An Efficient V8 Sport Coupe? The 2008 BMW M3 Delivers

No doubt it’s a sign of the times that even when unveiling a next-generation motorsport-based sport coupe with a new 420-horsepower V8 engine, the automaker still makes an effort to sneak a few energy-efficient components into the car’s makeup. So what’s the motivation behind this curious mix? Smart manufacturing techniques, or political brownie points? You be the judge.

The vehicle in question is the new BMW M3, which for the first time in its history is equipped with said V8 engine, a little 4.0-liter light-alloy powerhouse that borrows design elements from BMW’s Formula 1 race team engines, and is, in fact, about 30 pounds lighter than the V6 engine it replaces. In fact, a lot about the new M3 is high-tech and efficient. Take the brakes. They’re regenerative, meaning they actually generate electric power when the driver applies a foot to the brake pedal and engages the braking mechanism. The energy generated by the brakes is used to power the car’s on-board computer and charges the battery, conserving fuel, according to BMW.

BMW also notes that the 2008 M3 is the first production car in its segment with a roof made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (again, borrowed from the motorsport side), resulting in a lighter, more efficient and more agile vehicle with a lower center of gravity.

As far as that V8 engine is concerned, it’s powerful enough to drive the M3 from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (about 60 miles per hour) in just under 5 seconds, yet is efficient enough to get almost 23 miles to a gallon of gas. So in many ways, it’s the best of both worlds for power-loving drivers who also like to feel they’re doing their small part to conserve energy resources.

Technology aside, where the new M3 really excels is in its styling, with a “powerdome” hood, a new front end with large air intakes, a sweptback roofline, air intake gills in the front side panels, a discreet spoiler at the rear, dual tailpipes, flared wheel arches, and “tuning fork” high-performance 19-inch wheels.

Equipment and specifications for the U.S. models have not yet been finalized, and more information will be released as we get closer to the car’s U.S. introduction.