Just when Mercedes thought it had things all to itself with its new C63 AMG, along comes arch-rival BMW to put a spanner in the works. And what a spanner the new M3 saloon is, packing the same 4.0-litre V8 engine as the coupé version, but with greater practicality.
These are the first official pictures of the new M3 saloon and you can see it has the same purposeful stance as the coupé thanks to subtly flared wheel arches and a suggestive bonnet power bulge. There's also a unique front end for the saloon that includes different headlights and 'kidney' grille intakes. At the rear, the M3 saloon has 20-litres more boot space than its coupé sister model.
With the same 414bhp V8 engine as the coupé, the M3 four-door is no slower and sees off 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds along with a top speed capped at 155mph. The saloon uses the same electronically adjustable suspension, though is thought to have the more comfortable ride quality of the two M3 models so far unveiled.
The M3 saloon is due to go on sale at the beginning of 2008 and should touch down in the UK around March with a price tag of around £50,000, which will undercut the expected £55,000 asking price for the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
With the Audi RS4 no longer being produced and no replacement likely till 2009, the M3 and C63 are in a straight fight for small super-saloon supremacy. This is not the first time BMW and Mercedes have slugged this one out as the E36 M3 - built between 1994 and 1998 - went toe-to-toe with the Mercedes C36 and C43 saloons. BMW came out on top then, but the C63 AMG now packs a 451bhp 6.2-litre V8 engine and scalps 0-62mph in 4.
6 seconds. Let the games begin.