Few cars have shoes as big to fill as the new M4 GTS. It follows a long and illustrious line of fast, desirable, and very special BMWs. So to celebrate the limited GTS, 3 of which are destined for our small country, let’s take a look back at the cars that went before it.

E30 M3 Sport Evo
BMW-M3-Sport-Evo
The E30 M3 is quickly becoming a sought after collector’s car so a more limited and more powerful version of the E30 would surely be something equivalent to the Holy Grail for BMW lovers. Only 600 of these were made with its 2.3-litre engine pumped up to 2.5-litres. That means power is up from 190hp/143kW to 235hp/174kW. It was also lighter and featured more aggressive bodywork. It was, in essence, the ultimate iteration of the E30 generation. No wonder then Sport Evos fetch for around the same as a new M6 these days.

E36 M3 GT
BMW-M3-GT
The M3 GT is perhaps the underdog of this bunch, certainly the lest well-known. BMW only made 356 of these homologation specials and all were painted in British Racing Green. Power is up from 240hp/179kW to 295hp/217kW. The M3 GT seemed to be a cross of two worlds; one the one hand it had lightweight materials such as aluminium doors to keep weight down, but on the other hand it had more equipment. The green leather interior was hardly sparse either. That said, the GT weighed no more than a standard M3 (1500kg) despite the extra goodies. Prices for these are quite low these days, so would make a decent investment opportunity. Sourcing one is another question entirely.

E46 M3 CSL
BMW-M3-CSL
We get to my favourite of these cars, the M3 CSL. This car brought back the Coupe Sport Lightweight moniker since the 1982 3.0 CSL. Based on the E46 M3 platform, the M3 CSL is powered by an uprated 3.2-litre straight six; a proper BMW engine. The CSL developed 360hp/. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox). The CSL was very serious about its weight loss, it had a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof panel and boot lid, fibreglass-reinforced bumpers, and thinner glass for the windows. The result is a 1385kg kerb weight. BMW made 1358 CSL (823 LHD, 535 RHD). It’s also the only one without a fixed rear wing. Which I like.

E92 M3 GTS
BMW-M3-GTS
The direct predecessor to the M4 GTS, the E92 M3 GTS was the last hurrah for this generation of V8-powered M3 before it was replaced by the current F80/F82 generation. The GTS was 75kg lighter (1530kg) than the standard M3 at the time and had a 30hp/ power advantage, bringing total output up to 444hp. The weight savings were done in the form of a titanium exhaust, polycarbonate rear windows, lightweight allows, and a track-focused interior. The GTS carried on the CSL’s theme of having a paddle-shift gearbox only, this time a 7-speed DCT (dual-clutch transmission). BMW only made 150 examples of these.

F82 M4 GTS
BMW-M4-GTS
Finally, the current M4 GTS. Limited to 700 units world and costing nearly double a standard M4, the GTS ought to be very special. The numbers certainly make seem very appealing. Powered by a tuned version of the M4’s 3.0-litre twin turbo in-line six, it develops 500hp/368kW and 600NM of torque. That results in a 0-100 km/h time of just 3.8 seconds. Like its predecessors, weight has been reduced thanks to generous usage of carbon fibre reinforced plastics. Kerb weight is down to 1510kg, lighter than the M3 GTS before it though not quite as light as the CSL. Again, the GTS will only come with a DCT gearbox.

Let us know which one is your favourite in the comments.

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