The 480-HP 2021 BMW M3 and M4 Will Have a Stick Shift and RWD

The base cars stay true to their roots, and the Competition models hit 510 hp.


The take rate for sedans is shrinking rapidly, just like the take rate for manuals and rear-wheel-drive. It would make sense, then, for BMW to give its new 2021 M3—which by nature must be a sedan—a slushbox and all-wheel-drive. Well, it did. But also, it didn't! While an automatic and AWD will be options, the base car will stick with the classic M3 formula of a manual transmission and RWD.

The new cars will keep their tried and true 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine, the S58. This engine is already seen in the M versions of BMWs small SUVs, but they've yet to make it into a true coupe/sedan. Like the previous generation M-derived straight-six, it sticks with two turbochargers to deliver over 400 horsepower, 480 in this case. 

But that 480 horsepower output isn't the whole story, thanks to the existence of the new M3/M4 competition. That's where the 8-speed automatic transmission comes into play along with a boosted output of 510 horsepower. The 8-speed will be the only option if you want the extra power of the Competition package, however, you'll still be able to have either rear or all-wheel-drive.

There are other details that should interest you as well, such as the aesthetics of the more aggressive M models. And when I say interest...well, it's not necessarily a positive one. That's because as well as offering the classic M add-ons like flared fenders, extra exhausts, and a big bulge in the hood, the new M3 sedan will apparently share its front fascia with the M4, pictured up top. This looked fine on the E90/E92 M3 which played the same trick, however, the grille on the E90 3-Series wasn't quite so... let's say, inclined to sniff as the larger grilles on the G22 4-Series.

Despite this unfortunate development concerning the M twin's aesthetics, we should all be excited nonetheless. The manual transmission is not-so-gradually disappearing from performance car options lists, and BMW has already—and perhaps appropriately—removed the option from the larger M5. Combine the available 6-speed with the fact that we won't be stuck with steering corrupted by an all-wheel-drive system, and I think we should be excited about the G80 M3/M4. We can't take cars like this for granted anymore.

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