BMW M3 2009

2009 BMW M3
After a 10-year hiatus, the BMW M3 Sedan is coming back. For the 2009 model year, BMW is once again releasing a four-door version of its sought-after M3, which is the highest-performance version of the 3 Series.

The BMW M3 Sedan doesn't look dramatically different from a standard-issue 3 Series Sedan, though the two cars share few body panels. Obvious styling cues include different bumpers, added air intakes, flared wheel arches, a “power bulge” in its aluminum hood, unique side-mirrors and a spoiler designed to keep the rear end stable at high speeds.

As with its larger and more flamboyant counterpart, the M5, the BMW M3 Sedan includes a carbon-fiber-reinforced roof for added structural integrity and weight reduction. It also helps lower the car's center of gravity, which improves handling.

BMW M3 Sedan Vehicle Summary

The upgrades that truly differentiate a BMW M3 Sedan from the rest of the line, however, are more visceral in nature. Prime among them is a lightweight 4.0-liter V8 engine that develops well over 400 horsepower, output roughly on a par with the Chevrolet Corvette (though the latter’s small-block V8 generates about a third more low-end torque). The compact sedan can reach 60 mph from a standstill in just under five seconds. The top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.

The BMW M3 Sedan’s engine includes a variation on the regenerative braking systems found on most hybrid-powered vehicles. Here, it takes electrical power recovered while braking to recharge the battery and power various systems while the car is moving; this means the alternator can be disengaged from the engine under most circumstances so that it doesn't sap power.

A beefed-up six-speed, short-throw manual transmission is the only available gearbox. Though some may lament the lack of an automatic, the enthusiasts for whom the BMW M3 is designed won't complain.

Riding on a specially modified all-aluminum suspension, with 18-inch wheels and tires (19-inchers are optional) and a variable locking rear differential that optimizes traction on a wide range of road surfaces, the BMW M3 handles like few models this side of an exotic sports car.

As in the M5 and M6, the BMW M3 includes an MDrive control system that lets the driver tailor the car’s performance and handling characteristics. It can get complex, but those who are so inclined can fiddle with the engine management controls (for more lively throttle response), suspension damping (dial in a stiffer ride for better handling or a softer setting for comfort) and, optionally, the Servotronic power steering system (allowing more or less assistance at varying speeds).

In addition, the BMW M3’s standard Dynamic Stability Control system, which uses throttle- and brake-control to help minimize wheel spin and prevent a loss of control during extreme handling maneuvers, can be turned off altogether, which allows the car to be more easily coaxed into controlled skids around curves, called drifting.

The BMW M3’s interior is similar in appearance to the rest of the 3 Series line, albeit with richer materials and various M-specific embellishments. For example, the dashboard has a gauge that indicates how much of the engine’s power remains available, based not on rpm, but on the temperature of the engine oil. The cabin can be dressed up with various leather and trim treatments and front seats can be fitted with optional adjustable-width side bolsters to allow maximum lateral support through sharp turns.

The BMW M3 includes the automaker’s counterintuitive iDrive system to govern the entertainment, navigation, communication and climate control functions; as in the 5, 6 and 7 Series cars, it clumsily replaces individual buttons with a single knob and menus displayed on an LCD screen.

Is the BMW M3 Sedan for You?
Buy the M3 Sedan if
You want top performance in a compact four-door package with bragging rights to match, at least among BMW aficionados.

Keep Looking if
You need a larger or more practical vehicle, or prefer a sleeker-looking sports car.

Who Fits?
Two adults will find ample room and comfort up front; the rear can feel cramped for larger adults.

Closest Competitors
Audi S4; Lexus IS-F; Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Did You Know?
BMW began selling high-performance M-branded vehicles in the U.S. in 1988, with the original M3, which was essentially a racing version of the 3 Series coupe that had been modestly modified for street use. It was quick, but intensely harsh, even by performance-car standards, and was sold only to a select few enthusiasts and weekend racers. The second generation M3, released in 1995, was considerably more civilized and sophisticated, and set the tone for higher-performance M treatments that would be subsequently applied to the 3 Series and 5 Series Sedans, the Z Roadster, and the 6 Series Coupe.

While the automaker began refreshing its 3 Series line for the 2006 model year with a major redesign, the M3 coupe and convertible continued in their third generation with only minor modifications; the current fourth-generation BMW M3 Coupe and sedan debuted for 2008, with a Convertible version likely to follow.

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