The E46 M3, first introduced in October 2000, appeared worldwide with the new 3.2 LS54 M-tuned engine. At the time of the car's introduction, this engine had the highest specific output naturally aspirated engine ever made by BMW (except in the McLaren F1), producing 343 horsepower (256 kW) and 365 N·m (269 lb·ft). It was only available in coupe and convertible bodies as the saloon version was dropped.
The E46 M3 was offered with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, but optionally came with a SMG drivelogic transmission (also known as the SMG II). This is the standard 6-speed Getrag transmission with an electrohydraulically actuated clutch pedal. Shifts are made via the SMG gear knob or the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The engine had a redline of 8,000 rpm. As with most M engines, the S54 again had 6 independent throttle bodies and this time electronically operated throttles (drive-by-wire throttle with no cable).
In the U.S., the E46 M3 came with similar engine output as the European version, unlike in the E36, whose engine was derived from the M50/52 series engine. Power was now at 333 bhp (248 kW; 338 PS) due to close-coupled catalytic converters closer to the engine exhaust ports. In 2009, Road and Track magazine announced the 2006 M3 with the SMG transmission as its favorite sports car of all time.
The M3's S54 naturally aspirated engine produces 343 PS (252 kW; 338 hp) / 3.2-litre.
- 343 PS (252 kW; 338 hp) @ 7900 rpm
- Torque: 365 N·m (269 lb·ft) @ 4900 rpm
- 0-100 km/h (62 mph) — 5.1 s for manual and SMG, 5.5 s for cabriolet
- 1/4 Mile — 13.3 s @ 104 mph (167.4 km/h)
- Top Speed: 155 mph (249 km/h)(electronically limited); 191.38 mph (308.00 km/h) (delimited)
- Skid Pad: 0.89 g
- 333 hp (248 kW; 338 PS)
- Torque: 262 lb·ft (355 N·m)
- 0-100 km/h (62 mph) — 4.8 s for manual and SMG, 5.6 s for cabriolet
- 4.5 s is reported for E46 M3 manual transmission via independent magazine.
- 0–60 mph — 5.1 s for cabriolet as measured by Car and Driver magazine
- 1/4 mile – Coupe: 13.0 s @ 104 mph (167 km/h),convertible: 13.7 s @ 104 mph (167 km/h)
- Top speed – Coupe: 155 mph (249 km/h) (electronically limited),170 mph (270 km/h) (delimited)
- Skid pad – Coupe: 0.89 g, convertible: 0.81 g
E46 special models
There were three models of E46 M3s produced: Model M3 (Sport, Winter, Competition), the M3 CSL, and the M3 GTR V8 (limited production).
An E46 GTR came to life on February 2001, powered by the P60B40 a 3,997 cc V8 producing 493 hp (368 kW; 500 PS). Unlike the straight-six powered M3 versions, which were outpaced by the Porsche 996 GT3, the racing version of the E46 M3 GTR 16 was very successful in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), entered by Schnitzer Motorsport.
Rivals such as Porsche pointed out that this car was more of a prototype as no V8 engine was available in the road-going BMW E46, which is in violation of the spirit of Gran Turismo. In 2001, ALMS regulations stated that cars must be for sale on two continents within twelve months of the rules being issued. To fulfill this rule, BMW put 10 road going GTRs on sale after the 2001 season, for 250,000 euros (then $218,000) each.
The ALMS rules were altered for 2002 to state that 100 cars and 1,000 engines must be built for the car to qualify without penalties. Although BMW could have raced the V8 with the new weight and power penalties under these new regulations, they chose to pull out of the ALMS, effectively ending the short-lived M3 GTR's career.
Two Schnitzer Motorsport GTR cars saw a comeback in 2003 at the 24 Hours Nürburgring, winning 1–2 in 2004 and 2005, as well as entries in the 24 Hours Spa. Onboard coverage recorded in 2004 Hans-Joachim Stuck, Pedro Lamy, Jörg Müller and Dirk Müller on the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps.
Private teams (Scheid, Getrag, etc.) also have fit 3,997 cc BMW V8 engines into the E46 body to race on the Nürburgring, winning some VLN races in the last years.
The car is widely known to be potrayed as the main character's car in Need For Speed: Most Wanted and Need For Speed: Carbongames.
The BMW M3 CSL (Coupé Sport Leichtbau) was a limited edition version of the M3, with only 1,400 cars being produced for its 2004 model year run.The CSL was never released into the North American market, and was only available in two colours – Silver Grey Metallic and Black Sapphire Metallic.
As its name suggests, an emphasis was put on reducing weight. The M3 CSL has a curb weight of 1,385 kg (3,050 lb), 110 kg (240 lb) lighter than the regular M3.The CSL features many weight saving technologies taken from BMW's Formula One racing applications. A large proportion of the M3's sound insulation has been removed, electric seats, and navigation systems. Air conditioning and stereo systems could be retrofitted free of cost, but were not available standard. The CSL's unique body pieces are all crafted from carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Glass-reinforced plastics are used throughout structural points in the car. The standard rear window was replaced with one made from thinner glass. Although the CSL loses a considerable amount of curb weight from its original version, the focus was put on strategically reducing or moving the weight in the car rather than the raw amount of weight that could be lost. This is to retain the ideal 50:50 weight distribution characteristics the E46 has. For example, the roof is constructed from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. While this only reduces the curb weight of the car by 7 kg (15 lb), it lowers the center of gravity of the car and decreases body flex.
In order to improve the handling ability of the car, the entire suspension system was further refined. Specially developed racing springs and dampers are given to the CSL, and a tightened steering ratio (14.5:1 vs 15.4:1 on the regular M3) improves responsiveness. The braking system is also modified, with larger front and rear floating rotors and calipersfrom the E39 M5. The CSL is given a retuned dynamic stability control system with a "M track mode" setting that allows the car to be pushed to its absolute limits before being activated.
The 3.2 L engine used in the M3, the BMW S54, has been modified to increased output by 17 hp (13 kW) and 5 N·m (1 lbf) over the European M3. This is achieved through a high flow carbon fiber air intake, modified valve and camshaft timing, and a retuned DME. However, the engine is further modified in order to reduce weight – it features a lightweight exhaust manifold and thinner exhaust piping. Additionally, the intake and exhaust manifolds are slightly straightened to improve engine responsiveness.
The CSL also has various aesthetic modifications over the standard M3. It received an aerodynamic lightweight body kit which included carbon fiber front splitters that improved downforce at high speeds by 50%, as well as a carbon fiber rear diffuser. The front bumper has a distinct hole that is used to draw cool air into the newly designed air intake. The trunk floor is made of lightweight fiberboard. The trunk lid is redesigned to incorporate a raised lip, unlike the standard M3 where one is simply added onto a flat trunk. The CSL was sold with distinct 19-inch lightweight cast BBS alloy rims that came with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup semi-slick racing tires.The interior of the CSL is redesigned with a sporty-weight saving theme. The CSL obtains fiberglass front racing bucket seats, and fiberglass backed rear seats. The center console, door panels and trim, and headliner are all formed from carbon fiber, and the steering wheel is redesigned with cruise control, stereo, and phone controls removed to include just a single button that activates the M track mode.
Unlike the standard M3, which was offered with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, or optionally a SMG drivelogic transmission (also known as the SMG II), the CSL was offered only with the SMG II transmission.This is the standard 6-speed Getrag transmission with an electrohydraulically actuated clutch pedal, similar to a Formula One style transmission. However, the CSL received a more advanced drivelogic unit than the standard M3 that was capable of making shifts in 0.08 of a second.
M3 Competition Package
While it is known as the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the US and mainland Europe, it is also known as the M3 CS (Club Sport) in the UK.
Although the M3 CSL was never exported to the United States, for 2005 BMW introduced an M3 Competition Package in both Europe and the US (a.k.a. CS/Club Sport in the UK): a $4,000 option which offered a number of upgrades taken from M3 CSL. The package includes:
- 19-inch BBS spin-cast (flow formed) alloy wheels (marketed as "forged"); 19"x8"front, 19"x9.5"rear: weigh 26 lb (12 kg).
- Specially tuned spring rates for the Competition Package; this was carried over to all M3 production from 12/04 on.
- CSL steering rack: More direct steering ratio of 14.5:1 (vs. standard M3's 15.4:1)
- CSL's M-Track Mode DSC with a button mounted on the steering wheel (deletion of cruise control and steering wheel mounted radio/phone controls)
- CSL's Compound cross-drilled rotors; larger front rotor of 13.6 inches (from 12.6 inches) with black painted calipers
- Alcantara steering wheel and hand brake
- Interlagos Blue exterior paint available as an exclusive colour option.
- Unique cube aluminum interior trim