Home / Social media / Cars / A BMW M3 generational drag race is what the internet needed. Which one is your money on?


BMW’s iconic M3 has been around since 1986 and it quickly became the benchmark performance car that all others were compared against. The car had a strong motor along with great suspension and that meant it was fast on the track and not bad in a straight line. It was a car that pretty much set up the performance sedan class, and it has a long and successful history both on track and in competition. The first-generation BMW M3 was based on the E30 3 Series platform and featured a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder powerplant that produced 192 hp when launched. The car was a homologation car for Group A touring car racing, and it has since become a halo car for many car collectors the world over. The second-generation BMW M3 was introduced in 1992 and was based on the E36 3 Series platform and was powered by a 3.0-litre inline-6 that initially produced 240 hp, but there were a few special editions along the way with more power on tap and a lighter overall weight that saw even better performance. One of the aficionado's favourites is the 3rd-generation E46 M3 based on the E46 3 Series platform. This one featured a bigger capacity 3.2-litre inline-6 with 333 hp on tap, and again this was also available in a convertible version and a few other special editions including the CSL, which is also a very sought-after limited-number edition that is worth some serious money. Here in SA we only received 65 units.

In 2007 the 4th-generation was introduced, this one was based on the E90/E92 3 Series platform and was powered by a 4.0-litre V8 with a healthy 414 hp on tap. The model designation was split because one is the normal hard-top version and the other is the open-top version. The 5th-generation BMW M3 was introduced in 2014, which is a scary thought, almost ten years old already. In my head, the E36 is only 10 now. This one was based on the F80 3 Series platform and featured a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-6 producing 425 hp. This is arguably the most popular one in SA, they’re all over at most events and many are quite heavily modified. The latest version of the BMW M3 runs under the G80 code and is unmistakable thanks to that controversion front-end. This one has a twin-turbocharged inline 6 too but has 480 hp on tap. On paper this should be the fastest in this generational drag race, but will it be? Years back when the E90 M3 was launched we pitted one up against the E39 M5 to see how it would fare, thanks to both cars having a normally-aspirated V8 in play. The older M5 kicked the new one in the teeth time and again. So which one are you betting on in this race?

Take a look at the YouTube video from our favourite online reviewer, Mat Watson from Carwow, where he assembled all six generations of the iconic BMW M3 and pitted them against each other to see just how the car has evolved over the years, well in a straight line anyway: BMW M3 Generations DRAG RACE | carwow

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