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Friday mailbag: More carbon fiber, and an electric M3

Friday enters with a quite G80 update from me, and a question on the possibility of an electric M3. Shocking.

The Armaspeed G80 M3 carbon fiber slam panel

So impressed was I with Armaspeed’s carbon fiber intake, that I decided a little more dress up was in order under the hood.

Enter the company’s slam panel, also made of carbon fiber. It looks good, is easy to install and will make all the other bros flock to you when you pop the hood at the next Cars & Coffee.

You don’t need to do it at the same time as the intake. Simply remove two bolts and two screws, slide the panel under the rubber piping by the nose, and that’s all. The cover fits over some of the radiator bolts, so you only need to remove the two outer ones.

G80 M3 engine
The stock car has no panel cover at all, just some painted metal.
Armaspeed carbon fiber engine cover
Just remove a bolt and screw on each side, four in total.
Armaspeed carbon fiber engine cover
The carbon is nicely laid, making it look stock.
Armaspeed carbon fiber engine cover
All done.
Armaspeed carbon fiber engine cover
Armaspeed carbon fiber engine cover
Take just 20 minutes to enhance bro attraction.

With the enhanced looks of the panel and intake, I may feel the urge to do the engine cover. Stay tuned!

Question

Hey Mike, love the blog (thank you! – Mike). Wondering your thoughts on the electric M3 I saw on Bimmerpost this past week? Is it real, and is the G8X the last ICE M3?

– Doug

electric-M3
Wider fenders and an M3 face mean business.

Answer

I too saw the news, and while I don’t think it’s time to get out the pitchforks just yet, perhaps it’s at least time to locate them.

First, there’s a strong rumor that BMW is planning to extend production of the G20 (and thus, G8X) 3 Series into 2027. While production cycles usually go every 7 years, I believe that BMW wants the extension to give them some time to figure their next move.

Next is the platform the current M3 is based on, called CLAR, and its ability to accommodate both ICE powertrains, all electric ones, or a hybrid model. The electric model that Doug saw looks like an i4 that decided to hit the M gym. M is being tight-lipped about what that car is (for now), but given its Gran Coupe profile, I think I have an idea…

The iM4 Gran Coupe

BMW has yet to make one, and they’ve said it’s because the hatchback design prevented M from giving the chassis the level of stiffness they require. But that was for the F chassis.

With cars like the i4 M50i nudging ever-closer to true M car, it’s logical that they pick this layout for their first all-electric option. Remember that the XM still has a V-8 inside.

Making an M4 Gran Coupe allows BMW the flexibility to fail. If it works, they’ve added another variation to the M3/M4 stable, and if it doesn’t, they don’t tarnish the very important M3 nameplate.

electric-M3
I think an electric iM4 Gran Coupe is coming soon.

What does this mean for M?

Let’s talk good before bad.

The prototype you see here has four electric motors, one per wheel, giving the car four-wheel drive for what will no doubt be blistering acceleration. Think of how fast an M3 xDrive is – this car will be faster. The output of an ICE engine can be modulated a few times a second to control grip. On an electric car, the output can be adjusted a thousand times per second. Launching from a stop and pulling out of corners will be noticeably different.

It’s no lip service either. The LMDh car for IMSA they are working on is a hybrid, so this car should “work” as a real M car. That means you can take it to the track.

Forgetting about what makes it go for a moment, you’ll have a car that has even smarter versions of the dynamic controls in current M cars, with the electronic suspension and steering working even closer together. And the motors at the corners instead of in the nose should make for an exceptionally well-balanced car.

That said..

You will be assimilated

I did not particularly enjoy pushing an i4 M50 to its limits, and if I’m honest, I don’t think it was very happy with me doing so anyway. It was heavy and soft, with only the mountain of torque to save it.

But that wasn’t an electric M3 . An iM4 Gran Coupe would be stiffer, more responsive, and likely just as heavy. An F90 M5 weights about 4,400 lbs. An iM4 could weigh 5,000. Weight is never good in a car like this.

And what of that ICE engine? On paper, the electric motors will slaughter the S58. But any self-respecting car person knows it’s not just the power, but the sounds and sensations that make an M car special.

One final rhetorical question. If we’re all trying to save the environment (something electric cars are not very good at), then how do we solve the problem of conspicuous consumption by consuming more? Wouldn’t a smaller battery require less power to operate? You can say the same about an M3 with its S58 and somewhat dim fuel mileage, but at least in that car, no one is lying about what it really is.

We’ll see what the future holds, but I believe I’m going to grip my manual transmission M car a bit tighter.

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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters, DJI gimbals, Rode microphones, Dracast RGB lighting, and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Email me at mike@machineswithsouls.com with any questions. Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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