A new member of the M family has arrived on the scene, resplendent in its Frozen Polar Silver metallic paint finish. A new model, and a new name – CRT, which stands for Carbon Racing Technology.
It’s no M3 CSL, but it shares the same spirit. Back in 2003 when BMW launched the CSL it represented a test bed for new intelligent lightweight technologies, most notable of which was its carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof.
The new M3 CRT is likewise the first model to use a material that originated in an innovative BMW production process for lightweight components. The cuttings left behind from the body construction of the new BMW i models BMW i3 and BMW i8 are woven into CFRP mats of various sizes, impregnated with synthetic resin and hardened.
The results are evident in a bonnet which weighs only a quarter as much as a steel equivalent, but has the same strength and rigidity. The material produced through this innovative manufacturing technology is also used for the car’s bucket seats. Here, the CFRP layers are wrapped around a recycled-paper honeycomb, with a carbon layer made using conventional production technology added to visible areas. CFRP is also used to make both the rear spoiler of the BMW M3 CRT and an air-channelling element integrated into its front apron.
Whilst the high-performance BMW M3 CRT is based on the BMW M3 sedan, its engine, gearbox and chassis comes from the M3 GTS coupe. With its 444 bhp high-performance M engine, the BMW M3 CRT achieves a power-to-weight ratio of 3.5kg/HP and weighs 70 kg less than a BMW M3 sedan.
The weight advantage is the result of the CFRP components already mentioned plus an extremely lightweight titanium sports muffler and sound-proofing configured especially for the BMW M3 CRT.
Power is transferred to the tarmac by mixed tyres in dimensions of 245/35 R 19 at the front and 265/35 R 19 at the rear, on 19-inch CSL-style alloy wheel rims. BMW claim a top speed of 181 mph for the M3 CRT, which can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds.
Unlike the standard M3 Saloon, the M3 CRT makes do with just four seats – which is still two more than the M3 GTS offered. Complementing the matt-effect Frozen Polar Silver metallic paint finish are applications of Melbourne red metallic in areas such as the front spoiler and bonnet air intakes.
Inside, the M3 GTS features a unique combination of black/red leather and decorative strips in a new kind of aluminium fibre structure. The CFRP seat pans in front are reinterpreted for rear seat passengers with single seats, optimised for side support.
And now for the bad news. Firstly if you live in the UK, you can’t buy an M3 GTS, unless of course you manage to import one from Germany. So if that hurdle doesn’t stop you, then the next probably will. At EUR 130,000 incl. VAT in Germany, the 444 bhp M3 CRT costs a whopping EUR 30,000 more than the newly unveiled 552 bhp M5.
The BMW M3 CRT is to be produced in a limited edition run of 67 cars, so perhaps its best to look upon the CRT as a test-bed and wait until some of its intelligent technology appears on a future M car.