What It Is
The performance variants of the BMW 3 and 4 Series.
Performance is as strong on the street as it is on the track.
Can be difficult to find a comfortable driving position.
The 2015 BMW M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe deliver on the promise of performance and luxury.
For the 2015 model year, BMW is adding to its M performance lineup with the addition of the all-new M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe. Both machines have been re-engineered to be lighter, more fuel-efficient, and deliver more power and torque, not only keeping to the heritage of the famous M standards, but propelling the lineup forward.
We had the opportunity to get behind both models and see how they perform on the track and street. Our day kicked off at Road America in Wisconsin, where we could take both models out on the track for hot laps and on the streets to see how they perform in real-world situations. So what did we think of these new beasts?
WalkaroundWhether through the view of a helmet or a pair of sunglasses, the 2015 BMW M3 and M4 models have an air about them that screams aggression. With sharp styling cues and strong body lines, you can almost feel the power that these cars possess, even before you start them up.
While these models may be all-new, there's classic BMW styling and features that are hard to miss. The signature kidney grille is present on both models, and for the first time on the four-door M3, BMW has added the CFRP roof. Previously only available on coupe variants of the outgoing M3, the roof is made from aluminum to provide extra weight savings and help to emphasize the sporty nature of the vehicle.
Sitting DownThe M3 and M4 are just like the standard variants in terms of the interior. Luxury touches detail the entire cabin, with a few additions like sport seats and M-branded features. As soon as you sit down, the seats seem to conform to your body, thanks to the sport-like design, and are easily adjustable to find that perfect position for the street or track--though that sweet spot may be difficult.
The layout of the dash may be a little confusing for someone not used to BMW, but a learning curve is expected for every new model out on the road today. An easy mouse-like function controls the infotainment system, along with some controls on the steering wheel for ease of use while driving. Trust us when we say you may want to keep both hands on the wheel.
DrivingWhile we mainly drove the M3 Sedan on the streets, we spent our time on the track in the M4 Coupe. After three introductory laps on the famous Road America race track with instructors, it was time for us to push these cars to the limit. Although I wasn't familiar with track driving, it was easy to get a feel for when to brake and accelerate, especially with a trusted instructor in the passenger seat. This track, with its long straightaways and tight corners is the perfect test to see how these cars handle. The most important thing I noticed was the brakes. They were strong and firm, and gave me a boost of confidence when coming into a tight turn from a high-speed straightaway. Acceleration was quick thanks to the twin-turbo inline-6, and you could hear these cars long before you saw them.
But out on the street, it's hard to believe these are the same cars that we just drove on the track. When not pushed to the limits, these cars are rather tame. While not screaming at higher speeds, you can still hear a little bit of that engine growl. But it doesn't take away from the quietness of the cabin. Handling is tight and steering is precise, as the Wisconsin back roads had a lot of twists and turns to keep us excited. However, it's really easy to go faster than you think because these cars are just that smooth. You may think you're going around 45 mph, but as soon as you look at that head-up display you see you're doing closer to 80. This isn't a bad thing, though, just something to keep in mind.
SummaryIt's easy to say we enjoyed our time behind the all-new 2015 BMW M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe, both on and off the track. However, we'd love a bit more time behind the wheel to get a full impression of what these models have to offer. We know that we can throw these models into corners, slam on the brakes, or take it easy and drive leisurely down the road. We like the way these cars handle, but for everyday driving, the suspension may be a bit too stiff. Added to that, the sport seats aren't as comfortable as you would think, which would make a daily commute that much less appealing. But those who love BMW and the M line will enjoy what these cars bring to the table.
Basic Specs2015 BMW M3 Sedan: 3.0-liter inline-6, six-speed manual (standard) or seven-speed M-Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), rear-wheel drive, 425-hp, $62,925
2015 BMW M4 Coupe: 3.0-liter inline-6, x-speed manual (standard) or seven-speed M-Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), rear-wheel drive, 425-hp, $65,125