BMW E36 M3


The replacement for the original M3 first appeared at the 1992 Paris Auto Show. This E36 coupe model got the 3.0 L S50B30 straight-6 engine, which produced 286 hp (210 kW).

For the 1996 model year the M3 was upgraded to a new 3.2 L, 321 hp (236 kW) engine (S50B32), a six speed gearbox and the M5's larger brakes. The new SMG gearbox was also offered as an option. These models are often described as the "Euro" models to differentiate them from the models sold in North America, which were quite different. The 3.2 Euro is also known as the M3 "Evolution" or "Evo".

The first E36 M3 to be imported to the United States was the 1995 model, which received a 3.0 L engine with 240 hp (176 kW) and 305 N•m (225 ft·lbf) (S50B30US) and a different suspension. The reasoning behind the less powerful motor was largely due to both the projected excessive costs in producing the original engine for the U.S. market and the possible difficulty in getting the European engine to pass more strict U.S. emission laws. An M3 that was sold in the United States in 1995 was one of 2953 '94 models shipped from Europe. This coupe has a 3.0L 24-valve DOHC straight six-cylinder engine. This engine produces 240bhp at 6000rpm and 225lbs-foot of torque at 4250. BMW also produced somewhere between 120 and 125 M3 Lightweights (only 85 made it to the US), often called the CSL (for compact sports light). These were reduced weight versions of the model intended to be used on the street or on the track. It was about 200 to 300 pounds lighter than a stock M3 with many of the car's features removed, such as air conditioning, leather seats, and the sunroof.

The 1996-1999 model years had displacement bumped up to 3.2 L, with 240 hp (176 kW) and 320 N•m (236 ft·lbf) which is the same engine used in the early M Roadster and M Coupe. The 1996+ model is known for being more difficult to tune for performance, due to slightly smaller intake manifold runners and more complicated electronics (OBDII). It was also available as a sedan starting in model year 1997, and as convertible in 1998. Production of the sedan was halted in 1998, while the other models continued until 1999.

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E36 M3 Performance Data:

E36 M3 US & Europe: 1993 to 1997*
ModelEuro 3.0 M3US 3.0 M33.2 M3 EvoUS 3.2 M33.2 LTW
Quoted bhp286240321240240
0-30 mph (sec)
0-60 mph (sec) 5.66.4***
0-100 mph (sec) 13.516.0***12.015.514.0
0-120 mph (sec) 20.0N/A18.5N/AN/A
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 14.0 @ 101 14.6 @ 97 13.8 @ 104 14.5 @ 98 13.9 @ 100
Maximum mph 155**137158137137
Overall mpg24/26 Imp 24/25 US 23/25 Imp 22/24 US 21/23 US
Curb Weight (lbs/kg) 3,344/1,5203,230/1,4683,236/1,4713,170/1,4412,950/1,341
Bentley Publishers
*Average of independent magazine sources. US residents, multiply by 1.2 if you want to convert an Imperial mpg result into US mpg.
**Timed by Autocar at 162 mph with European (155mph limiter)
*** Car & Driver ran both their routine and extended (35,000) mile 3-liter M3s through their test procedures and returned much quicker results than most. The average figures quoted are fairer for the private buyer's expectations today, but for the record, C&D recorded 0–60 mph in 5.5 seconds in both sessions. They recorded 0–100 mph in 14.6 seconds and 14.2 seconds at 98- or 99-mph terminal speeds for the standing 1/4 miles. Car & Driver ran an automatic-transmission 3-liter M3 through the strip procedures and returned 0–30 mph in 2.6 seconds, 0–60 mph in 6.7 seconds, 0–100 mph in 17.1 seconds, and a 15.3-sec/95-mph ;-mile pass. Both top speed (137 mph) and average fuel consumption (24 US mpg) were reportedly unaffected. Curb weight was up 72 lbs, at a reported 3,304 lbs.

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