VFACTS: BMW M3 and M4 beat Mercedes-AMG, Audi to segment sales crown

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The styling of the new BMW M3 and M4 performance cars might have divided the Internet – but it appears buyers have warmed to the bold new look, according to sales figures sourced by Drive.

The new-generation BMW M3 and M4 performance cars beat their German, Italian and Japanese rivals to top honours in its market segment last year, sales figures reveal.

Launched locally in March 2021, the new M3 and M4 – known internally as the G80 and G82 respectively – follow a similar recipe to the cars they replace, with BMW’s latest twin-turbo inline-six and rear-wheel-drive platform – but have divided opinion among fans, with controversial front-end styling, and a switch from a dual-clutch to torque-converter automatic gearbox.

However, online chatter didn’t stop the new BMW M cars from leading their sales segment, with 464 M3 sedans and 222 M4 coupes/convertibles sold since the first members of the range went on sale, for a total of 686 cars – accounting for 14.5 per cent of 3 Series sedan and two-door 4 Series sales.

Those figures place the BMW ahead of the second-placed Mercedes-AMG C63 S which, across all body styles (sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible), accounted for approximately 20 per cent of all C-Class sales between March and December, translating to around 600 vehicles.

However, it’s worth noting the current-generation ‘W205’ C-Class range was in runout through most of 2021, with dealer stock drying up ahead of a new model due this year – limiting its potential, and its chance of defeating its BMW rivals in the sales race.

Over the same period, Audi sold 127 mid-sized RS models – consisting of 48 RS4 Avant wagons, 22 RS5 Coupes and 57 RS5 Sportback liftbacks – while Alfa Romeo shifted 47 examples of its Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan.

Despite new Australian Design Rules outlawing the certification of new imports from November 1 – and order books closing on June 30 – the Lexus RC F nearly outsold the newer and more advanced Audi RS5, with just under 20 vehicles sold between March and December.

US electric vehicle specialist Tesla also competes in this segment with the Model 3 Performance sedan, but as the car maker doesn’t report sales data to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) – and does not provide such data to media – it’s hard to confirm how many examples it sold.

The BMW M3 and M4 are the only cars in their segment to offer the option of a manual transmission – though the vast majority of buyers gravitated towards the eight-speed automatic, with 7.5 per cent of M3 sales and 10.8 per cent of M4 sales featuring three pedals.

However, that’s likely influenced by the manuals being limited to the ‘base’ models, which offer rear-wheel drive only, and a 353kW/550Nm version of the M3/M4’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six. Automatic ‘Competition’ variants gain the full-noise 375kW/650Nm tune, and optional all-wheel drive (standard with the Convertible)

The aforementioned sales results form part of a medium luxury sedan and wagon segment down 1.2 per cent across all of 2021 compared with the prior 12 months – and a sports car above $80,000 (coupe and convertible) class up 6.2 per cent over the same period.

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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