speed gearbox. Due to stricter CO2 emission rules, this model came with a 5-hp lower engine output on the North American market. The E46 M3 Coupe was discontinued in 2006, making room for the 4th generation BMW M3 a year later.
The 1992 BMW M3 was the first M3 that featured a six-cylinder engine.
Unlike its legendary predecessor, the E30 M3, it was available as a coupe, sedan, and cabriolet.
The unexpected success of the E30 M3 made the BMW board consider launching a second generation of the M3. The other M model, the M5, was very well received on the market so there was no reason not to pay attention to the second M3. This time, it was on the drawing board long before the E36 started production.
Unlike its predecessor, the E36 M3 was not so obvious. It didn’t have flared arches and a big wing in the back. It featured a different set of bumpers and aerodynamically styled sills. The rear-view mirrors were different too. Actually, the M3 didn’t feature any spoiler or wing in the back.
Inside, there were some differences when compared with the rest of the E36 series. A set of sport-bucket seats was installed in the front and a different upholstery was used for the car. The M-badge was on the instrument cluster, and on the seats.
In Europe, the car offered 286 hp from its 3.0-liter engine, but in the U.S. if offered just 240 hp due to fuel adjustments and regulations. After 1995, the engine was increased to a 3.2-liter, which led to 321 hp for the European model while the U.S. spec model featured the same 240 hp but a bigger torque. The pre-facelift versions were mated to a standard 5-speed manual and after 1995 it was equipped with a 6-speed. An option for a robotized gearbox, named SMG was available for both versions.
The BMW M3 E30 was the first M3 in history and it was the most successful touring car ever, with more than 1500 victories on its class.
And the series model became a motorsports icon since its start, in 1986.
In order to be able to start in the touring championship series, a car should have been produced in at least 5000 units per year and the race model should have numerous parts in common with the production model. Those were the regulations and BMW struggled to find a way to get to the start. So, it built a race-car and then it made it suitable for the road and started to sell it. It was a blast, despite the fears of the sales department.
The E30 M3 was based on the standard E30 coupe version, but it was extensively re-worked. The C-pillars were different and the trunk was shorter. The front and rear fenders were enlarged in order to accommodate the new suspension and wider track. There were two evolution for the car, and one had adjustable aerodynamic elements such as an extension for the front apron and the angle of the rear wing.
The interior was fitted with sport-bucket seats and all the comfort needed for a pricey car. The dashboard, door panels, and rear trims were taken from the standard, non-M, version, with leather upholstery. An option for sunroof was available, but the car featured standard on-board computer, air-conditioning, and manual gearbox.
Under the hood it was a newly developed inline-four engine with twin-cam and 16 valves that offered almost 200 hp from the 2.3-liter displacement. It was available with two choices of manuals, both with 5-gears but one was dog-leg type with different gear ratios.