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BMW M3 history

Jun. 07, 2022


The BMW M3 is a high-performance model developed by the German automaker BMW based on the BMW 3 Series and developed by BMW M. Since its launch in 1986.

The first generation (codenamed E30, 1986-1991)

The first-generation M3 was launched in 1986. It was originally designed for German touring car racing (German: Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, DTM for short). Based on the E30 two-door model of the same period, it used a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine code-named S14B23; The European standard output 200 horsepower, the US standard output 195 horsepower, in the "M3 Sport Evolution (also known as EVO2)" model launched in September 1989, the European version was upgraded to 215 horsepower.


In 1988, the M3 introduced the Evolution (aka EVO1) model, powered by a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine codenamed S14B23, other changes included larger wheels (16 X 7.5 inches), thinner rear and side windows, more A lighter decklid, deeper front splitter and additional rear spoiler, followed by a more powerful "Sport Evolution" (aka EVO3) model powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four with an enlarged front Bumper opening and adjustable multi-position front splitter and rear wing. Output 238 horsepower, limited to 600 units.

BMW M3 history

The second generation, codenamed E36 (1992-1999)

The M3 model of the E36 3 Series was released in November 1992, initially only as a two-door version, with a convertible version added in 1994. A four-door version was also added in December 1994 to fill the lack of an M5 sedan model between the end of production of the E34 M5 in 1995 and the introduction of the E39 M5 in 1998.


In September 1995, a facelift of the two-door panel was introduced. Changes include an increase in engine displacement to 3.2 liters and an upgrade of the manual transmission from a 5-speed to a 6-speed. The four-door panels in November 1995 and the convertible in February 1996 were facelifted. The kerb weight of the 1996 M3 coupe in European specification was 1,515kg.


The facelift also introduces a 6-speed 'SMG' automatic manual transmission, the first to be offered on an M3 outside the US. The SMG transmission was praised for its quick shift times and handling in performance situations, but criticized for its behavior in everyday driving situations.


The E36 M3 is powered by the BMW S50 inline-six engine. It was the first M3 to use a six-cylinder engine.


In most countries, the original 3.0 version produced 286 hp at 7,000 rpm and 320 N m at 3,600 rpm. The North American model switched to a less powerful BMW S50B30US engine.


The facelifted model in late 1995 was upgraded with a 3.2 version of the BMW S50 engine, producing 321 hp at 7,400 rpm and 350 N·m at 3,250 rpm. North American models switched to the less powerful BMW S52 engine.

BMW M3 history

The third generation (codenamed E46, 2000-2006

Launched in 2001, it is equipped with a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine (engine code S54B32), the output power of the European version is 343 horsepower, and the American version is 333 horsepower. It is equipped with a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission.


In 2004, BMW launched the lightweight M3 CSL model. The CSL model used a large number of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP), aluminum and other light metals in aviation materials, and the weight was reduced to 1,385 kg and the horsepower reached 360 hp. Limited production of 1384 units.


In addition, BMW launched the V8 engine style "M3 GTR" for the first time for the M3 series, using a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine (codenamed P60B40), which was originally designed for various endurance races, outputting 440 horsepower. In 2001 , To celebrate the M3 GTR's victory in the 2000 American Lerman 24 Hours Endurance Race, the M3 GTR civilian version was launched, with a limited number of 6 units.

BMW M3 history

Fourth generation (code E90/E92/E93, 2007-2013)

Launched in Europe in the third quarter of 2007. The new generation of M3 uses a newly developed 4.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine (code-named S65B40) with an output of 420 horsepower. It is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission at the beginning of mass production, and then a 7-speed Getrag dual-clutch transmission is added.


In terms of body appearance, the roof is made of the same carbon fiber material as the BMW M6 of the same period. In addition to the original two-door four-seat coupe version, there are also four-door sedan, five-door station wagon, two-door convertible and more.


In 2009, BMW launched the high-performance model "M3 GTS" of this generation of M3. It is equipped with a 4.4-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine (codenamed S65B44) and a 7-speed Getrag dual-clutch transmission, which is 136 lighter than the ordinary M3. kg, the acceleration from 100 km/h takes only 4.4 seconds. Later, in 2011, the "M3 CRT" model based on the "M3 GTS" was launched. It is a four-door model and is limited to 67 vehicles.

BMW M3 history

The fifth generation, codenamed F80 (2014-2018)

Since the fifth-generation M3, the M3 has only been offered as a four-door model, with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six engine (codenamed S55B30) and a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, outputting 431 hp. The roof is made of carbon fiber.


In 2018, BMW launched the high-performance model "M3 CS" of this generation of M3. Compared with the ordinary model, the weight has been reduced by 50 kg, and the horsepower has been increased to 460 hp, with a limited number of 1200 vehicles.

BMW M3 history

The sixth generation, codenamed G80 (2021-present)

In 2021, BMW launched the sixth generation of the M3, codenamed G80, which is subdivided into three versions, the M3 with a six-speed manual, the M3 Competition with an 8-speed ZF manual transmission, and the debut of the four. Drive version M3 Competition xDrive. All models are equipped with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six engine (codenamed S58) that can output 509 horsepower on the M3 Competition, and the 0-100km acceleration remains around 4 seconds. All models have 19-inch front wheels and 20-inch rear wheels. This generation of M3 does not follow the design of the 3 series as before, but adopts the front face design of the 4 series to highlight its sports characteristics. However, due to the large area of the air intake grille on the front face, this design is also jokingly called "big nostrils" by some netizens. At the same time, because of environmental protection policies, many sources have pointed out that the M3 is the last model to use pure gasoline power.

BMW M3 history