2021 BMW M3 and M4 Preview

Beverly Braga | Sep 23, 2020
  • New M Drive Professional track day feature
  • New 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder
  • Up to 503 horsepower
  • Standard 6-speed manual transmission
  • Available 8-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission
  • Standard rear-wheel drive
  • Available M xDrive all-wheel drive (available summer 2021)
  • New iDrive 7.0 infotainment system
  • Pricing starts at less than $70,000 for M3 and $72,000 for M4
  • On sale March 2021

Introduction - Find the best BMW deals!

The all-new 2021 BMW M3 and M4 bring more of that spirited performance the BMW M division is known for thanks to aggressive exterior design, updated technologies, a new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter engine, and on-the-track analytics. Competition models add even more motorsports capabilities. 

But don’t think this 6th-generation M3 and 2nd-generation M4 compromise comfort and luxury for the sake of quicker lap times and longer drifts. The standard Adaptive M suspension and a selection of drive modes continue to offer a Comfort setting to balance the Sport. And premium features like Merino leather upholstery and cloud-based technologies up the luxury and sophistication game.

2021 BMW M3 Green and 2021 BMW M4 Yellow Front View

The BMW M3 price starts at $69,900 (not including a $995 destination fee) and its M3 Competition variant at $72,800. The 2021 BMW M4 price starts at $71,800, while the M4 Competition starts at $74,700. Both cars go on sale in March of 2021.

Exterior Features - Find the best BMW deals!

For 2021, the all-new BMW M3 and M4 offer a more track-tuned experience with an aerodynamic design that supports performance prowess. The M3 sedan is now 4.6 inches longer, 0.4 inches wider, 0.1 inches taller, and sits on a 1.8-inch longer wheelbase than the previous generation. The M4 coupe is 4.6 inches longer and on the same slightly stretched wheelbase but 0.7 inches wider and 0.4 inches taller than its predecessor. 

2021 BMW M3 Green and 2021 BMW M4 Yellow Rear View

Both M models feature BMW’s signature kidney-designed grille but in a larger capacity. The bigger the frame, the more the air can flow to keep the high-performance engine cool—no fake air vents on this vehicle.

To further distinguish the M3 and M4 from their non-M siblings, exclusive paint colors are offered as well as a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof and forged M light-alloy wheels. An optional M Carbon exterior package adds inlays for the front air intakes, rear diffuser, mirror caps, and CFRP rear spoiler.

Standard exterior features include full LED headlights, fiber-optic daytime running lights, and extended side sills. The flared fenders and large wheel arches also are designed to offer more room for wider track tires.

The Extended Shadowline trim is an M3 and M4 option that gives the outside mirrors, tailpipes, and rear spoiler a black finish. Although this feature is standard on Competition models, owners can option their vehicles to revert to the standard M3 and M4 exterior elements. They include body-colored mirrors and rear spoiler, plus chrome exhaust outlets.

Interior Features - Find the best BMW deals!

Signature BMW M-design details adorn the cabin as well. Red accents are found on the leather M steering wheel, its buttons, and the start/stop engine button. On Competition models, the leather-covered gear selector lever features an M logo and M GmbH-colored stitching.

2021 BMW M3 Dashboard

Standard interior elements include an Anthracite-colored headliner, Aluminum Tetragon trim, and Merino leather upholstery. The heated M sport seats feature prominent side bolsters, plus integrated headrests and illuminated model badging. A carbon-fiber interior trim package for Competition models adds inlays to the steering wheel and shift paddles. 

M-specific perforation is an available detail offered on the M3 and M4 for the first time, as are powered front M Carbon bucket seats. These optional seats, which utilize CFRP within the structure and feature racing harness cutouts, offer a 21-pound weight reduction versus the standard M sport seats.

Optional Features - Find the best BMW deals!

All-new for the 2021 BMW M3 and M4 is M Drive Professional. Developed explicitly for track driving, the analytics system provides drivers with purpose-named features like M Drift Analyzer and M Laptimer. Drivers can access vehicle performance details in real time via the control display. Other features include bird’s-eye-view track maps, car sensor data, and online community sharing via an app.

The M Driver’s Package is another performance add-on. Not only is the top speed increased to 180 mph, but it also includes a voucher for driver training at a BMW Performance Center.

An Executive Package adds a heated steering wheel, power trunk lid, adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight, a head-up display, wireless device charging, gesture control, and Wi-Fi for added luxury conveniences.

Parking Assistance is an available safety package that provides a 360-degree, 3D-view of the vehicle and its surroundings. The technology can also be accessed remotely via the BMW ConnectedDrive app. Additionally, the included BMW Drive Recorder can record front- and rear-video sequences of up to 40 seconds upon driver activation or automatically if a crash occurs. The owner can export the stored video clips via USB.

An optional Driving Assistance Professional Package is available for Competition models. It includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, traffic-jam assistance, active lane-keeping assistance, active blind-spot assistance, evasion assistance, and front- and rear cross-traffic warning. 

Many standalone options include design elements, carbon-fiber trim, creature comforts, and numerous M-developed performance parts.

Under the Hood - Find the best BMW deals!

A new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine powers both the M3 and M4. The output is 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, 48-hp more than the previous model. Zero to 60 mph acceleration takes 4.1 seconds, regardless of how many doors befit your BMW performance compact. 

Competition models, however, add a bit extra. BMW tunes the same engine to the sound of 503 hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque. These figures amount to 59 hp and 73 lb.-ft. of torque more than last year’s Competition model. Zero to 60 mph measures 3.8 seconds.

The top speed for the 2021 M3 and M4 is 155 mph, or 180 mph when optioned with the M Driver’s Package. The same goes for Competition models. Likewise, all variants redline at 7,200 rpm.

Additionally, BMW designed the water and oil cooling systems to better withstand the high engine temperatures associated with track use. The large front intakes also provide additional support by ensuring continuous airflow to the radiators up top and the engine oil coolers down low. Competition models also have a separate transmission oil cooler in the lower airflow area.

At launch, the core M3 and M4 models feature a 6-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive as the standard drivetrain. A Gear Shift Assistant provides rev-matching during downshifts. 

BMW equips the Competition models with an 8-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission that offers automatic and manual modes. Using the Drivelogic switch, drivers can select between comfort, sport, and track-focusing shifting in automatic and manual transmission modes. Automatic mode also features downshift rev-matching.

M3 and M4 Competition models will be available with BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel drive system come summertime. The electronically-controlled system features a rear bias with an Active M differential managing torque distribution at the rear axle. 

The BMW M xDrive system will offer three drive modes: 

  • 4WD – default setting with rear-wheel bias
  • 4WD Sport – directs more torque toward the rear axle as needed, such as during dynamic driving and track days
  • 2WD – shuts off stability control system completely for an authentic rear-drive experience

Safety - Find the best BMW deals!

Full of performance-oriented features, the BMW M3 and M4 don’t skimp on safety either. Standard driver-assistance features include parking assistance, automatic high-beam headlights, Active Protection, and Active Driving Assistant.

Active Protection is a pre-collision safety system that includes automatic seatbelt tensioning, automatic windows/sunroof closure, driver fatigue alert, and post-crash braking.

Active Driving Assistance includes lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, rear-collision preparation, and speed limit information.

Technology - Find the best BMW deals!

BMW’s all-digital Live Cockpit Professional is standard on the 2021 M3 and M4. It features a 12.3-inch instrument panel display and a 10.25-inch touchscreen center console display. Occupants can manage the infotainment system through voice activation, touchscreen, or via the iDrive controller.

In-vehicle technology features powered by iDrive 7.0 include wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, the voice-activated BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, and customizable M-specific designs for the instrument cluster and head-up display. 

BMW Maps is also now cloud-based to provide more accurate, real-time traffic data and route options. An on-demand search feature lets drivers access additional travel and destination information with as little as a single keyword.

Also, the optional head-up display features a projection area that is 70% larger than the previous version. Information displayed includes a multicolor tachometer, gear shift lights, and M View.

BMW is the source of information in this article. It was accurate as of September 22, 2020, but may have changed since that date.

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