By RICHARD BUNNER
Driving has always been an important part of automotive construction and design, and only a few cars reach the level of driving intensity that an M-Sport car has, with the most notable being the M3.
Beginning in the 1985 model year, the E30 M3 was the beginning of a German legend. Based off of a 3-series coupe, the M3 featured many similarities but also sported many new, performance-based modifications. These modifications included a 212hp, 2.3l inline-four engine, and a five-speed transmission. The exterior included wider fenders, a larger spoiler, and more aerodynamic ground effects. The E30 is very well known for its boxy styling and incredible motorsports heritage, including rally and GT racing.
The next generation of M3, the E36 released in 1992, continuing the boxy styling; however, it features more modern aspects, including brick headlights and 5 spoke wheels. The body was made slightly more round for increased aerodynamic efficiency and included upgraded ground effects. Originally, the E36 M3 had an S50 inline six and five-speed manual but was later upgraded to a six-speed manual mated to an S50B32 engine. Offered in both convertible and coupe body styles, the M3 was also offered as a four-door sedan for those who wanted to carry people and have a fun time driving.
Perhaps the most popular and well-known generations of M3, the E46 is a very well designed car. Released in the year 2000, the days of boxy styling and brick headlights were gone, and in comes the E46 being more rounded with smoother headlights. The new model included an S54 inline six engine producing 333hp with a six-speed manual transmission. The E46 had a special model known as the M3 GTR, which had a twin turbo inline six and GT widebody kit. The GTR was made especially popular by its feature in “Need for Speed: Most Wanted.”
Beginning in 2007, the E90 series of M3 was produced in three different models: coupe, sedan, and convertible. Instead of the traditional inline cylinder layout, this generation used a four-litre V8 engine producing around 414hp paired with a six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic. This generation replaced the GTR with the GTS package. The GTS was powered by a 4.4 litre v8 producing about 444hp. This car also was 300 pounds lighter than a standard M3 and featured a rear spoiler and front splitter.
The latest generation of M3 is known as the F80. Beginning production in 2014, the F80 utilizes a twin turbo inline six engines producing about 435hp. Available only as a sedan, this generation accelerates from 0 to 60 in four seconds with a top speed of up to 174 mph. There was no GTR or GTS model for this generation, but there was a competition package that increased power output to 444hp and added lighter body panels and aerodynamics. The M3 was temporarily discontinued in the May of 2018; however, BMW stated they will release a successor in 2020.
For European enthusiasts and people who enjoy driving, the M3 is very well known with an amazing heritage.