Speaking generally, there aren’t too many new cars that cross the pages of this site. It’s even somewhat rare for us to breach the decade-old mark; that’s the point where really nice used examples of our favorites start to become hard to locate. And, frankly since anyone can walk into a dealership, sign a few papers and walk out a lot lighter but with any specification car they can afford, the older metal is typically what draws our (and, hopefully, your) interest.
But once in a while something pretty special comes along, from a 911R to this car. The fifth generation F80 M3 has taken a huge leap forward in complexity, technology and performance. The S55 twin-turbocharged inline-6 is an absolute tower of power; while ultimate horses didn’t increase much version the E9x S65 V8 (425 versus 414), the torque was the big news. It was in part the final number – 410 lb ft., up an amazing 90 over the V8, but it was also the reality of when you could use that torque. The S65 developed peak twist at just shy of 4,000 rpms; the S55 does it at 1,850. Not only that, but the torque curve is billiard table flat until 5,500 rpm. The result, despite the heavy weight stature of the new gigantic F80, is astonishing speed.
By itself, the F80 M3 is a force to be reckoned with. However, this particular M3 is just that bit more special, as it was handed over the group at BMW Individual and painted in E46-signature Laguna Seca Blue:
Over the past few years, I’ve increasingly noticed mainstream dealers taking their wares to eBay. Usually we don’t cover these cars much – frankly, as a new car, basically you don’t need us to find it for you. Anyone can pop on to their marque of choice and dream away with the builds. But this particular M3 caught my attention because of two reasons; first, the screaming Fire Orange II paint from BMW Individual, and second – the price; at $110,000, nearly double the standard MSRP on a F80 M3. What’s going on?
While purists in part decried the death of the naturally aspirated M3 at the same time that the new nomenclature for the coupe lineup was launched, I personally wasn’t too offended – in fact, I was a little excited. First off, being an Audi fan I was used to name changes – Audi redefined its market lingo three times in just a few years with the change from the 5000 to 200, then again to S4, and once more S6 between 1989 and 1995. So while I thought it was a bit silly that BMW had to introduce a new number lineup for it’s coupe 3 (which, incidentally isn’t always a coupe…), I’m not going to fault BMW for choosing a new market strategy. But the real reasons I was impressed were the changes to the drivetrain and, I suppose it should come as no surprise, the colors offered. The change to the twin-turbocharged S55 didn’t produced much more horsepower than the S65 V8, but it did produce a lot more torque – something BMW was happy to showcase with a series of advertisements showing the new F82 sliding around a series of parked classic M3s. That forced induction was good for a 110 lb.ft boost over the naturally aspirated V8, starting below 2,000 rpms. You could go on and on about the technology that’s been incorporated into this engine – all of which is cutting edge and really impressive – but the chart that I find really amazing is to compare the relative power output versus efficiency of the S55 to the previous generation M3s. What’s staggering is that not only is this car the most powerful, it’s nearly able to match the fuel consumption and emissions of the 2.3 liter inline-4 from the E30. It produces well over double the horsepower and torque of the S14. That’s technology working on your side, and that’s amazing to consider. We really are living through a very special period of automobile performance if you’re able to partake; here’s a car that puts out numbers close to a legendary 427 Cobra in terms not only of power output, but acceleration as well; but it stops and turns better, too, can carry 4 (maybe 4.5?) adults in comfort, gets better fuel mileage, is better for the environment, works in all conditions and guess which one you’d rather be in a crash in.
Getting back to my original point, though, the F8x also introduced a few new colors that look amazing on the new BMWs; continuing with the theme of track-named colors, Yas Marina Blue is gorgeous, Sakhir Orange Metallic is pretty vivid, but the introduction of Austin Yellow Metallic is the one that got me. It looked an awful lot like my favorite E46 tone, Phoenix Yellow, and really makes the new M3/4 a knockout. Of course, for some those color options weren’t enough, so continuing in the theme of the last few BMWs I’ve written up, here’s one that and individual turned over to Individual: