BMW's New M3 Sedan

To complement its M3 coupe, BMW plans a M3 sedan with a top speed of 155 mph and a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds

Thirteen years after the launch of the original M3 Saloon, BMW has announced details of a new version of its high-performance range in a 4-door body-shell. While four generations of M3 have been built, this is only the second time an M3 Saloon has been offered and with its ability to produce 420hp at 8,300rpm and 400Nm of torque at 3,900rpm, the Saloon matches the performance of the latest M3 Coupé.

The car's 3,999cc V8-engine red-lines at 8,400rpm with 85 per cent of its torque available over an engine range of 6,500rpm. BMW M's six-speed manual gearbox and variable M differential conveys up to 100 per cent of available power to the wheel with most grip and economy is still impressive at 22.8mpg on the combined cycle.

Limited to a top speed of 155mph, the Saloon achieves zero to 62mph in 4.9 seconds, only 0.1 seconds slower than the Coupé.

As with all new BMW models launched in 2007, the new M3 Saloon features Brake Energy Regeneration. This technology uses an Intelligent Alternator Control and Absorbent Glass Mat battery to recognize when the engine is on over-run and activates the alternator to charge the battery with what would previously have been wasted energy.

Another aspect of BMW's EfficientDynamics programme is lightweight technology. Although not featuring the carbon-fibre roof panel from the Coupé, it does use other lightweight, but high-strength, materials. Using a light-alloy engine block manufactured alongside F1 engines at BMW's foundry at Landshut, Germany, the new V8 powerplant weighs a mere 202kgs. This is 15kgs less than the six-cylinder engine in the previous-generation M3.

The crankshaft in the new engine is made from one complete forging and weighs only 20kgs. Additionally, the front axle components are built entirely from aluminum. Even the five-link rear axle, normally constructed from high-strength steel, has aluminum components to save weight.

The Saloon features an M Drive Manager that brings together numerous personalized functions of the car. The optional Electronic Damper Control (Normal, Comfort and Sport), three DSC+ traction control settings and three specific engine control maps, plus the response rate of the Servotronic power steering can be controlled with one button on the steering wheel. Once the desired settings are created in the iDrive menu, part of the standard Professional navigation system, one push of the MDrive button transforms the M3 from a car suitable to collect the kids from school in into a fire-breathing supercar.

Although visually similar to the standard 3 Series Saloon, almost all the bodyshell parts are different with the emphasis on the sporting dynamics of the car. The M3 Saloon features the same front end design from the Coupé - lowered, sportier headlamp design and power dome in the bonnet with front fog lamps dropped and three large air ducts in the front lower valance to maintain a high volume of air flow.

Like the Coupé, the new M3 Saloon features 18-inch Dark Graphite double-spoke light-alloy wheels as standard, with a forged and polished 19-inch wheel available as an option. Another M series trait, the side gill in the front wing, has been elongated for the Saloon, mirroring the design from the M5. Also carried-over from the two-door are the aerodynamically-effective door mirrors.

From the rear, an aerodynamic diffuser emphasizes BMW M's trademark twin double exhaust pipes protruding from beneath the valance. The bootlid also features a discreet lip spoiler.

No details about the launch date and pricing of the M3 Saloon are yet available.

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