The BMW M3 Coupe reaches the end of its production run – but its racing career continues at pace.

Category: BMW, BMW M3, BMW Racing
Tags: Racing

End of production BMW M3

Munich. Fresh from a clean sweep of German Touring   Car Masters (DTM) titles in 2012, the BMW M3 has continued to power   from one victory to the next again this season. And the race-spec car   is sure to be involved in a good deal more exciting action before the   season concludes this autumn. The series-produced model, however, is   already on the finishing straight as BMW M GmbH announces the end of   production for the fourth generation of the BMW M3 Coupe.

BMW M3 Race

The high-performance sports car which spawned the championship-winning DTM racer is set to end its career on the road with more than 40,000   examples having left the factory. Indeed, the BMW M3 Coupe will be   drawing a line under an extraordinary run on the world’s car markets.   The BMW M3 Convertible, likewise powered by a high-revving V8 engine,   will continue in production until September 2013.

The BMW M3 has epitomised the direct transfer of racing expertise to   the road since 1986. And the latest generation of the high-performance   sports car succeeded in adding another sprinkling of fascinating new   chapters to its model history – from innovative technology yielding   even more intense driving pleasure to BMW’s highly successful comeback   in the DTM. With its athletic design, an overall package pieced   together with hallmark M precision, and top-class performance   capability, the BMW M3 enjoyed immense popularity around the world.   Production of the BMW M3 Coupe – launched in 2007 – exceeded   40,000 units, and the BMW M3 Sedan added almost 10,000 units to the   total. Just under 16,000 units of the BMW M3 Convertible have been   built to date.

The most important shared feature of the three body variants is their   powertrain and chassis technology, derived directly from motor sport.   The 4.0-litre V8 engine, developed exclusively for the BMW M3, has   cylinder banks positioned at a 90-degree angle to one another. It   develops maximum output of 309 kW/420 hp, generates peak torque of   400 Newton metres (295 lb-ft) and revs to a maximum 8,400 rpm. Like   the engine’s high-revving character, numerous construction details,   such as the electronically controlled individual throttle butterflies,   ion current knock control and dynamically optimised oil supply, were   taken straight from motor racing. Alongside its instantaneous   responsiveness, the colossal power delivery of the naturally aspirated   engine – maintained at a constant level into the upper reaches of the   rev range – is its defining feature. The BMW M3’s engine won the 3.0   to 4.0-litre class of the International Engine of the Year Award five   times in succession.

The transfer of technology from race track to road also shapes the   character of the car’s other powertrain and chassis components. A   lightweight chassis developed specifically for the M3 – complete with   a front axle secured to the body by an aluminium stiffening plate and   a five-link rear axle with hollow-tube anti-roll bar and forged   aluminium axle control arms – teams up with a rack-and-pinion steering   system with M-specific Servotronic and the variable M differential   lock to provide precisely controlled transfer of power to the road in   any situation. The BMW M3 was fitted as standard with a   high-performance compound braking system and could also be specified   as an option with the three-mode Electronic Damper Control system.   Another impressively innovative option introduced for the   fourth-generation BMW M3 was M DCT Drivelogic. The first double-clutch   transmission for series-produced vehicles to be set up specifically to   suit the performance characteristics of a high-revving engine opens   the door to extraordinarily dynamic acceleration with no interruption   in the flow of power.

BMW M3 Images

The fourth-generation BMW M3 was a trailblazer in its class when it   came to intelligent lightweight construction. Playing a prominent role   alongside the aluminium bonnet and plastic front side panels in   lowering the weight of the Coupe’s body was its carbon roof. The use   of this high-tech material on the scale achieved with the BMW M3   represented another important step for the BMW Group towards the   industrial manufacture of carbon body components.

During the six years or so of BMW M3 production, the USA, Great   Britain and Germany grew into its most important sales markets. In   2010 the Coupe also became a work of art when US artist Jeff Koons   transformed the BMW M3 GT2 endurance racer into the 17th member of the   BMW Art Car series. Koons’ creation was unveiled in early June 2010 at   the Centre Pompidou in Paris, before lining up in the Le Mans 24-hour   race two weeks later. The BMW M3 GT2 added another rash of victories   to the BMW M3’s exceptional record of success, including five titles   in the American Le Mans series and victory in the Nürburgring 24-hour race.

The fourth-generation BMW M3 was produced at the BMW plant in   Regensburg alongside the BMW 3 Series Sedan, Coupe and Convertible.   Its V8 engine was supplied by the BMW engine factory in Munich, where   specific production processes on the special engine assembly line   ensured the high-performance unit would be marked by excellent quality   and reliability.

Among the highlights of the BMW M3’s production run were the   exclusive small-series variants of the car introduced over its   lifetime, which brought its race-inspired characteristics even further   to the fore. The BMW M3 GTS, for example, was developed as a   road-legal clubsport-oriented model. The displacement of its V8 engine   was increased to 4.4 litres, enabling maximum output of 331 kW/450 hp.   Bespoke chassis components and aerodynamic measures, plus a two-seat   cockpit designed for racing use, prepared this exclusive   special-edition model for competitive race action on the track and   ensured it offered a super-intense M experience on the road.   135 examples of the BMW M3 GTS were delivered to customers.

The BMW M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) joined the fray in 2011 in   a limited run of 67 units. Based on the BMW M3 Sedan and built at the   BMW M GmbH factory, the BMW M3 CRT boasted exclusively manufactured   lightweight components, a 331 kW/450 hp version of the V8 engine and   modified chassis technology – all of which was a recipe for   exceptionally precise handling balance. An innovative   carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) manufacturing process was   employed in the construction of the BMW M3 CRT. Its bonnet was made   from two CFRP mouldings encasing an aramid honeycomb structure. This   construction gave the bonnet the strength of a conventional steel   equivalent, but at roughly a quarter of its weight. The bucket seats   of the BMW M3 CRT were made from two CFRP layers wrapped around a   recycled-paper honeycomb, and a carbon layer made using conventional   production technology was added to visible areas. A rear spoiler and   an air-channelling element integrated into the front apron (both made   from CFRP) rounded off the exclusive lightweight elements found on the   BMW M3 CRT.

BMW M GmbH celebrated the triple success of BMW’s DTM comeback – the   drivers’, team and manufacturers’ titles were all won with the BMW M3   – with a limited-run special-edition model: 54 examples of the BMW M3   DTM Champion Edition would leave the factory, one for each DTM race   victory notched up by BMW between 1987 and 2012.

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