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3-litre to 4-litre
  BMW 4-litre V8

“This engine combines an other-worldly mix of refinement and quick-rev response” Peter Nunn, international freelance journalist


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Image: - Mr Bernd Eberle, Project Manager, M Engines

It’s been a triumphant couple of months for BMW V8s. The M3’s S65 powerplant has once again won its class at the International Engine of the Year Awards, just a matter of weeks after its close relation, the motorsport-specific P65, brought the M3 GT2 home in first place at the gruelling Nürburgring 24 hours.

Just like in that race at the ‘Green Hell’, the BMW has fought off a strong Porsche challenge to take the title. This latest Award is the third straight category win for the M3’s wet-sump, 4-litre motor, which is equipped with a quad-VANOS variable timing system. Operated from engine oil pressure, this technology provides continuous adjustability of all four cams.

The unit tips the scales at 202kg: lighter, and more than 30mm shorter than the legendary straightsix engine it replaced. Further technical highlights include an alternator that disconnects from the engine during acceleration to maximise power, only charging the battery during braking whenever possible, in a system BMW calls Brake Energy Regeneration.

The engine features a separate throttle butterfly for each cylinder, with two stepper motors operating them on each row of cylinders. This gives the BMW M engine a particularly sensitive response at low speeds together with an immediate reaction whenever the driver presses the accelerator. The prodigious power output – 420bhp at 8,250rpm – is carefully managed by a Cosworth Pectel SQ6M ECU.

It’s that scintillating performance that had the judges purring. “One of the most involving engines, bar none,” enthused Dave VanderWerp of Car and Driver. Customers will soon be able to get their hands on a further creation of the V8 in the forthcoming M3 GTS. In this orangeonly, lightweight special, the motor will be stroked from 75.2mm to 82mm to deliver a capacity increase to 4.4-litres and 30 additional horsepower.


1. BMW 4-litre V8 (M3) 267
2. Porsche 3.8-litre flat six (GT3, 911 GT3 RS) 179
3. Nissan 3.8-litre Twin Turbo (GT-R) 156
4. Porsche 3.6-litre Turbo (911 Turbo, 911 S Turbo GT2) 150
5. Porsche 3.8-litre flat six DI (911) 119
6. Porsche 3.4-litre flat six DI (Boxster, Boxster Spyder, Cayman S) 89


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