How do the new BMWs compare with the last gen?

J.A.
By J.A. Ackley
Aug 2, 2023 | BMW, BMW M3, M3, BimmerWorld, M4, BMW M4 | Posted in Features | Never miss an article

Photography by J.A. Ackley

Sure, criticize their big kidneys. Mock their added weight. But there’s no disputing that the newer BMWs come with performance bonuses. How much of a difference do those make? We decided to put that to the test.

We enlisted James Clay, the championship-winning driver behind BMW parts house BimmerWorld. He’d take out three BMWs—a F80-chassis M3, G82-chassis M4 and, for good measure, BimmerWorld’s GTMore—at the BMW Performance Center test track in South Carolina.

Background

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We used the center’s smaller test track, one that measures roughly 3/8 of a mile and places more emphasis on the all-important handling over brute power. James would run the cars for roughly 5 laps each, for two rounds apiece. Here’s how they fared.

2018 BMW M3 CS (F80)

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  • Owned by Julie Wagener
  • S55 twin-turbocharged straight six
  • 425 horsepower, 3575 pounds
  • Best Time: 25.53 seconds

“The F80 still rips,” says James. “It’s a really good car. Both the F80 and G82 are fairly new cars, with modern technology. Suspension design is similar. The powertrain, even though it’s an older generation motor, has similar architecture as the new one. Both cars have a paddle shiftingthe F80 through a DCT and the G82 with the new gold standard, a ZF eight-speed automaticand both do what you want them to do and shift gears exactly right. They’re like an automated manual or a sequential you’d find in a race car. These cars are a pleasure to drive and an eye-opener on how good these couple of generations are.”

 

2023 BMW M4 Competition (G82)

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  • Provided by BMW
  • S58 twin-turbocharged straight six
  • 503 horsepower, 3880 pounds
  • Best Time: 25.31 seconds

“The track is challenging because it’s tight, and you get a car like this, and they’re bigger cars these days,” James says. “So, it tests that, which is the best part of this track. It’s amazing that something is relatively heavy, compared with race cars, was so nimble around here. It feels like it makes excellent power. The carbon ceramic brakes are phenomenal–they never faded. A lot of the improvements for the new generations come from the electronics, from the way the electronics handle the suspension and the traction control. The automatic in this car is every bit of a racing transmission, but without all the fussiness of a manual. Even with fast shifting, the manual doesn't outperform the automatic or outgoing DCT.

The BMW M carbon bucket seats impressed James, too.

“They are truly amazing at holding you in place,” says James. “Even though there are sport seats in the F80, with side bolsters, it’s nothing near to sitting in those carbon seats.”

James felt he could have even got more speed out of the G82.

“This is a BMW Performance Center car,” says James. “They let clients flog on it, instructors flog on it. When I looked at the tires, every tread was beveled. Tires do matter.”

 

BimmerWorld GTMore (F82)

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  • Owned by BimmerWorld
  • S55 twin-turbo-charged straight six
  • Highly modified, yet street-legal 2015 BMW M4, with 550 horsepower as tested, but can put out up to 800, depending on configuration
  • Best Time: 25.02 seconds

So, what’s it like to take out the GTMore on the small, 3/8-mile track?

[The Ultimate BMW M4 GT4: BimmerWorld's F82 GTMore]

“It’s wild,” says James. “It’s fun and rowdy. This tight track is not exactly what the GTMore is made for. With the power we’re putting down, the TC was almost always lit up. It’s hard to put the power to the ground, even with the large wheels and tires, and that’s really where it kills the speed.

“The GTMore almost didn’t feel faster. One, you’ve got race seats, you’ve got harnesses, so you’re all tucked in. Beyond that, on the tight track, it never had the opportunity to truly put that rubber to the road. It’s not a shocker that a tuned car is faster than its stock counterparts–that’s what we aspired to do at BimmerWorld. The tight track really highlights what makes these stock, OEM cars so good.”

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