2021 BMW M3 and M4 performance cars revealed: price, specs and release date

All-new BMW M3 Competition saloon and M4 Competition coupé share striking exterior styling and 505bhp six-cylinder engine...

2021 BMW M3 and M4

On sale: March 2021 | Price from: £74,755 (M3 Competition), £76,055 (M4 Competition)

There’s no sign of middle-age spread as the BMW M3 sports car turns 35 years old. After being off-sale for two years, its birthday is being marked by the introduction of an all-new model: the M3 Competition.

The M3 has long been famed for combining track-focused performance with everyday usability, and the new version is fitted with a more powerful version of the previous car’s 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine that complies with the latest emissions regulations. 

2021 BMW M3

Alongside the new four-door M3, BMW is launching a brand new version of the two-door M4 coupé. And it's decided to use the huge vertical grille from the upcoming new 4 Series on both the new M3 and M4.

Both cars have beefier wheel arches than their more mainstream counterparts, as well as a redesigned rear end with quad exhaust pipes.  

This high-performance pair could be the last M cars without any form of electrification, because in the future car companies will be introducing more hybrid models to meet fleet average CO2 emissions targets. 

2021 BMW M3 and M4 engines

Although lower-powered M3 and M4 models will go on sale in other regions, British buyers will be offered only the range-topping Competition versions, which produce a prodigious 505bhp. 

Both cars have a heavily updated version of BMW’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine with two turbochargers to provide a seriously swift response throughout the rev range. They dispense with the 0-62mph dash in 3.9sec, marginally faster than the previous comparable M3, and the cars are limited to a top speed of 155mph, or 180mph if the optional M Pro package is added. Although the M3 and M4 have slightly more power than an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Alfa has the same 0-62mph time and it will carry on accelerating up to 190mph. 

2021 BMW M3

Using a button on the gear selector, owners can alter the shift characteristics of the gearbox, choosing between Comfort, Sport or Track settings. The setup of the new M3 and M4 can be tailored to the driver and type of road. Owners can alter the noisiness of the engine and exhaust, the stiffness of the suspension and the responsiveness of the brakes using the M Setup menu within the car’s infotainment system. 

An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard, with carbonfibre gearshift paddles on the steering column. Although initial cars will be rear-wheel drive, the M3 and M4 will be offered with four-wheel drive from summer 2021; this is a first for these models. 

Both the M3 and M4 have new alloy wheels, 19in diameter ones on the front and 20in at the rear.  

2021 BMW M3 and M4 interior

Although many of the controls and switches have been carried over from the 3 Series and 4 Series, the M cars have red accents on various buttons and the steering wheel. The electrically adjustable, heated front seats have more pronounced side bolsters, integrated headrests and M badging. 

As befits range-topping models, the M3 and M4 come with the highest-spec 12.3in digital instrument panel and 10.3in centrally mounted infotainment touchscreen. There is also a wi-fi interface, wireless phone charging and the ability to use your phone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  

2021 BMW M3

As well as the usual active driver assistance systems, such as automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance, the M3 and M4 also come with a system that applies the brakes to avoid a rear-end collision. 

2021 BMW M3 and M4 prices

With prices for the new M cars starting at just under £75,000 for the M3 Competition, the new BMW looks expensive compared with rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and Mercedes-AMG C63, both of which start at nearly £10,000 less. However, the Competition versions of the M3 and M4 are the most potent incarnations of the German sports car, so you’re paying extra for the additional power. 

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Next: The best and worst performance cars >>