BMW slashes weight in its new M3/M4 twosome

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BMW’s new-generation M4 coupe, shown, and M3 sedan are to go on sale at the end of this month.

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — BMW lopped 180 pounds off the new-generation M3 and M4 high-performance compacts by using lightweight materials.

“This is the first M car with reduced weight from one generation to another,” said Victor Leleu, BMW of North America product manager for the M3 sedan and M4 coupe and convertible.

The 2015 M3 sedan and the M4 coupe go on sale at the end of this month. The M4 was previously also called M3 but BMW’s two-door compact sedans now use the 4-series name. A convertible M4 is due this summer.

The weight reduction and use of innovative lightweight materials were driven by the “schizophrenic” nature of the cars, Leleu said.

“They need to excel on the street and to be daily drivers and to excel on the track,” he said.

To boost performance, BMW used lightweight materials including carbon-fiber reinforced plastic for the roof and aluminum for a number of components, including the subframe. Carbon fiber is also used for the trunk lid of the M4 coupe, cutting 12 pounds.

The six-speed manual gearbox is 26.4 pounds lighter than its predecessor because it has new carbon friction linings in its synchronizer rings.

Carbon fiber was used in the driveshaft, making it 40 percent lighter than its predecessor. Lightweight aluminum was used for the control arms, wheel carriers and axle subframes, saving 11 pounds. Fiberglass was used in the seats.

The M4 with manual weighs in at 3,530 pounds. The M3 with manual is 3,540 pounds.

BMW ditched the V-8 engine used in the previous generation and has equipped the M3/M4 with an inline six-cylinder 3.0-liter twin-power turbo.

Compared with the V-8, the new engine produces 2 percent more power to 425 hp and has a whopping 39 percent increase in torque to 406 pounds-feet. c

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