BMW M3 Review
The BMW M3 is back faster and more agile than ever. However, you’ll have to decide whether you like the new looks…
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Things that make you go ‘mmm’. Well, if the new BMW M3 doesn’t, you have no petrol in your veins.
The new BMW M3 will go head-to-head with the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C63 and Audi RS5 when it hits the roads later this year. As well as a complete cosmetic overhaul, this 3.0-litre straight-six sports car will be available with four-wheel drive for the first time.
The new BMW M3 features a similar huge grille to the upcoming 4 Series Coupe. Though, the gaping black-painted kidneys look far more at home on the aggressive M car than on the humdrum 4 Series thanks to plenty of other huge (and completely real) air intakes and vents.
The M3 gets a heavily sculpted bonnet with scalloped details behind the BMW badge. It is wider than its predecessor, by almost three centimetres.
The new car’s side skirts are more pronounced than before, too, and you can pick from a pair of new alloy wheel designs that measure 19 inches at the front and 20 at the rear. Speaking of the rear, the M3 comes with a black rear diffuser with a quartet of 10-centimetre exhausts pipes poking out underneath.
The only body panels carried over from the standard BMW 3 Series are the doors and the bootlid – everything else has been given the beefed-up M treatment. No wonder the M3 looks like a touring car.
BMW has also confirmed that’ll it’ll build an M3 Touring for the first time ever. This high-performance estate will come with the bold design of the new M3 and add a bucketload of extra boot space.
500hp used to be the reserve of BMW's most powerful models, but now this mid-range M3 has more than that. Technology, eh?
The interior of the BMW M3 has been given the M treatment, too. There’s a chunkier M Sport steering wheel with M-coloured stitching and programmable M driving mode buttons, alongside a red starter button, an M-badged gear lever and plenty of carbon-fibre trim as standard. It’s on the steering wheel, the centre console and the gear-shift paddles.
The M Sport seats come with built-in M logos (that light up) and can be specced with two-tone trim – for an extra £300. Even better are the optional carbon-fibre bucket seats. They are even more supportive, come with electric adjustment and get plenty of vents to stop you feeling sweaty on a hot summer’s (track) day. Shame they’ll set you back £3,500.
You don’t have to pay extra for a fancy infotainment system, though – every M3 gets BMW’s latest iDrive tech as standard. This comes with two large screens, a head-up display system, BMW’s clever personal assistant voice command system and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The standard BMW M3 comes with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six engine that produces 480hp. Pick a Competition model and this gets bumped up to 510hp and 650Nm of torque. That’s 60hp and 100Nm more than the old Competition cars could manage.
The M3 has a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but you can pay extra to get an eight-speed automatic instead. This is a torque-converter instead of the old cars’ seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes and will get the same near-bullet-proof launch control system as the BMW M8. Competition models come with this automatic gearbox as standard – you can’t get them with a manual.
BMW claims the new M3 Competition will do 0-60 in 3.9 seconds – that’s 0.1 seconds faster than the outgoing models. More impressive is the fact that they’ll accelerate from 50mph to 75mph a whole second quicker than the old M3 Competition.
The new BMW M3 will be available with four-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive for the first time. This system has been pinched from the BMW M5, so it’ll let you decide how much power you want to send to the rear wheels. Turn all the electronic safety systems off and it’ll send all the engine’s power rearward to allow for some seriously smokey drifts – on a race track, of course.
The BMW M3 comes with a carbon-fibre roof to make its chassis stiffer and lower the centre of gravity to reduce body lean in fast corners. Despite this, the M3 weighs around 1,750kg – that’s around 160kg more than the old model.
Adaptive suspension – that gives you the choice of soft setups or firmer, more sporty ones – comes as standard and you get beefier brakes than the standard 3-Series. There are six-piston callipers with 380mm discs at the front and floating callipers with 370mm discs at the back.
Carbon-ceramic brake discs measuring 400mm at the front and 380mm at the rear are available as part of an £8,000 upgrade pack that also bumps the top speed from 155mph to 180mph.
You can upgrade the look of the BMW M3 further with a carbon pack as part of the optional M Performance Parts. This includes a redesigned front bumper with deep carbon-clad intakes instead of plastic mesh, carbon door mirrors, a carbon rear spoiler and a carbon finish for the rear diffuser. All in, it costs £4,000.
Other optional M Performance parts include a titanium exhaust that’s five kilograms lighter than the standard steel item. It looks different, too, thanks to a new stacked arrangement of the four exhaust tips.
You can also add adjustable coilover suspension to your M3 that lets you lower the car by 10mm. New alloy wheels are also available that measure 20 inches in the front and 21 in the rear.
You can also choose from a selection of M Performance interior upgrades. These add additional carbon fibre to the door sills and Alcantara – instead of leather – trim on the steering wheel.
The BMW M3 is on sale now, but in the UK, you can only get the upgraded Competition models. That means there’ll be no 480hp versions and you won’t be able to get a six-speed manual gearbox. The M3 Competition costs from £75,000 , which is getting on for £8,000 more than the outgoing cars. The first UK deliveries are expected in March 2021.
We’re scheduled to drive the new BMW M3 very soon, so will let you know what it’s like as soon as we do.
Meantime, watch Mat’s video of both the BMW M3 and the M4…