Muscular, fast and highly tuneable, we break down what you need to know before buying the BMW F80 M3 & F82 M4 in our quick-fire buyer’s guide.
Why you want a BMW F80 M3 or F82 M4
The previous-generation M3 (and M4) is arguably the best model to opt for if you’re looking for the best overall ownership experience rather than the purest driving experience. It’s insanely fast and, thanks to the turbocharged S55, the performance is so accessible; huge mid-range torque makes the M3/4 outrageously rapid and it takes very little effort to go very quickly indeed. It looks fantastic, too, with seriously aggressive styling, the chassis is sharp and finely honed and the whole package is truly exceptional.
If you’re looking to extract more power, the S55 engine found in the M3 and M4 are highly tuneable with the right supporting mods. A simple remap will take the power figure to almost 500bhp without breaking a sweat. Either six-speed manual or 7-speed DCT transmissions are also relatively strong. Above 600bhp and you’ll be looking for upgraded clutches and clutch packs. As for the engine, we’ve seen 1000bhp+ builds with supporting engine internal mods and a huge single turbo.
But the biggest reason why you want an F80 M3 is the styling. If you aren’t a fan of the newer car’s front grilles, then the F80 offers a much prettier front end.
What to pay for an F8x M3/M4
F8x prices have been falling hard and fast and they still have a long way to go before they bottom out, which means that every moment that passes is instantly the best time to buy one as they’re only getting cheaper, though values have slowed their descent. Prices for all three body styles start at around £24,000 and cars at this price point will have around 80-90,000 miles – the DCT gearbox was a lot more popular than manual when the car was new so most cars you will see for sale are DCT examples.
£25,000 and up will give you a wide range of M4 Coupés and Convertibles to peruse with around 50,000 miles, while around £27,000 will give you a much bigger selection of M3s to choose from with around 70k miles. Competition cars start appearing at around the £30k-mark, we spotted a 30 Jahre saloon up for £45,000 and that’s also the sort of price that M4 CSs go for while an M3 CS will cost around £60k.
BMW F80 M3 & F82 M4 most common problems
- Crank hub issue that causes early engine failure. This is a major issue for the F80/F82 M3 and M4 cars.
- Turbo oil seal failure. This is less common but as cars reach higher mileage, it is being reported.
- Potential for oil leaks around the rocker cover, oil filter housing and sump.
The F8x platform is still quite young but is thus far proving to be reliable, so you shouldn’t have too many issues to worry about. The biggest problem with the S55 is the crank hub – if it spins it pretty much means instant death for your engine and you’re going to need a new one. The percentage of failures is small and the general consensus is that the problem has been blown out of proportion, however, it is something to be aware of and despite BMW changing the design of the engine’s bedplate people have still been reporting failures.
Luckily you can buy a single-piece crank hub kit for around £500 or £600 with a capture plate and this should give you peace of mind and a happy S55. Turbo oil seal failure is also starting to be reported more frequently among the community at around the 40,000-mile mark so that’s also something to be aware of.
Modifying an M3/M4
Unsurprisingly, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to tuning options for both the M3 and M4 and the aftermarket is overflowing with performance products. On the engine front, you’ll be wanting a set of uprated charge pipes (the stock items crack), downpipes and a JB4 or bm3 and with that combo, you will be right around the 550hp-mark.
It’ll be worth upgrading the cooling at this stage and here CSF’s uprated heat exchanger and chargecooler combo will ensure your intake temps are kept low. If you want to take things further you’ll be looking at hybrid turbos and, with the correct supporting mods and deep enough pockets, you can hit 700whp and there are plenty of M4s out there now making 1000hp.
If you’ve got DCT then it’s well worth getting the M4 GTS software flash as it’ll make the gearbox a lot more responsive. While the M3/4 exhaust note divides opinion there can be no denying it’s one of the angriest-sounding cars about and there are plenty of exhaust options that will make it sound absolutely insane. One of the best-sounding setups uses the Active Autowerke equal-length mid-pipe, which removes the rasp and gives the car a much deeper and more muscular tone.
Finally, a set of decent lowering springs combined with some spacers will work wonders for the M4’s looks; there’s loads to choose from but KW’s HAS kit offers height adjustment while BMS spacers are a great choice to fill our your car’s arches properly. If you’re after something more serious a set of coilovers will give that extra adjustability and the chance to go lower still.
With prices still dropping, the F8x M3 and M4 continue to be better and better value as every day goes by and what a car this is for the money. The stock performance is explosive, the turbocharged S55 feels effortless, while the chassis is excellent and the whole package is just fantastic. Aside from the crank hub issue, reliability has been good overall and then you’ve got the massive selection of tuning parts available plus the ease with which the S55 can hit big numbers. It might be bigger and a bit more grown-up than its predecessors, but the F8x M3/4 is a thrilling car to drive and it can wear its M badge with pride.
Tech Spec: BMW F80 M3 / F82 M4
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six S55B30
Transmission: Six-speed manual, seven-speed M DCT
Torque: 406lb ft
0-62mph: 4.3 (DCT 4.1) seconds
Price new: £55,175 (M3 Saloon)
Photos: Rowan Patrick, Andy Starkey, Rich Pearce, Luke Dulski