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BMW M3 GTS Coupe

Click to view picture gallery“The 189mph M3 GTS Coupe is
 
a very rare beast just 150
  are being built to celebrate the M3’s
  25th anniversary. And of those,
  only fifteen
are coming to the UK...


FIRST, LET'S RUN OVER THE NUMBERS that fourteen lucky UK customers (of the 15 GTS Coupes allocated to the UK, 14 are already sold) know by heart. £117,630 is what a M3 GTS Coupe costs; and there are no extras it's fully specced but in a fast road or trackday kind of way.

The high-revving 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine has been 'breathed on' by BMW's iconic M engineering division to produce 443bhp with 324lb ft of torque and a 189mph (restricted) top speed. Zero to 62mph acceleration takes 4.4 seconds.

Should you be remotely interested, the official Combined Cycle fuel economy is 22.2mpg (12.6mpg on the track). If you can afford one of these German projectiles then the emission figures (295g/km) won't cause you any sleepless nights; neither will the £1,000 first year road tax bill (it drops to 'just' £460 for the second year onwards). Performance and price also mean an insurance group 50 rating that is, if you are eligible…

“The handling and
steering was super-sharp
despite the greasy and
mixed tarmac surfaces,
the rear-end stepping
dutifully back into line
after powering through
corners.
The ride, of course,
was firm but not too
harsh, and the feedback
from the suspension
through the driver’s seat
provided crucial
information as to how
far this car could be
pushed in less than ideal
conditions
...”

So who is likely to own one of these iconic BMW beasties? Well-heeled customers who most likely already have a collection of high-performance, limited-edition cars along with those who want to test their mettle at trackdays or for club motorsport.

The 'standard' 155mph M3 Coupe costs £54,545 in road trim and has not only been at the forefront of motorsport participation, but with its supercar status has sold in considerable numbers in the UK 823 in 2007; 1,228 in 2008; 686 (in the recession year of 2009); and now just starting to regain ground with 711 sold in 2010.

BMW says the M3 GTS Coupe is the epitome of high-performance BMW M engineering, encompassing BMW M brand values in a highly-concentrated form. Every car is hand customised in the home of the M division at Garching in Germany.

There's absolutely no doubt as to the M3 GTS's sporting potential instantly recognisable by its unique Fire Orange paintwork, dark anodised chrome exterior trim, fully-adjustable race-type rear spoiler, front splitter and 19-inch M double-spoke matt-black alloy wheels with mixed tyres (255/35ZR at the front; 285/30 ZR at the rear).

Extensive use of lightweight materials such as polycarbonate rear and rear side windows and carbon-fibre roof plus lightweight door trim panels gives a power-to-weight ratio of 3.4kgs-per-hp. Not only does this assist performance but it enables the GTS's supreme agility.

Inside and under the lightweight skin, the GTS is motorsport bred. That doesn't mean that the two-seat interior finish is basic or stripped-out solely for motorsport use and the only options are no-cost items; a BMW professional radio and single CD player and dual-zone automatic air conditioning. If the car is for trackday or motorsport use, these will not be taken up; if it's for a connoisseur owner, they will.

The GTS specification includes racing exhaust system, catalytic converter and titanium rear silencers with four tailpipes, dynamic stability control (with M Dynamic mode for driver preference settings), adjustable height suspension (with separate adjustment for the shock absorber compression and extension rates), 20-piston fixed calliper braking system, compound brake discs front and rear (ventilated and cross-drilled), roll-over bar/cage behind the B-pillars, six-point seatbelts for the driver and front passenger for track use (if required), fire extinguisher, steering column-mounted M-shift gear-paddles, Recaro racing-bucket front seats and bespoke M3 GTS door sill finishers.

Uprated from 4.0 to 4.4 litres, the V8 petrol engine has four valves per cylinder and the 443bhp/324lb ft power/torque outputs have been chosen to meet the needs of club motorsport events while still remaining road legal and retaining the ability to make it useable day-in and day-out on normal roads.

Drive is to the rear wheels through a modified seven-speed double-clutch M Drivelogic gearbox which includes the usual BMW M-Drive facility to tailor settings such as gearchange points and throttle response. Gearchanges can be made either with the sequential gearshift or the steering column-mounted paddles.

Uprated from 4.0 to 4.4 litres, the V8’s
443bhp/324lb ft power/torque outputs
have been chosen
to meet the needs of club
motorsport events
while still remaining road
legal and retaining the
ability to make it useable
on normal roads
...”
The M3 GTS is an engineering piece-of-art and it looks good and, apart from the colour, actually rather understated only the racing-style rear spoiler is likely to trigger a 'hot fuzz' alert.

Being one of the few motoring journalists invited by BMW to try the M3 GTS for a 'one and only' test drive, I arrived at the venue just as the heavens opened and the rain arrived not ideal conditions for Millbrook's high speed bowl and tricky hill routes with its narrow roads, steep hills, blind brows and adverse-camber corners.

Tuning in the most passive of settings the GTS had to offer through its complicated M-Drive and M-Dynamic mode settings, the 189mph coupe still remains a beast especially with loads of water under its big fat tyres.

Even in the wet, Millbrook's high speed bowl with its 100mph restriction was no problem, with the GTS holding a tight and controlled line through the continuous corners. The benefits of rear-wheel drive under hard accelerations are very evident, with excellent stability and precise steering responses, and the same was found hurtling around the challenging hill route.

I refrained from getting the GTS airborne over the challenging hill crests the ever-watchful eyes of the marshals seemed permanently locked on the bright orange GTS and I didn't want to be the Journo who had his driving permit revoked for dangerous play.

Again, the handling and steering was super-sharp despite the greasy and mixed tarmac surfaces, the rear-end stepping dutifully back into line after powering through corners. The ride, of course, is firm but not too harsh, and the feedback from the suspension through the driver's seat provides crucial information as to how far this car can be pushed in less than ideal conditions.

Despite its motorsport genes, trickling back to the pits at a sociable speed amongst other much slower traffic on more conventional roads and roundabouts proved that this engine and twin-clutch transmission combination will allow the M3 GTS to be used not only for high speed thrills on racing circuits but equally will provide a rewarding and compliant drive on public roads.

Reasons why fourteen UK customers have happily signed £117,630 cheques for an M3 GTS Coupe include exclusivity, raw power, track performance and unexpected everyday driveability. And my test drive? Despite the weather, definitely a motoring highlight to be long remembered. — David Miles

BMW M3 GTS Coupe | £117,630
Maximum speed: 189mph | 0-62mph: 4.4 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 22.2mpg
Power: 443bhp | Torque: 324lb ft | CO2 295g/km