BMW joins sedan battle
The M3 four-door prepares to take on its Benz rival, writes GORDON LOMAS
THE German sedan supercar fight will reach another level in November when BMW lands its M3 four-door sedan. Stung by the price and performance of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, which has set a new benchmark despite the strengths of the M3 coupe, BMW Australia has been working hard to get the sedan.
It will be the first time the M3 sedan has been sold in Australia, though BMW has run the M3 coupe and convertible in the past and has them in local showrooms as part of its 2008 line-up.
It will not directly admit it needs the M3 sedan to combat the keenly priced C63, which sells in Australia for $139,500.
But the M3 sedan will cost about $140,000, $17,000 cheaper than its coupe brother.
‘‘We always intended to bring in the sedan,’’ BMW Australia spokesman Toni Andreevski says.
‘‘The entry of the C63 gave us more information on the state of the market. Obviously, we think there is volume there.’’
Andreevski says the delay on a decision in favour of the four-door M3 was more to do with timing the arrival to fit with the mid-life updates to the 3-Series range.
‘‘If we’d brought it in any earlier it would have been on sale for only a few months before needing to be updated,’’ he says.
BMW believes data gathered on prospective sales points to a comfortable total of 100 cars for next year.
‘‘If there were not 100 potential sales the car would not be coming,’’ Andreevski says.
There is a groundswell of support in the segment for a four-door, given the AMG’s existence at what is considered a bargain price and the Audi RS4’s ($164,500) ability several seasons ago to stir up the compact performance end of the market.
The M3 sedan will gain cosmetic body updates and some underbody modifications along with the rest of the garden-variety 3-Series range.
It has the ability to challenge the two-door M3’s time-honoured ability to win sales, but BMW insists the sedan is not yet ready to challenge for volume leadership.
‘‘But we would be happy to be proven wrong,’’ Andreevski says.
The M3 sedan was caught having final development tests at BMW’s hi-tech winter testing ground deep in the Arctic Circle early last year, together with the 2009 model 7-Series, Z4 roadster and the X6.
Australia’s allocation will start from September production in Munich. The four-door also gains the latest M-spec double clutch transmission fitted to the M3 coupe this month.
Price fight: the BMW M3 sedan will cost about $140,000.