On the BMW exhibition stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show in autumn 1985, the M3 was presented to a more broadly based public audience for the first time. Even without a special paint finish, it was not difficult to distinguish the car from the other BMW 3 Series vehicles. The boot lid was crowned by a spoiler across the width of the car. Aprons all round indicated the refined aerodynamic work that had been carried out on the body. The C-pillar of the BMW M3 was slightly wider than that of the series model and had a flatter taper in order not to interrupt the airflow over the edge of the roof and at the same time direct it more effectively onto the rear spoiler. Thick cheeks had sprouted over the wide wheels of the M3, with the flared wheel arches coming to an end in a striking lip below the edges of the wings. There was no question about it – the BMW M3 looked fast even when it was perched on an exhibition stand.
The BMW M3 weighed in at just 1200 kilograms without payload on the sca- les and hence remained a sporty lightweight. The weight-to-power ratio at only 6.15 kilograms for every 1 hp was an extremely impressive figure even by today’s standards. This was primarily due to the use of plastic components. Although the bodywork including the wide wheel housings were made of metal in keeping with tradition, the front and rear bumpers, and side sills, boot lid and spoilers were made of plastic.
The refined aerodynamic work paid off with an outstanding cW value of 0.33. The lift at the front axle was around half that of the other two- door 3 Series models. The large rear wing reduced the lift on the rear axle by some two thirds. This was evident to the driver in the form of significantly increased driving stability and more precise steering cha- racteristics at very high speeds. In fact, the standard M3 reached a top speed of 230 km/h with catalytic converter and 235 km/h without catalytic converter. And yet it was relatively fuel-efficient for super. Using the then current Euromix formula for super made up of Speed 80, 120 and town cycle, the M3 consumed significantly less than nine litres for every 100 km/h driven. However, the power pack came at a price: an M3 cost 58,000 marks when it was launched in 1986. By comparison, the 325i convertible at 43,300 marks was the next car down the BMW 3 Series price list.