The Only V-8 Powered BMW M3 Ever Made
The BMW E92 M3 will go down in history as the only V8 powered M3 and the last of the high-revving naturally aspirated M3 Engines. Yes its an amazing car.
With the future of electric engines, forced induced engines (i.e. turbos) and high fuel ratings, the BMW E92 M3 is considered the last of the true BMW M3. If you consider a true BMW M3 having hydraulic steering, balance chassis, high-revving naturally aspirated engines that is. The BMW M3 E92 has come in and out with a bang. BMW placed inside the engine for the 1st and probably the last time a high-revving V8 engine into the M3 platform. This engine is considered a true race engine and comes from the V-10 BMW engine placed inside the E60 M5. Just with two less valves and 80 less hp.
When the BMW E92 M3 first came to the USA shores in 2008 it was a revolution of the M3 heritage. Gone was the smooth inline-6. In came the V8. The car got bigger and unfortunately heavier (the true downfall of this model), and was the first generation with the full arsenal of M technology and do-dads that is now a bane for all future BMW M models.
The E92 platform was considered a world-class platform and the E92 M3 just accentuated the performance of the base platform itself. The full M treatment which is now a blueprint for all M models is highlighted in this model. In came the full body treatment and rear dual exhaust tips. Check. Side grilles for air-flow from the front-engine. Check. Full size dome on the hood with air ducts. Check. Beautiful Carbon-fiber roof to reduce top weight and to bring rigidity to the car. Check. Flared fenders. Check. M button on the steering wheel to save all car dynamic settings. Check. Controls to change the steering feel, dampers, shift speed on the Dual Clutch Transmission, and throttle response. Check.
The biggest issue was the weight. The E92 M3 came in at a whopping 3,700 lbs with the DCT transmission. This was 300 lbs heavier then the previous generation BMW E46 M3. While the hp was increased from 333 to 414 hp, the torque was slightly up from 270 to 295 lb-ft of torque. With the small bump in torque and dramatic weight increase, those power gains with the E92 M3 were negated compared to the E46 M3.
The E92 M3 became the highlight of its class and beat all other competitors in terms of performance, driving dynamics, chassis and handling.
BMW offered the E92 M3 as a coupe (E92), a sedan (E90) and as a convertible (E93). Note that the convertible came with a retractable metal roof – the first for the M3. The only issue with the retractable roof is the weight. It adds another 500 lbs to the already heavy E92 M3.
BMW just nailed the exterior looks of the BMW E92 M3. The car became more muscular in looks from the regular 3-series but carried a presence from the key exterior features added to the car from the base 3. Starting with the front, the E92 M3 received a ‘smiling’ grin front damper that brought a strong menace in the rear mirrors of other drivers. A powerful ‘bulge’ was added to the hood to make room for the beefy V8 underneath. Beautiful flared fenders were added to the front and back wheel arches, housing 18-inch or 19-inch OEM wheels. The now iconic BMW side mirrors taken from the E36 M3 was re-invented as well.
The roof for the coupe came with a carbon-fiber which lowers the weight (somewhat) but its beautiful to look at. Some cars came without the carbon-fiber roof and added a sunroof – which adds even more weight to the E92 M3.
At the back you had a different bumper that came with the iconic dual twin exhaust tips. Overall the BMW M3 E92 came with a great stance and presence on the street or on the track.
The Screaming S65 V8 Engine
The BMW E92 M3 came with 418 hp and 296 lb-ft of torque. The V8 engine known as the S65 could rev all the way to 8,400 rpms and you had to do it only because most of the torque came after 5,000 rpms. This car was meant to rev and rev all day. And the luxurious sound that came from the V8 engine and exhaust – are pure automotive heaven. The V8 sound by itself is one of the main reasons any true BMW fan should drive and own a E92 M3.
The engine was mated to either a race-ready dual clutch transmission (known as DCT) or a notchy 6-speed manual. The DCT in this generation actually works wonderfully. The shifts are smooth and fast – with the DCT settings you can control how fast or slow you would like the shifts to be. And if you are in rush hour traffic, just put the DCT into ‘drive’ model and it works just like any other transmission. Its leaps and bounds better then the previous E46 SMG transmission. The 6-speed is considered ok in the E92. Its like most BMW manuals, a bit notchy getting into gears but for some reason mated to the S65 engine, the 6-speed doesn’t work as well. Our opinion: the better bet to make in the E92 M3 is the DCT transmission. It works that well.
The biggest deficient with the engine would be the gas mileage. In a nutshell the E92 M3 is a gas-guzzler from the 20th century. With a high-revving engine, you’ll be lucky to get 15 mpg on the tank, and the tank is pretty small with a range of 250 miles. Refueling is a constant habit with the E92 M3.
Issues and What to Avoid
Like all M3 before it, the E92 has some issues. Here are the items to look for:
Rod-bearing. The rob bearings in a 8,400 rpm revving engine can turn. While not a big issue, its still something that is recommended to replace at 60,000 miles.
DCT Gearbox Lag. Some DCT cars will have an issue with lag after a certain amount of miles – like after 20,000 miles. The problem stems from the transmission and ECU learning over time how the driver drives the M3, soon a shifts start showing lags. A common fix is an software update from BMW dealers that will change the software on the DCT to improve the shifts.
Seat-belt extenders. The whole e92 model range (M3 and non-M3) uses these German over-engineered seat-belt motorized arms to hand the occupant the seat belt from the B-pillar. Unfortunately they are made of many plastic parts and can easily malfunctions or break. This is only in the coupe model.
Overall the E92 M3 is considered a robust generation. Materials on the E92 were pretty substantial and the magical S65 V8 engine is considered pretty solid – minus the rod bearings.
The E92 M3 leaves a great legacy to the whole M3 brand. Its the most unique M3 in many ways. The first and only one to have a V8 engine. The first to have the DCT dual-clutch transmission. A great transmission match with the V8 engine. The last M3 with the hydraulic steering – all future M3 cars will now have electric steering. And most importantly a M3 that was still driven by the old BMW M.O. – build the best M3 you can with the 3-series platform as the base. BMW didn’t make compromises with the E92 M3, they wanted to make the best sports car they could.
This is proven in the engine design, the handling of the car, the technology that really enhances the driver’s ability, and of course the DCT transmission.
BMW will never build a car like the E92 M3 again. That alone says alot of the future value of the car. But make no doubt about it – the BMW E92 M3 will go down as one of the best BMW sport cars ever made. Hear that engine alone and you’re never doubt that claim.
Click here to the see the BMW M3 E92 Video