The 2021 BMW M3 & M4

BMW M3 & BMW M4 lined up for 2021

BMW’s new BMW M3 Competition and M4 Competition cars have been officially unveiled – and each comes packed with new design features, tech, and mechanical reworkings. takes an exclusive peek a what’s new.

When the first pictures of the new M3 and M4 were released by BMW, a few gasps could be heard from the motoring world. That grille really split opinion – and it continues to do so.

The thing is, the grille is a bit of a distraction. While people are talking about whether or not the new look is to their taste, they’re neglecting to talk about what’s hidden behind it; a snarling 510hp twin-turbo straight-six that produces 650Nm of torque – the fastest and most powerful version of the cars to date.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s a world of brand-new motorsport technology integrated into every inch of the M3 and M4 to guarantee you make the most of those savage horses.

Here, we take a look at the key features, of the mechanically identical M3 and M4 and compare them to the outgoing cars to see if they justify the significantly upgraded price tag.

That Grille

Everyone’s talking about it – so let’s get this out of the way. The dual kidney-shaped grille isn’t to everyone’s taste – but we need to be honest here; when is a radical redesign ever really universally loved at launch?

Like it or not, that grille is steeped in classic motorsport design heritage. This is a European muscle car – and the grille takes a lot of inspiration from the ‘bullnose’ Pontiac Firebirds and Chevy Camaros of the early 70s. In fact, it’s not just the grilles that are similar; there are very similar lines running onto the bonnet and into the bonnet scoops too.

The muscle cars in question have aged exceptionally well – so give a couple of years and this design’s likely to be up there with the best BMW M cars of all time.

Competition only

Browse various global reviews of the new M3 and M4, and you’ll hear about standard and Competition versions of the cars. BMW has decided that the British audience doesn’t get a choice – so when they hit the road in March 2021, every UK car will be the ‘Competition’ spec.

This means 510hp instead of 480hp – and no manual option; just an 8-speed auto transmission. That might sound disappointing if you were hoping to wrestle with all that power yourself, but actually, this new torque-converter setup is likely to be an improvement on the previous cars’ dual-clutch 7-speed gearbox. This new transmission doesn’t seem to feature any of the launch control niggles that came with the previous cars either – so you can some exciting moments pulling away from the lights.

Four-wheel drive option

As standard, the new M3 and new M4 are both rear-wheel drive with a sport differential to make sure the power goes exactly where it’s needed. However, if you wish, you can upgrade to four-wheel drive for the first time ever in an M3 or M4.

If you decide you’d like all-wheel drive, you’ll be getting the same outstanding system as BMW M5 drivers benefit from – which means you can quickly switch in the rear-wheel only mode if you would like to let the back-end loose.


The track on both the M3 and M4 is 4cm wider than that of the standard 3- and 4-Series – and it adds 2cm to the previous M3 and M4 design.

Naturally, this wider stance requires a wider body to wrap around it – and a lot of that additional width comes courtesy of gorgeous flared arches front and rear. This is another area where the design team seem to have given a nod to ‘60s and ‘70s muscle cars; the skirts (particularly on the carbon kitted M3) are really pronounced, creating those classic curvy lines that swoop between the arches.


Isle of Man Green, Toronto Red, and Sao Paulo Yellow; these are the new paint finishes for the M3 and M4, and each one is glorious.

Naturally, there will be the standard BMW colours to choose from too – but it’s refreshing to see some bold choices, rather than those ever-popular variations of silver and black.

Don’t forget to choose your brake caliper colour too. For the first time ever, you can now spec your M3 or M4 with black, red, or blue calipers – where previous cars came with BMW’s choice.

Chassis and Weight

Both the new BMW M3 and M4 weigh in at 1,730kgs – which makes them around 160kgs heavier than their predecessors. A lot of this additional weight comes from additional bracing throughout the chassis – improving stiffness and handling.

It’s not only the additional bracing we’ve got to thank for the M cars’ outrageous handling though. All-new adaptive suspension dampers offer the range of drive modes you’d expect – and there’s a ten-stage traction control system and electronic wheel-slip control that allows for smoother acceleration across icy or wet surfaces.


M cars traditionally brake just as well as they accelerate – and the new M3 and M4 promise to be no different. 380mm discs at the front are twinned with 370mm discs at the rear for supreme stopping power.

That said, if you’re really going to be pushing your new M3 or M4, you might want to spend an extra £8,000 to add a performance-orientated ‘M Pro’ package that includes carbon-ceramic discs designed to reduce fade. Don’t worry though, that’s not all you get for your money – the same pack will see to it that your speed limiter is lifted from the standard 155mph to 180mph too.

Carbon Fibre

If you’ve played with the M3 or M4 configuration tool on the BMW website in the past, you might find it difficult to believe that there’s now even more carbon fibre available than ever before.

Carbon fibre dash and console inserts have been a firm favourite with UK buyers for years – so BMW are now spec’ing that as standard. However, there are plenty more carbon options if your budget allows.

A carbon roof is standard on the Competition – but you can upgrade to carbon fibre details elsewhere on the body for £3,000. This will land you carbon inserts and scoops on the front bumper, carbon side skirts, a carbon boot lip, and chunky carbon rear diffuser that looks like it’s come direct from an F1 car.

If you want to upgrade the already exceptional seats to carbon backed buckets – you can. Again, they look like they’re lifted directly from a race car – but they will add another £3,500 to your purchase price.

The Engine and Performance

So, we now know the new M4 and M3 are both significantly heavier than last year’s cars – what can we expect performance-wise?

Well, despite that extra bulk, the straight-six twin-turbo 510hp powerplant sees to it that the power-to-weight ratio is actually increased; meaning these are the quickest versions of the M3 and M4 ever. Needless to say, this also means they’re likely to be the costliest to insure – so it’s going to be worth looking at specialist insurance companies for cover.

That performance means these new cars will go from 0-60 in 3.9s – which shaves just 0.1s off the outgoing cars’ times. It’s worth looking beyond these standing-start figures though – as the new M3 and M4 become seriously impressive when you consider mid-range speed. Plant your foot at 50mph, and you’ll hit 75mph a full second quicker than the previous Competition-spec cars.

What’s new? An overview

How do the new M3 and M4 line up next to the outgoing 2018 versions of the car? We’ve lined the key points up here – and we’ve thrown in some specs from the original 1986 E30 M3 to illustrate how far the model’s come in since its inception.


2021 BMW M3/M4 Competition

Outgoing M3/M4 Competition

Original E30 M3






3.0 litre straight-six cylinder M TwinPower Turbo

3.0 litre straight-six cylinder M TwinPower Turbo

2.3 litre DOHC four-cylinder 16-valve





Maximum Torque






4.0s (auto)

6.7 (manual)



8.7s (auto)

24.1s (manual)


8-speed automatic torque converter

6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch auto

5-speed manual


£75,000 (M3)

£76,000 (M4)

£65,000 (M3)

£66,000 (M4)

£28,000 (M3)

The Price

You don’t get a host of cutting-edge BMW motorsport developments for nothing in this world – so you can expect a much larger price tag for your M3 or M4 compared to outgoing models.

In 2019, an M3 Competition cost around £65,000 – but if you fancy the most affordable 2021 model, you’ll be looking at £75,000. Likewise, the outgoing M4 started around £66,000 – but this one will cost upward of £76,000. Naturally, if you decide to add the various performance and styling upgrades we’ve covered – you can expect both cars to be over £90,000.

BMW’s M cars show a mixed performance when it comes to holding their value – the somewhat iconic E46 M3 held its value well over time, and is slowly starting to see prices creep back up – but other models have seen more severe depreciation.

Whether you’re an M3 or M4 owner – or you’re just curious to see what your car is worth – our valuation tool will give you up-to-the-minute market values. You’ll even be able to see what you’d get in part-exchange if you decide the 2021 BMW M3 or M4 is the next car for you.