2010 BMW M3 GTS Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2009
FAST FACTS
  • Stroked 4.4-liter 8-cylinder engine
  • Rear-wheel drive appeals to driving enthusiasts
  • Carbon fiber panels and polycarbonate rear windows save weight
  • Standard racing seats and roll cage
  • Upgraded and adjustable coil-over suspension
  • Lightweight sport exhaust with titanium rear mufflers

What's New

  • New limited-edition, street-legal, track-ready BMW M3
  • High-performance engine and suspension
  • Lightened chassis
  • Standard 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • Unique orange/black paint scheme
  • 450 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque (36 hp and 30 lb.-ft.morethan standard M3)
IntroductionBMW rolled out its first M3 in1986 on the company's 3 Series "E30"platform, which arrived in North America for the 1988 model year.Unlike the standard 3 Series models with 6-cylinder power, thehigh-performance M3 was fitted with a race-bred 2.3-liter 4-cylinderengine. It was accompanied by radical bodywork and a sport-tunedsuspension intended to qualify the car for Group A Touring Car racing.The second- and third-generation M3 models were much more discreet inappearance and civilized in driving manner, but these "E36" and "E46"models continued to deliver much higher performance than the standard 3Series offerings.

In 2008, BMW introduced its fourth-generation M3 (andthe first-ever8-cylinder 3 Series) on the "E9x" 3 Series platform. Like its M3predecessors, the German automaker continued to race the model underits BMW Motorsports division (with models like the track-only M3 GT2and M3 GT4). The all-new street-legal M3 GTS was announced in late2009, with a limited production of just 99 units. All M3 GTS modelshave been sold.

Overview

It is hard to miss the 2010 M3 GTS. All of the special M3 GTS modelsare distinguished by bright orange bodywork and matte black exteriorcomponents such as the grille, roof trim, alloy wheels, and a tall rearwing. The roof of the standard M3 is carbon composite, and the M3 GTSmirrors this. However, the M3 GTS also receives further lighteningthrough carbon composite door panels, polycarbonate side windows, andthe removal of the rear seats and sound insulation. The audio system isalso absent-but customers may opt for it. Reflecting its racingheritage, all M3 GTS models are fitted with standard race bucket seatsas well as a roll bar mounted behind the B-pillars.

Standard M3 models feature a 4.0-liter 8-cylinder engine rated at 414horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The BMW engineers have enlargedthe engine on the 2010 M3 GTS to 4.4 liters by extending each of itspiston strokes. The result is 450 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torqueavailable at an engine speed of 3750 rpm (redline has been increased to8300 rpm).

In an effort to save weight and improve exhaust flow, the engineersdeveloped a lightweight sport exhaust with model-specific catalyticconverters and titanium rear mufflers. Power is sent to the rear wheelsthrough a standard 7-speed "M Dual Clutch Drivelogic" transmission thatis shared with the standard M3.

The M3 GTS's suspension has also been upgraded. While it is still basedon the standard M3 architecture, the rear-axle support is now rigid,which limits geometry changes, keeping the wheels in better contactwith the pavement, BMW says. The standard struts have been replacedwith a coil-over suspension complete with adjustable settings. Thecamber on the front and rear wheels is also more aggressive, keepingthe tires flat against the road surface during cornering, the makersays.

Technology

Bolted to the decklid of the M3 GTS's trunk is one of the largest rearwings to arrive in BMW showrooms-and it's not just for aesthetics, saysthe automaker. Aerodynamics is a big part of race car development. Theair must flow smoothly above, around, and below the vehicle-yet some ofit needs to be diverted for engine and brake cooling.

All of the M3 GTS's air is carefully managed by the vehicle's frontapron (or splitter) and rear wing (or spoiler) to keep the racecarfirmly planted on the track. In a unique move, BMW has fitted the M3GTS with a variable-position front apron and rear wing so the vehicle'saerodynamic characteristics may be adapted to each individual racetrackand meet different race sanctioning rules.

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