BMW joins sedan bat­tle

The M3 four-door pre­pares to take on its Benz ri­val, writes GOR­DON LO­MAS

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

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.

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