Other than the new Ford Bronco, perhaps no vehicle has drawn more speculation and stirred up more rumors in recent years than the new BMW M3 and M4. Joyous reports flew about that the car would offer both an old-school stick-shift version and a max-attack all-wheel-drive one, giving both purists and performance nuts a version to obsess over. Then came the more disheartening claims: the new M cars would both boast an Angry Pigs-esque front end that only a mother could love.
Well, it turns out all the rumors were true. BMW has revealed the new 2021 M3 and M4, and both vehicles offer a manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive, a more powerful Competition variant...and a very, very odd-looking front end.
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way: the grille. Much like the one seen on the new 4 Series, the twin kidneys that have traditionally festooned Bimmers have now grown to resemble, well, actual kidneys — albeit in oversized, abstract form. As you can see in the pictures here, the look is clearly designed to be broken up by the long, thin license plates found in Europe; how the car will look with North America's shorter, taller plates (or even without one at all) remains to be seen. Regardless, we fully expect this to be the first M car where enthusiasts go out of their way to embrace front-mounted plates.
Once you get past the grille, however, the rest of the design is in line with what we've come to expect from M3s and M4s — a more aggressive interpretation of the 3 Series and 4 Series. The rear bumper sticks out in a way that's very evocative of race cars; the wheel wheels bulge outwards to accommodate the mighty tires (275/40/18s up front come standard, as do 285/35/19 rears, but you can get wider-diameter wheels if you so choose), and the lower levels of the design all seem sculpted to help shunt air around as effectively as possible.
The M4 coupe, perhaps unsurprisingly, is more elegant from the side and rear, thanks to both its less-disrupted flanks and sweeping fastback roofline. Still, the M3's second set of doors and more usable back seat make it the clear choice for anyone needing to ferry children, canines or cargo around with any regularity...which, we assume, is the reason many people buy it over a Corvette or Cayman.
Inside, the new M3 and M4 are fairly close to the regular 3 Series, albeit with a few tweaks here and there. There are new heated M Sport seats as standard, with fancy, supportive-looking M Carbon bucket seats debuting as an option. (BMW promises they offer " racing functionality with...comfort over long distances," a claim we'll have to test for ourselves.) Of course, M logos are prodigiously splashed across the interior, as well, in order to remind you of your choice of ride should you forget.
Ultimately, though BMW M cars aren't made for looking at — they're made for driving. And on that front, the new M3 and M4 seem like they very much have their act together. Beneath the hood, as expected, lies the twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six seen in the X3 M and X4 M. "Basic" versions of the M3 and M4 crank out 473 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, the latter available from 2,650 and 6,130 rpm; opt for the M3 / M4 Competition, and you'll take home 503 hp and 479 lb-ft. You can only have that added power with an eight-speed automatic, however; if you want the six-speed stick, you'll have to choose what BMW calls the "core" models. (Same goes for AWD, which becomes available on the M3 / M4 Competition in mid-2021.)
The breakdown of performance features found on the new M3 and M4 is long enough to make James Joyce's eyes go crossed, so if you want to read up about all the specifics, we highly recommend checking out the official announcement. Otherwise, we'll leave you with the prices: the M3 starts at $69,900; the M4 coupe kicks off at $71,800; the M3 Competition begins at $72,800; and the M4 Competition can be yours starting at $74,700. All four models hit the streets next March.
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