We’ve seen a lot of fast and fascinating cars from BMW’s M division lately, including stuff like the X5 M and X6 M, possibly the baddest SUVs on the market right now. While we’ve had a lot of fun with those behemoths, we still can’t help but recall that the M division is supposed to be about lightweight performance powerhouses. But even the quintessential M car, the M3, has become somewhat portly in its current iteration, particularly the M3 convertible, which has a retractable hardtop that is as elaborate as it is heavy.
And so it’s heartwarming to see the division, now under the leadership of former Mini brand chief Kay Segler, return to its roots some with the M3 GTS, which we’d spotted a few weeks ago testing on the Nürburgring racetrack. BMW has now taken off the cover, and what we see is enticing, to put it mildly.
Output is moderately higher, as the regular M3’s screaming V-8 engine has been enlarged from 4.0 liters to 4.4. As a result, the GTS makes 444 hp compared to 414 hp in the base car. Somewhat surprisingly, the only available transmission is BMW’s seven-speed dual-clutch M DCT unit. We prefer shifting manually, but the automated-manual is an impressive box. Hand-built to customer order, the GTS is said to weigh just 3285 pounds; for reference, BMW says an M DCT–equipped M3 coupe carries around an additional 419 pounds.
[youtube width=”700″ height=”486″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCzDOpVasHM[/youtube]
Cutting the Fat
So, how did BMW manage to save so much weight? Titanium mufflers, a lightened center console and door trim, and the omission of unnecessary stuff such as rear seats and air conditioning. The back and rear side windows are made from extremely lightweight Makrolon plastic. Sound insulation has been trimmed along with the deletion of the audio system, but who needs it? We’ll take the soundtrack of the high-revving V-8 any day.
Designed for the track as well as the street, the M3 GTS is equipped with an adjustable suspension and a fixed rear subframe. The front splitter and rear wing can also be adjusted. And there’s a roll bar, a fire extinguisher, and wiring for a remote kill switch.
BMW has not yet made up its mind on the top speed of the M3 GTS, according to a company spokesman. We think this racer could possibly reach an ungoverned 190 mph, but it’s likely that it will be limited to 155 mph with the option to raise the limit to 174 mph, just like the regular M3. But really, this car is made for the track, and the last thing you want to run into on the straightaway is the governor. That is, besides other cars and maybe the wall.
M3 GTS deliveries will commence in Germany this spring, where it will cost €115,000 or about €230,000 here in Ireland. European free movement of goods and open market ? My Arse!
Credit to Car&Driver