What makes the E46 M3 unique?
The E46 M3 coupe and E46 M3 convertible are the high-performance versions of the standard E46 3 Series coupe and convertible. Developed by BMW M GmbH, they feature the 3.2-liter S54 inline-6 powerplant, as well as many specific chassis and cosmetic enhancements.
Where was the E46 M3 first introduced?
The E46 M3 was first shown to the public as a Design Study concept at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show. The final production version was then unveiled the following March at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show.
Where was the E46 M3 produced?
The E46 M3 was produced on the normal 3 Series production line at the Regensburg factory near Munich.
How many official versions of the E46 M3 were produced?
BMW produced eight official versions of the E46 M3: The standard M3 coupe and M3 convertible were offered in both ECE-spec (left-hand drive and right-hand drive) and North American-spec forms. In addition, the M3 CSL coupe was produced only to ECE (European) specification in both left-hand drive and right-hand drive configurations.
How many examples of the E46 M3 were produced?
ECE M3 coupe (LHD): 16,038 examples produced from 09/00 through 05/06
ECE M3 coupe (RHD): 12,510 examples produced from 02/01 through 05/06
NA M3 coupe (LHD): 26,202 examples produced from 02/01 through 05/06
ECE M3 convertible (LHD): 4,822 examples produced from 02/01 through 08/06
ECE M3 convertible (RHD): 7,234 examples produced from 04/01 through 08/06
NA M3 convertible (LHD): 17,577 examples produced from 03/01 through 08/06
ECE M3 CSL coupe (LHD): 825 examples produced from 5/03 through 12/03 (in addition to 18 pre-production examples)
ECE M3 CSL coupe (RHD): 536 examples produced from 6/03 through 12/03 (in addition to 10 pre-production examples)
What changes were made during the production of the E46 M3?
-SMG II gearbox introduced (9/01)
-Bi-Xenon headlights offered in place of previous Xenon units (9/01)
-Revised (optional) navigation/audio unit with larger (6.5-inch) monitor (9/01)
-Radio presets added to Car and Key Memory functions (9/01)
-Rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlight control standard in North America (9/01)
-Black High-Gloss interior trim replaced by Titan Shadow interior trim (9/01)
-In-dash CD player standard in North America (9/01)
-Strut brace added to front shock tower (3/02)
-19-inch forged alloy wheels offered as an option in North America (3/02)
-Brushed aluminum interior trim offered (9/02)
-DVD-based navigation system incorporating in-dash CD player replaces CD-ROM version (9/02)
-LED adaptive taillights introduced (3/03)
-Revised automatic climate control panel introduced (3/03)
-Mystic Blue metallic replaces Topaz Blue metallic (3/03)
-Silver Grey metallic replaces Steel Grey metallic (3/03)
-BMW Assist and Bluetooth phone interface introduced (9/03)
-Laguna Seca Blue and Oxford Green metallic paints discontinued (9/04)
-M3 coupe suspension revised to reduce understeer (12/04)
-Competition Package (ZCP) introduced to M3 coupe for North America only (12/04)
-Phoenix Yellow metallic paint discontinued (3/05)
-Competition Package (known as the M3 CS in the UK) offered outside North America (9/05)
-Impulse cloth/Nappa leather interior discontinued (9/05)
What is the E46 M3 Competition Package?
The E46 M3 Competition Package, known by the internal designation "ZCP", was initially offered in December of 2004 as an exclusive option for the North American market. It was then expanded to other markets beginning with September 2005 production. Available only on the M3 coupe, the option package consisted of the following equipment (most of which is derived from that of the limited-production M3 CSL):
-Cross-drilled brake rotors
(enlarged to 13.7 inches in front) with two-piece compound rotors (aluminum hat and outer portion connected by steel pins)
-Steering ratio reduced to 14.5:1
-M Track Mode setting for Dynamic Stability Control (raises—but does not eliminate—the threshold at which the DSC intervenes)
-19-inch cross-spoke alloy wheels (8x19-inch front, 9.5x19-inch rear)
-Alcantara-wrapped M three-spoke steering wheel with M Track Mode activation button (audio and cruise control buttons deleted)
-Specific aluminum interior trim with milled effect
-Exclusive Interlagos Blue metallic (A30) paint option
What is the E46 M3 CS?
The right-hand drive version of the E46 M3 coupe with the Competition Package sold in the United Kingdom was officially given the "M3 CS" designation. However, this model does not contain "M3 CS" badging of any kind, nor does it differ from its left-hand drive "ZCP" counterpart in any significant way.
How many examples of the M3 "ZCP"/M3 CS were produced?
BMW has not disclosed how many examples of the M3 with Competition Package (ZCP)/M3 CS were produced.
What makes the S54 powerplant unique?
The S54 engine used in the E46 M3 is the ultimate and final evolution of the iron-block S50 inline-6 that powered the European-spec versions of the E36 M3. Though derived from the 3.2-liter S50 B32 unit, the S54 features the following enhancements:
-Increased cylinder bore to 87mm (from 86.1mm) for a new total displacement of 3,246cc
-High pressure Double VANOS continuously variable valve timing system with faster operation at high rpm
-Increased compression to 11.5:1 (from 11.3:1)
-Advanced BMW/Siemens MSS 54 engine management control
-Electronic throttle activation with two M Dynamic Driving Control response modes
-Finger-type rocker arms for reduced reciprocating mass and friction
-One-piece aluminum head casting for lighter weight
-Scavenging oil pump to maintain pressure during heavy cornering
The S54 engine in the E46 M3 is rated at 343 hp (DIN) or 333 hp (SAE) at 7,900 rpm and 262 lb/ft of torque at 4,900 rpm.
What type of transmission is used in the E46 M3?
The E46 M3 utilizes a Getrag Type D six-speed manual gearbox with the following ratios: 4.23 (1), 2.53 (2), 1.67 (3), 1.23 (4), 1.00 (5), 0.83 (6). This is mated to a 3.62:1 final drive with M Variable Differential Lock.
Beginning with 09/01 production, the E46 M3 was also offered with the second-generation Sequential M Gearbox (SMG II). Using the unaltered internal gears and ratios of the Getrag Type D manual gearbox, SMG II provides automatic operation of the clutch and engagement of each gear via an electrohydraulic system operated by Drivelogic, the electronic gearbox software. SMG II offers 11 driver-adjustable programs, six in "sequential" (driver-operated) mode and five in "automated" (computer-controlled) mode. In addition, there is also a Launch Control function that provides optimized shifting times for maximum acceleration.
Does the E46 M3 feature electronic stability control?
The E46 M3 is equipped with a special version of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) developed by Teves specifically for the E46 M3. It can reduce power and/or brake each wheel individually to help maintain traction and control oversteer. The DSC can also be disabled completely via a dash-mounted switch. In addition, the M3 CSL and the M3 ZCP/CS models are further equipped with M Track Mode, a switchable setting that allows for some oversteer and wheelspin by raising the threshold at which the DSC intervenes.
What is the M Differential Lock and how does it work?
The M Differential Lock, fitted as standard equipment to every E46 M3, is an advanced version of the traditional limited slip differnetial. Though still entirely mechanical in operation, the M Differential Lock is activated when there is a difference in rotational speed between the two rear wheels. This difference pressurizes a viscous silicon fluid, which then operates a multi-disc clutch that directs more power to the wheel with the greatest traction.
How is the North American version of the E46 M3 mechanically different to the European-spec model?
Unlike the E36 M3, which was equipped with a unique engine configuration for North America, all E46 M3s sold worldwide are powered by the same S54 powerplant and only differ mechanically in minor ways. The most significant difference is that the catalysts are located slightly closer to the engine block on North American-spec models, thus increasing their ability to quickly heat up and therefore minimize cold-start emissions. This accounts for the slight reduction in peak horsepower (approximately 5 hp when compared under comparable ratings standards).
How does the suspension of the E46 M3 differ from that of the regular E46 3 Series?
The E46 M3 utilizes the same basic MacPherson strut/multi-link suspension design as the standard E46 3 Series. However, it has been substantially modified by BMW M GmbH with the following changes:
-Wider track both front (by 3.4-in.) and rear (by 1.8-in.)
-Unique "bat wing"-shaped forged aluminum lower control arms with M3-specific bearings, bushings and cushions
-Thicker (3mm) aluminum thrust plate
-Special wheel bearings
-More robust subframe from E46 convertible
-Separate mounting of top spring and shock anchor points
-Modified rear suspension links with steel balljoints (instead of rubber bushings)
-Larger halfshafts and wheel carriers
-Unique spring and shock rates
-Larger anti-roll bars (26mm front, 21.5mm rear)
What size brakes are used by the E46 M3?
The standard E46 M3 is equipped with four-wheel vented discs measuring 12.8-inches in front and 12.9-inches in the rear. With the exception of U.S.-spec M3 models, the brakes also feature cross-drilled rotors and a two-piece "compound" design whereby the aluminum hat is connected to the outer portion of the rotor via steel pins, which greatly reduces rotor deformation under havy braking conditions.
All M3 CSL and M3 ZCP/CS models sold worldwide are fitted with larger 13.7-inch front brake rotors that are also cross-drilled and incorporate the two-piece compound construction. The rear rotors are the standard 12.9-inch cross-drilled items.
How does the steering system of the E46 M3 differ from that of the regular E46 3 Series?
Like all E46 3 Series, the E46 M3 utilizes a rack-and-pinion steering design with engine-speed-sensitive variable power assist. However, the system has been modified with special knuckles and a slower overall ratio of 15.4:1 (versus 13.7:1 in the standard E46 3 Series). A slightly quicker 14.5:1 steering rack is used in the M3 CSL and M3 ZCP/CS models.
What are the factory wheel and tire sizes for the E46 M3?
The standard E46 M3 wheel is an 18-inch M Double Spoke II cast-alloy design with a Satin Chrome finish. These measure 8x18-inches in the front and 9x18-inches in the rear, with 225/45ZR18 and 255/40ZR18 tires (respectively). Forged 19-inch M Double Spoke II wheels (also in a Satin Chrome finish) were offered as an option in most markets. These measure 8x19-inch in front and 9.5x19-inch in the rear, with 225/40ZR19 and 255/35ZR19 tires (respectively). A cross-spoke cast-alloy wheel (in identical 8x19-inch/9.5x19-inch sizes) was fitted to M3 ZCP and M3 CS models. Finally, the M3 CSL was offered with either the regular 19-inch forged M Double Spoke II wheel or a unique cross-spoke design (similar but not identical to that of the M3 ZCP and M3 CS), measuring 8.5x19-inches in front and 9.5x19-inches in the back. These were always paired to track-ready Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, sized 235/35ZR19 (front) and 265/30ZR19 (rear).
How does the exterior of the E46 M3 differ cosmetically from that of the regular E46 3 Series?
Though not quite as radical as the original E30 M3, the exterior of the E46 M3 is significantly altered compared to the standard E46 coupe and convertible. Both the front and rear fenders are wider by nearly one inch. Furthermore, the front fenders incorporate unique side grilles that recall those fitted to the E9 coupes of the late 1960s/early 1970s.The side moldings are also unique to the M3 and integrate with the side-marker turn signals. In addition, the aluminum hood features a raised "power dome" in the center and incorporates wider front "kidney" grilles. Further differentiators include more agressive front fascia and rear valance (the latter designed to accomodate the quad exhaust tips), plus aerodynamic rear-view mirror housings. All E46 M3s are fitted with clear turn signal lenses all around.
How does the interior of the E46 M3 differ from that of the regular E46 3 Series?
The interior of the E46 M3 shares its basic design and construction with that of the regular E46 coupes and convertibles. However, it contains the following special features:
-M Design front sport seats with available power side bolster width adjustment (coupe only)
-Unique Nappa leather/Impluse cloth (coupe only), Nappa leather/M Alcantara (coupe only), Nappa leather or Extended Nappa leather (not for North America) upholstery selections
-Unique interior trim (high-gloss black, Titan Shadow, Aluminum or Eucalyptus Malt wood)
-Anthracite headliner (coupe only)
-M three-spoke leather steering wheel with tri-color stitching
-Illumintaed M leather shift knob with one-piece boot (manual only)
-M instrumentation with grey faces, red needles, 300-kph/180-mph speedometer, oil temperature gauge and variable LED redline on the tachometer
-Door sill plates with the "M3" logo
Did BMW M produce any special versions of the E46 M3?
BMW M GmbH produced two highly-specialized editions of the E46 M3 coupe, the M3 GTR and M3 CSL. (Unlike the M3 CSL, the M3 GTR was created strictly as a homologation model for American Le Mans Series racing, and therefore only the very minimum required by ALMS regulations were produced. When the competition model was ultimately banned by the ALMS, it is believed that all of the existing road cars were returned to BMW in Munich.) In addition, BMW Great Britain produced a limited edition of the standard E46 M3 coupe with special BMW Individual paint and interior trim.
What is the E46 M3 GTR?
The E46 M3 GTR is a special competition-based version of E46 M3 that was designed to compete in the American Le Mans Series. Changes to the ALMS regulations ultimately rendered the model ineligible for competition, though not before a small number of street-legal iterations were produced in early 2002 in order to satisfy the original ALMS rules (which stated that an equivalent street version had to be offered to the public on at least two continents within 12 months).
Approximately five examples of the E46 M3 GTR street version are thought to have been produced. Each was converted from a standard E46 M3 production model (and thus were included within the standard E46 M3 VIN sequence) and priced at 250,000 Euros. Most (if not all) were painted Titanium Silver metallic (354).
Essentially a thinly-veiled race car, the road-going E46 M3 GTR differs greatly from the standard production E46 M3. Instead of the usual 3.2-liter S54 inline-six, the M3 GTR is powered by a compact 90-degree V8 with aluminum block and heads. Displacing 3,997-cc, the dry-sump motor produces 380 hp (DIN) at 7,000 rpm and 288 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm in road trim. Power is transferred via the Getrag six-speed manual gearbox and M Differential Lock from the regular E46 M3. The chassis benefits from a wider track and more aggressive spring/shock rates, though the steering rack, 12.8-inch cross-drilled vented disc brakes with compound calipers and forged 19-inch M Double Spoke II alloy wheels carry over unaltered from the regular E46 M3. BMW claims the 2,976-pound (dry) E46 M3 GTR can accelerate from rest to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds.
The bodywork of the M3 GTR features a much more aggressive front fascia and rear valance, both made of lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (GFP). The entire roof, large fixed rear spoiler and smaller rear spoiler lip are also constructed of GFP. Finally the aluminum hood contains two louvered cooling ducts. The interior retains the standard E46 M3 dashboard, instruments and steering wheel (without the audio system or cruise control switches), though the rear seats have been deleted and heavily-bolstered manual front racing seats covered in black cloth or leather replace the heavier M3 items There are also special "cube-effect" interior trim and unique door sill plates with the "M3 GTR" insignia.
What is the E46 M3 CSL?
The E46 M3 CSL is a special variation of the standard E46 M3 coupe that features numerous lightweight components, as well as a myriad of drivetrain, chassis and cosmetic enhancements. The "CSL" moniker denotes "Coupe Sport Lightweight" and was first used on the 3.0 CSL homologation special in 1971. A total of 1,358 E46 M3 CSLs were produced to European specification between June and December of 2003 in both left-hand drive (823 built) and right-hand drive (535 built) configuration. (This figure excludes an additional series of at least a dozen pre-production M3 CSL prototypes built between September of 2002 and February of 2003.
The E46 M3 CSL is most notably distinguished from the standard E46 M3 by its various lightweight components. The largest of these is the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (GFP) roof panel, which weighs over 13 pounds less than its conventional steel counterpart. The front bumper support is also constructed of GFP, as is the uniquely-shaped front airdam with its single intake on the left-hand side. At the rear, the lower rear valance panel is made of GFP, while the reshaped trunk lid is made of SMC (sheet molding compound). Fiberglass-reinforced plastic is used for the rear bumper supports and this material is also "sandwiched" with thermoplastics and foam to create the trunk floor and rear bulkhead. As a final weight-saving measure, the rear window glass is extra thin. BMW claimed that the M3 CSL weighed 3,054 pounds, or roughly 10 percent less than the normal model.
The E46 M3 CSL is powered by a modified version of the usual 3,246-cc S54 inline-six that lacks a conventional mass airflow meter. Instead, the air draw is determined directly by the DME for quicker calculations. There is also a more efficient air intake system made largely of GFP and routed through larger manifolds to the circular opening in the front airdam. Further changes include modified camshafts and exhaust valves, plus a lightweight exhaust system constructed of thinner steel. The CSL-spec engine is rated at 360 hp (DIN) at 7,900 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm.
The M3 CSL is equipped exclusively with the SMG II transmission featuring a special launch control mode that automatically shifts at the optimum point for maximum acceleration. This is mated to the standard E46 M3 final drive and M Differential Lock. Finally, the DSC system of the M3 CSL can be switched to M Track Mode via the steering wheel-mounted button. This raises the threshold at which the system intervenes to allow for some degree of wheelspin.
The suspension of the M3 CSL is based closely upon that of the standard E46 M3. However, it does incorporate a number of changes, including front coil springs that are shorter by one winding, different spring and shock rates (for both rebound and compression), plus larger anti-roll bars in the front (30.8 mm) and rear (22.5 mm). In addition, the normal aluminum front control arms (shared with the standard E46 M3) are joined by aluminum rear suspension links with stiffer ball bushings. Rounding out the chassis upgrades are a quicker steering rack (overall ratio: 14.5:1) and larger 13.7-inch cross-drilled front brake rotors. Finally, the M3 CSL rides on lightweight cross-spoke alloy wheels measuring 8.5x19-inches in front (0.5 inches wider than the normal M3) and 9.5x19-inches in the rear. These are shod with special Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires sized 235/35ZR19 (front) and 265/30ZR19 (rear). (Conventional tires mounted to the 19-inch forged M Double Spoke II wheels from the standard E46 M3 were also offered as a no-cost alternative.)
In addition to the aforementioned lightweight body components and unique wheels, the exterior of the E46 M3 CSL is further distinguished by a special "CSL" insert in place of the usual "M3" model designation within the decorative intake grilles on either fender. In addition, there is an "M3 CSL" badge on the trunk lid. Exterior colors were limited to Silver Grey metallic (A08) and Black Sapphire metallic (475).
Though the interior of the M3 CSL retains the standard E46 M3 dashboard (with Titan Shadow trim), instruments and general controls, it differs significantly in most other areas. The minimal door panels are constructed of lightweight GFP and lack the usual side airbags. Likewise, the center console surrounding the parking brake is also made of GFP and contains the power mirror switch that normally resides on the driver-side door. The deeply-bolstered front seats (similar to those found in the M3 GTR) have GFP backings and are upholstered in a combination of Anthracite "Reflex" cloth and Amaretta (synthetic suede). The two special individually-shaped rear seats are also covered in the same materials. The Alcantara-wrapped M three-spoke steering wheel contains only the M Track Mode switch in place of the usual audio and cruise control buttons. The parking brake handle is similarly fashioned from Alcantara and both door sills contain unique trim plates.
In keeping with the lightweight, driver-focused manner of the M3 CSL, the interior could be specified without climate control or a radio, though both could be added at no additional cost. Cost options for the M3 CSL included bi-Xenon headlights, headlight washers, Park Distance Control, rain sensor, alarm, floor mats and various cassette/CD/mini-disc audio systems.
What is an E46 M3 "Silverstone Edition"?
A limited edition of 50 E46 M3 coupes with BMW Individual paint and interior trim were quietly produced for the UK market during late 2004. Available with either the six-speed manual or six-speed SMG II transmissions, they all received Silverstone metallic (425) paintwork paired to a Dark Estoril Blue extended Nappa leather interior, including the gearshift knob/boot and parking brake boot. The interior was additionally equipped with silver Aluminum Cube trim and black floor mats with Dark Estoril Blue leather edges. A generous amount of regular series options were also included, such as the Harmon/Kardon audio system, satellite navigation with TV function, 19-inch forged M Double Spoke alloy wheels, Park Distance Control and bi-Xenon headlights with washers.
Information from BMW M Registry