Hooniversal Opinion: 2021 G80 BMW M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe

In the world of luxury sports coupes and sedans, none is more iconic than those made by BMW. Forever the gentleman’s plaything that commutes comfortably and can tango when asked, each iteration of the famous cars has gone a step further, each pushing the boundary of what performance is capable from a vehicle you’re proud to arrive in at a business meeting. It’s not every day we get a new M car. The F80 generation went on sale in 2014 and, aside from some higher-performing versions, has remained largely unchanged since. It was met with lukewarm reviews, journalists raving over its numbers but feeling somewhat less enthusiastic about the way it drove. Over time it fell slightly into the background, overshadowed by newcomers and fire-breathers from all around. But now, BMW aims to eschew that notion. Now, there’s a new M car.

Say Hallo to the 2021 G80-Series BMW M3 and M4. We have known this was coming for quite a while now; it was only a matter of time, and now it’s here. The new BMW M-car’s appearance shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, what with the barrage of spy photos and teasers we’ve been subjected to over the last year or so. And the performance follows suit, improving upon the old formula while bringing it into the modern age. BMW claims it’s a major leap forward. On what merit?

First, the mechanicals. Base-trim cars get a six-speed manual transmission with auto rev-match, paired to the S58 twin-turbo straight-six (yes, the engine from the X3M/X4M). Power rings in at 473 hp and 406 lb-ft. Step up to the Competition package and it’s graced with the ever-loved ZF 8-speed automatic transmission (the sole gearbox) and a power bump to 503 hp and 479 lb-ft. Also available is all-wheel-drive, a system that sends all of the power to the rear wheels until it senses slip at which point some is sent to the front.

The other credentials are good: Electronic LSD at the rear, lightweight forged wheels (a staggered setup, 1” bigger all around on the Competition), and optional carbon-ceramic brakes. The tech suite is helped by the M Drive Professional package which boasts ten traction and stability control settings. This allows drivers to make the most of the car, whether they’re novices or pros. And yes, it has a drift mode.

The interior is akin to that of the comparable 3 and 4-Series models, sans the availability of any wood trim option. Optional carbon-backed seats save 21 pounds and have racing harness openings. Otherwise, it’s standard-issue BMW inside.

Of course, the appearance is the real news here. Massive openings at the nose are the ultimate version of the once-minimalist famous BMW-signature kidney grille. They stretch the entire height of the front end and steal the show, for better or worse. Wide fenders grace the corners and a big rear diffuser highlights the even-larger-than-before exhaust tips that sit squarely where we’ve come to expect. Above, the M-car’s famous carbon roof is present once again and echoes the grille’s character lines all the way to the back glass. While BMWs used to be sedate, this is nothing if not controversial. The front end steals the headlines and the show. Be sure to click through to our writers’ comments for our thoughts on the new looks, as our feelings were as polarizing as the car itself.

Pricing starts at just over $70k for the base M3 and just shy of $73k for the base M4. Competition models run just shy of $73k for the M3 and most of the way to $76k to the M4. It goes on sale in the spring and thankfully arrived online just in time to scare children this Halloween season.

What do we think about the all-new M3 and M4? Hold onto your butts… this opinion is about to get Hooniversal.

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As much as I wished and willed it to not happen, here we have it. It. Like I’m referring to some kind of monster. Weirdly, the more I look at it, the less bad it seems. But that isn’t saying much. It’s still bad. The nose, at least. The front quarter of the car (grille into the first portion of the hood) is simply heinous. No, I’m not saying anything groundbreaking in saying this. The interior doesn’t do it for me, either. Luckily you don’t have to look at the front end when you’re driving it. On that note, the seats look fantastic. Too bad the interior in the press photos is the color combo out of something like Playskool.

My biggest concern is the weight. Especially the AWD version. This will be nearly a ~4000 lb car loaded up, and that’s before the convertible arrives. For me, this just reaffirms that the M2 Comp is the best looking (and probably most fun) BMW in the current lineup.

I can’t not mention the “M Performance Parts” selection which is tacky and overdone, adding to an already-garish design. Some are fine; some are borderline offensive. The dive-planes will shave off what, a tenth of a second on an average-length track with a good driver behind the wheel? At most? All show, no substance. But, hey, you get to tell your friends about how much you spent on adding things to your M car to make it yours. It makes me cringe, but it’ll print BMW money.

BMW knows this is taking a chance. They’re betting on “any news is good news” rather than “taste and reservation like BMWs of yore.” Yet nobody I have shown the pictures of have thought fondly of its appearance. The grille on these cars will not age well. Whereas we hated heavily on the Bangle-designed cars in the moment, we now look back on them fondly. I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll look back on the G80 M3/M4’s design and shake our heads.

-Ross B

It’s always nice to see new M3 and M4’s arrive. 

Yes, the new front end design is polarising, but I am reserving my final call on if I like it or not until I see it in person. Photos don’t always do it the correct justice. I’m interested to see what it would be like to drive with the AWD system

-Joel S 

As I write this, I am literally contemplating the purchase of a 2016 F83 M4. It’s owned by a colleague and friend who has owned it since it was new, and she’s offering me a great deal. I’ve always been a fan of the M3/M4, but this would be my first ownership experience. So it is with great pain that I write this scathing hate letter to the new G80/G82 cars that were just unveiled. I thought long and hard, and the odd journey I’ll take you on below was the only scenario I could compare to this level of disappointment. 

I can only imagine that the new M3/M4 is like having a few too many drinks and meeting what you think is the perfect girl or guy in a bar. In your inebriated state, you can only see the good bits. It’s dark, but the rear end looks pretty great, it was the first thing you noticed from across the room. Usually is. Solid side profile as well, nice subtle curves. And if it’s what’s inside that matters, you know they have a great interior and amazing powertrain. You think you’ve got a chance so you take one last sip and head out onto the dance floor. After an amazing night out on the back roads, thankfully drivin’ with your eyes closed, you wake up and look around. 

Your bar hookup is still there, and as they roll over to greet you you finally notice it. They have the largest nostrils in the world. Everyone makes mistakes, you just won’t be in a long term relationship with this one. Hard pass.

-Will B.

I’ve proposed that Chris Bangle has something to blackmail BMW leadership to make the current designs look worse than his. It might be true. Did we just wander into conspiracy territory? Maybe. Spock said it best, “If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the solution.” This could be the reason the new designs look like they smashed a Honda Civic Type R with a modern Audi and the new BMWs are the result.

-Chris Tracy

I’m sure it’s wonderful to drive, but this is the Pontiac Aztek point for BMW. The front end here is comically hideous. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a rush to “refresh” this in short order. Or perhaps the hubris of BMW  will prevent that and the far sharper offerings from Audi and Mercedes-AMG will grab more of the market. Or maybe even Genesis will see some daylight in the sales race? 

Either way, this car looks like shit from the front. It’s really bad.

-Jeff G.

It doesn’t matter how fast it is, how nice it is, or how well it drifts in YouTuber car reviews. Nothing overshadows that godawful nose. I’ve covered a lot of controversial new car designs on this site over the years, but I can’t think of very many cars that were hated by the car community as unanimously as this one. Twitter replies, Reddit threads, Instagram comments, doesn’t matter – they’re all flooded with the same opinion that the grille is shit. Is BMW’s design team living in a bubble where they’re isolated from any form of public opinion? They HAD to know it was hated with this much passion. They either saw comments we didn’t or just don’t care.

Back when I was a BMW fanboy, any new M3 announcement was a huge deal. It was something to look forward to and celebrate. But any hype I once had was murdered when the leaks started leaking and the intent of BMW’s tasteless design team was stated loud and clear with the 4 Series nose. So instead of marveling over the performance capabilities and wondering how AWD works on the M3, I’m left feeling like I made the right choice to jump ship from BMW and into a Mustang. I won’t give any shits about this car until someone comes up with a body kit. Until then, I’ll be waiting for pics of the first M4 wreck so I can save it to my phone and pull it up any time I’m feeling sad and need my spirits lifted.

-Greg Kachadurian

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27 responses to “Hooniversal Opinion: 2021 G80 BMW M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    I ran across an article about the BMW Garmisch, a concept car designed by Marcello Gandini and recently re-created by BMW in honor of the designer. It’s a potential influence for that polarizing new grille. For some reason the car looks very French to me, but regardless, I think some historical concepts should remain buried in obscurity.

    https://s.aolcdn.com/dims-global/dims3/GLOB/legacy_thumbnail/1049×590/quality/80/https://s.blogcdn.com/slideshows/images/slides/758/445/1/S7584451/slug/l/bmw-garmisch-concept-1.jpg

    1. salguod Avatar

      I saw an article on this and it noted that in the case of the Gandini concept, the base car has an airy greenhouse and a generally clean and tidy design with some controversial details. The base of the new M3 / M4 is bulky and not at all elegant. Adding that nose wasn’t the only sin there.

      1. Zentropy Avatar

        Couldn’t agree more regarding the greenhouse. One of my biggest gripes about modern cars is the gun-slit windows and overall poor visibility. I’m sure part the high-sills treatment is for safety considerations, but regardless, it doesn’t look nearly as good from the outside nor feel as comfortable from the inside.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      That said, I wish hexagonal louvers had become a thing on more than just this and the concept that preceeded the Lamborghini Espada.

      1. Zentropy Avatar

        Not sure why the photo of the louvers above didn’t post here, but hopefully anyone reading will connect the dots.

      1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

        Oh, that is a nice looking car.

  2. salguod Avatar

    Well, the colors are nice anyway.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      Hmmm… nah. Hulk Green and Bile Yellow. Not a fan of either.

  3. fede Avatar

    I read somewhere that this new m3 is larger and wider than the e39 m5.
    I can’t understand why automakers make the models grow. the current 3 is the previous 5. and the 5 is the 7, and the 7 is something else, and the 8 is huge, so they add smaller new models to fill the void they themselves left, and now the 2 is what the 3 should be and was.

    Why not keep the sizes the same, and just add new an bigger models if that’s where they want to go? just to make current owners feel inadequate and try to get them to buy the new bigger and more expensive car? oh… ok.

    1. fede Avatar

      also, the front is ugly.

    2. Rover 1 Avatar

      BMW G80 length 4794 mm (188.7 in)
      width 1903 mm (74.9 in)

      BMW E39 length 4,775–4,805 mm (188.0–189.2 in)
      width 1,800 mm (70.9 in)

      BMW E23 length 4860 mm (191.3 in)
      width 1800 mm (70.9 in)

      BMW E3 length 4700-4801 mm (185-189 in)
      width 1750 mm (69.9 in)

      So the new 3 series is bigger than the 4th gen. 5 series, nearly as big as the first 7 series and bigger than the ‘original’ new gen. ‘big’ BMW.
      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3f/BMW_2800_at_Schaffen-Diest_2013.JPG/1920px-BMW_2800_at_Schaffen-Diest_2013.JPG

  4. Sjalabais Avatar

    It’s funny how one thing works, at least: Everybody talks about it. What other options does BMW have to stay relevant? Good product is one thing, but they might be past that – and the competition is strong. And Ross is correct, you’ll get used to an ugly face.

    I am obviously not a new car buyer, but if I wanted a sporty new car of good quality, I’d go for a Genesis (conservatively pretty) or Stinger (aggressive, but not heinous). BMW is not even on my mind, too boring, and a violent face might yank some with the same mindset back to Bavaria.

  5. Smaglik Avatar

    Not a fan of the front end…but I don’t think it’s as bad as the internet, including the Hooniversal staff, makes it out to be. It’s like any other internet bandwagon at this point. It’s more fun to piss on than anything else about the car.

    I’ll never buy this as a sedan or a coupe, but if it does actually make it to these shores as a touring, I’ll be putting one in my garage. I’ve been saving for a Land Cruiser for years (late model 200 series), but I’d put that and the M5 towards a wagon with this type of performance, and drive it until the wheels fall off (or 50k miles…whichever happens first! lol).

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      I personally find it pretty fugly, but not much worse than the nose of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the supposed beauty of which everyone literally gushes over.
      BMW can’t seem to find the sweet spot between not-unattractive-but-dull and more-interesting-but-ugly-as-hell. It’s not just the grille shape and size that bothers me– it’s the harsh, origami-like creases of car’s body in general. If you’re going to do angles or curves, you’ve got to do it sparingly. The M3 and M4 look like they’ve already been in minor accidents.

  6. neight428 Avatar

    Apparently, making a car that people will talk about is the 80/20 version of making a car people will talk about because it looks good. This is the downside of keeping design processes tightly under wraps, people get stuck in groupthink and can’t see that they just ruined their own product.

    OTOH – is that a crotch vent on the seat? In the swamp, that tugs at the heart strings as much as a pretty face would.

  7. outback_ute Avatar

    Golden opportunity for Alpina etc. No doubt the fake vents in the hood will be real in the GT3/GT4 race car, but until then they should give owners little model boats or bath toys to float on the water that will collect there when it rains.

  8. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    I will comment on the one thing no one else has yet: they’re calling this generation the G80? Did they not remember that’s the model name of one of their competitors?

  9. Vairship Avatar

    Front looks like a Chinese copy of a BMW, side is too busy forward of the b-pillar, interior is garish, and back end has a prolapsed ass (don’t google that). Other than that it’s nice, I guess?
    I love how they’re going all-out on making giant twin grilles their trademark at exactly the time that electric cars will make any grilles useless. Maybe you should have shrunk the kidneys to style-accent-size and focused on developing a new future-ready house style instead?

  10. crank_case Avatar

    What’s with the lump in the centre of the front of the fisher-price color scheme sports seats? Some sort of testicular cooling?

  11. wunno sev Avatar

    a lot of the exact words being said about these cars were said about Bangle’s E65 nearly 20 years ago. looking back, that car isn’t as offensive to my eyes as it was back then, and Bangle is directly responsible (especially with the E60 5-Series that followed the E65) for how cars look today.

    so it’s tempting to think that this will pass, and we’ll all be okay with it after some time. but what gets me is, the E65 still looks like a nightmare next to the E38 that preceded it. trendsetter? yes. good trend? i’m less convinced.

    BMW is the Apple of car companies. they are legit mavericks with the clout to give the people what they don’t know they want. they’re design trendsetters, for better or for worse, and they’re both aware of it. so we should expect them to be controversial, and we should be ready for the future to look like whatever BMW is doing today. it’s gonna be a long 20 years.

    1. wunno sev Avatar

      unrelated: that lump in the seats looks like an absolute nutsack smasher in an accident. safety in modern cars is very good and i’m sure it’s not a problem, but it’s all i’d be able to think about.

  12. Lokki Avatar

    I mentioned this ugliness to a friend and he gave me a pitying look and said, “You really don’t know why?” When I said I didn’t, he said, “Follow the money: China.”

  13. crank_case Avatar

    The aftermarket has an answer to that grille, it’s called tha Alpina B3, and it’s a Wagon, I’d have one over the ehhhmmM cars any day
    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/alpina/b3/first-drives/alpina-b3-touring-2020-uk-review

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