BMW M3 Review & Prices
The BMW M3 is faster, more agile and can now be had with switchable four-wheel drive. But you’ll either love or hate the looks…
Find out more about the BMW M3
The BMW M3 is a high-performance saloon alternative to the Audi RS4, Mercedes-AMG C 63 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. It’s the original and still considered the best by many, loved for packing so much pace and excitement into a sensible, family friendly body.
The latest generation has more power and luxury than ever, but that might not matter to you one jot if you take one look at it and don’t like what you see...
There’s more to the outlandish styling of the BMW M3 than just the ‘kidney’ (maybe lungs would be more appropriate) grille. Huge intakes sit either side of the bottom of the front bumper, while down the side swollen wheel arches make it stand out from a regular 3 Series. In fact, the only bit of bodywork shared with the standard car is the boot lid — though here it has a spoiler tacked on top. You’ll see a quad-exit exhaust sat below a chunky diffuser, and happily, those huge tailpipes are real.
You have the option between two alloy wheel designs as well, with the front pair 19 inches and the rear 20 inches in size. You can also choose to have lots of the exterior details clad in carbon fibre, although this is a pricey option.
You’re not going to mistake the BMW M3 for a run-of-the-mill 3 Series inside, either. It’s covered with M-coloured stitching, M-badges everywhere and if that wasn’t enough, it’s like somebody spilt a large mug of carbon fibre all over the place. A thick model-specific steering wheel features, as well as standard electrically-adjustable sports seats that come with illuminated M logos, though you can opt for figure-hugging carbon fibre bucket seats if you want a feel more akin to a racing car.
Watch: BMW M3 v Porsche 911
This version of the BMW M3 is a bit longer than the old car as well, so there’s more room in the back. Legroom back there is pretty good, and there’s more headroom here than the equivalent M4 as a result of the saloon body style. You could easily use this as a family car.
You get a fantastic new infotainment system on a 14.9-inch screen, it’s intuitive and dead easy to use, plus there’s support for Android Auto in addition to Apple CarPlay. Both can be connected wirelessly, as well.
In front of you, there’s a 12.3-inch digital drivers display for key driving info, and this has some customisation to it too, including racy-looking M-specific displays. It’s not the most configurable or exciting-looking instrument display in the business, however.
There’s a reasonable amount of boot space in the BMW M3, with 480 litres. That’s identical to the outgoing car, though those after a bit more room will be happy to know there's also an M3 Touring available in an estate body style.
If you’re buying a BMW M3 though, you’re likely most interested in its performance — and this latest version has bags of it. Its 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six engine is good for 510bhp and 650Nm of torque in Competition form (which is all you can get in the UK), sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It fires the M3 from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a 155mph limited top speed. You can get that raised to 180mph either as a standalone option or as part of a package that also includes carbon-ceramic brakes, but it’ll cost you £8,000. Gulp.
The new BMW M3 is nothing short of sensational to drive, and I’m excited by how blisteringly quick the all-wheel-drive version is, no matter what the conditions
Another option you can get on the M3 for the first time ever in the UK is an xDrive version. This brings in the same switchable four-wheel drive system as you’ll find on the M5, allowing you to have the security of all-weather traction mixed with the ability to switch back into rear-wheel drive for some hooliganism.
When you’re driving it hard, the M3 doesn’t feel quite as spiky and unpredictable as the old car — largely in part because of impressive levels of grip all-round. It feels sharper than the likes of the Audi RS4, yet not as intimidating as the outgoing version. It’s even less spiky in the four-wheel drive version, which rivals the Audi for storming all weather, all season pace.
This is more than just a brutal performance car though and does the normal stuff pretty well. Switch everything into Comfort mode and you can cruise along pretty pleasantly enjoying lighter steering, though the suspension still has a pretty firm edge to it at low speed.
As you probably would with your other half’s surprise tattoo, you can probably look past the looks and appreciate the BMW M3 for the impressive performance car it is. You might even grow to like the styling, too.
Want one? Check out our BMW M3 deals page to get the best price, or browse the latest used M3s available from a network of trusted dealers. You can also browse other used BMWs, and carwow can even help you sell your current car.
The BMW M3 has a RRP range of £82,450 to £105,535. However, with carwow you can save on average £5,495. Prices start at £77,652 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £970. The price of a used BMW M3 on carwow starts at £50,888.
Our most popular versions of the BMW M3 are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|M3 Competition 4dr Step Auto||£77,652||Compare offers|
It’s not only the power, size and weight of the new BMW M3 that has increased; its price has also seen a hike. It costs more than the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio and Audi RS4 in ‘base’ rear-wheel drive trim and can breach the £100,000 mark once you add all-wheel-drive, carbon ceramic brakes and a host of other aesthetic and luxury features.
That said, it’s already very well specced as standard and is arguably the most talented sports saloon in its class, and, optioning up any of its alternatives results in similarly inflated pricing.
The BMW M3 is fantastic to drive on a twisty road, but it's pretty uncomfortable over bumps in town
Being based on a family-friendly saloon car pays dividends when it comes to daily usability, and while its dimensions have grown, the new M3 is still perfectly suited to pottering around town. The suspension can be unyielding over bumps at low speeds, but you have an unobstructed view out from the multi-adjustable driver’s seat and the gearbox, brakes and steering all feel light and accurate.
The BMW M3 comes with the Parking Assistant package as standard, providing help when parallel or reverse parking, through a multitude of sensors and an impressively detailed rear-view camera.
On the motorway
The M3’s bumpy slow-speed ride quality smooths out as the speeds rise and it cruises along just as serenely as a regular 3 Series, unless of course you mash your foot to the floor when its sporty engine and exhaust note permeate the cabin. The large tyres can transmit some road noise into the cabin, but it's still impressively refined and very comfortable.
On a twisty road
Weighing 150kg more than the outgoing M3 may have you thinking that the new model would lose its composure when it came to twisty roads, but you’d be wrong. Thanks to a very well sorted chassis the rear-wheel-drive M3 exhibits very precise and sharp handling characteristics that can be further fine-tuned using the configurable M mode.
The switchable xDrive all-wheel-drive model adds additional grip in slippery conditions giving you the sort of all-weather performance that was once the sole preserve of Audi’s top RS models. The optional Carbon Ceramic brakes offer fade-free braking performance, and you can even have your drifting skills assessed by the onboard computer – at the safety of a race track of course.
The M3 saloon may be a thrilling sports car, but it easily seats four and has plenty of space for luggage, too. Five adults would be a squeeze though
Storage space for the two occupants up front is generous, with a pair of cupholders in front of the gear lever and a space for your mobile phone that also provides wireless charging. Two wide and deep door pockets will take additional cups and water bottles. The centre armrest opens up to reveal a deep storage area, making up for the rather puny glovebox, which is a bit too shallow.
The standard electric driver’s seat is supportive with plenty of adjustment to suit most shapes, and for even more support you can opt for the M carbon bucket seats which hold you in place like a vice grip once you hoist yourself over the substantial side bolsters. We’d save the money and stick with the standard sports seats if you aren’t planning to regularly attend track days.
Space in the back seats
Thanks to decent leg and headroom, three adults can fit in the rear. Although, the two outer seats offer sculpted backrests making them more suitable for long trips, and an empty centre rear seat means that its backrest can be folded down to be used as an armrest and a receptacle for a pair of coffee cups.
Easily accessible ISOFIX anchor points are situated in the two outside seats, and the door pockets are big enough for even large water bottles.
With 480 litres of boot space, the M3 will take just as much luggage as a regular 3 Series and matches the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio as well. The Audi RS4 Avant takes 15 litres more but is available solely as an estate and is more comparable to the M3 Touring. The new Mercedes C-Class offers 455 litres, but the AMG C 63 has a bit less because the hybrid system's batteries are stored beneath the boot.
An electric bootlid is available as part of the Comfort Pack package and the Extended Storage package which incorporates bag hooks, side nets and a 12V power socket is fitted as standard.
The latest wide screen infotainment system and plenty of sporty ‘M’ design touches typify the M3’s cabin. Just beware as it’s not hard to push the price up by dabbling in the options list
The M3’s interior is typically well built with great quality materials and some sporty touches that help separate it from the rest of the 3 Series range. These include the optional M Carbon bucket seats, M-specific steering wheel with its two red ‘M’ buttons and a model specific gear. You can further customise the interior with a selection of two-tone leather upholstery and Carbon Fibre trim.
The updated 12.3-inch driver display is fully customisable and offers M-specific visuals but can be a bit confusing to read at first glance. The new 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen is a revelation though; it doesn’t look quite as impressive as Mercedes’ large portrait display but is arguably more intuitive to use and offers all the connectivity and features you could possibly want or need. The navigation system is much improved, but you can still use Google Maps or other third-party apps thanks to standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
You can use the iDrive control, voice commands, touchscreen or even hand gestures to access the various functions. We found ourselves using the touchscreen while stationary and the controller when on the move. An optional Drive Recorder can take a video of the exterior environment to be played inside the car or exported to an external device.
USB and USB-C sockets are provided up front, with wireless connectivity and charging for mobile phones and the obligatory 12-Volt socket between the cupholders.
The M3 is offered solely in top Competition guise in the UK, that means that its twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine develops 510bhp and rockets the rear-wheel-drive model to 62mph in 3.9 seconds. That’s on par with the Alfa Quadrifoglio and quicker than the Audi RS4’s 4.1-second effort.
If you opt for the xDrive all-wheel-drive version, then the 0-62mph time drops to what was a class-leading 3.5 seconds. The new Mercedes-AMG C 63 S promises to complete the same sprint in 3.4 seconds thanks to its 680hp hybrid engine.
While the 155mph limited top speed is unlikely to be troubled on British roads, you can increase your bragging points by adding the M Driver’s Pack which increases the top speed to 180mph, and it also includes an M Intensive Training BMW Driving Experience course.
For what it’s worth, the rear-wheel-drive M3 officially manages 28.8mpg in combined driving, roughly matching the Alfa and Audi. Making liberal use of the performance on offer will quickly see this figure tumble. The Benefit-In-Kind tax rate is 37% and the official CO2 emissions figures range between 223-230g/km depending on wheel and drivetrain choice.
The BMW M3 has not undergone a Euro NCAP test but the 3 Series on which it is based scored a full five-star rating. The 97% score for adult occupant safety is particularly impressive. The M3 should fare even better when it comes to safety as it comes standard with LED headlights as well as advanced parking and driver aids that are only optional on most lower-spec 3 Series models.
The BMW M3 is offered with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty with an option to extend it up to a maximum of 100,000-miles. Service plans and roadside assistance programmes are also offered by BMW.
The current M3 is relatively new to the market so its long-term reliability is yet to be established. There have been two recalls so far, one for an incorrectly tightened seatbelt assembly and the other for a driveshaft component that may not be sufficiently durable.
Configure your own M3 on carwow
Save on average £5,495 off RRP
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.