With an inline six engine, the second generation M3 increased its strength but in the U.S. it was sold with a weaker engine. In 1990, BMW launched a new 3 Series based on the E36 platform. Two years later the series was complemented with the M3. This version wasn't as charismatic as its predecessor, however. Its appearance was more user friendly, with rounded edges rather than sharp ones; its engine now in the classic BMW inline six configuration.Gone were the idiosyncratic elements that bequeathed the 1st generation its character and with it the high revving power unit.BMW also began its unstoppable march towards acceptance by the masses as a luxury car brand. The first E36 M3 was introduced as a coupe version only. The convertible and four-door sedan were added to the lineup in 1994, the latest one as a stopgap in the absence of the M5 for a few years during the mid-90s.However, despite the effort to create a more friendly and civilized car, the emphasis on the engine remained as before, as BMW engineers tried to squeeze out every ounce of horsepower. The first E36 M3 series was propelled by a 3.0-liter engine generating 286hp and 236 lb-ft at 3600 rpm.The engine was also equipped with an advanced VANOS system (for variable valve timing). This allowed the opening point of the inlet valves to be adjusted to the engine speed and load, and so torque, power and consumption could be optimized simultaneously.That engine had the highest specific output, 97hp per liter of any natural aspirated engine and the 80lb-ft per liter was an impressive figure as well. The coupe's sprint to 62 mph lasted just 6.0 seconds; top speed was electronically limited to 155 mph. The increase in engine performance also demanded parallel enhancements to the chassis and its ancillary systems.Low profile tires combined with a wide tread surface of 17 inches required an innovative approach to develop a suspension system that would soften the harsh ride expected from such tires.A key element in achieving that was a single-joint spring strut front axle with reinforced spring plates and axle knuckles. The centrally guided rear axle reduced body movements when driving off and braking. The dampers and anti-roll bars also had to be tuned more tautly. The changes lowered the bodywork by 31 millimeters compared to the 3 Series Coupe. The adhesion limit was reached at a lateral acceleration of 0.8g.