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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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wowscore
9/10
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Exceptional to drive
  • Plenty of power
  • Decent-sized boot

What's not so good

  • Alternatives are more comfortable
  • Looks divide opinion
  • Estate version not arriving for a while

BMW M3: what would you like to read next?

Is the BMW M3 a good car?

The BMW M3 is a high-performance saloon alternative to the Audi RS4, Mercedes-AMG C63 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. This much-loved stalwart has long been the king of performance saloons, and is adored for its ability to pack bags of power into a family-friendly package. It’s back another generation, but not without a bit of controversy in its design.

Imagine the BMW M3 a bit like your other half rocking up home unexpectedly with a tattoo one day that you knew they wanted, but secretly detested the idea of. It’s long been known BMW had plans to shove the huge front grille you see on the M3, despite outcry from enthusiasts not to do it, and, well, they’ve done it.

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 makes 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.

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.

For no extra cost in the BMW M3, you get a fantastic infotainment system on a 10.1-inch screen. It’s intuitive and dead easy to use, plus there’s finally support for Android Auto in addition to Apple CarPlay. Both can be connected to 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.

The new BMW M3 is nothing short of sensational to drive, and I’m excited to see how blisteringly quick the all-wheel-drive version will be.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

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 an estate ‘Touring’ version is on the way.

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 510hp 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 as part of a package that also includes carbon-ceramic brakes, but it’ll cost you £8,000. Gulp.

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 amazing levels of grip all-round.. It feels sharper than the likes of the Audi RS4, yet not as intimidating as the outgoing version.

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 comfortably with 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.

How practical is it?

Boot space is pretty good in the BMW M3, though you’ll have to wait for a little longer for an estate version if you need more. 

Boot (seats up)
480 litres
Boot (seats down)
-

This new BMW M3 is a bit longer than the old car as well, so there’s more room in the back for passengers. Legroom is good and the rear doors make access easy if you’re using this is a family car.

Upgrade to the carbon bucket front seats though and there’s even more space for your legs in the back. They won’t suit those of larger build, however.

There’s a reasonable amount of boot space in the BMW M3, with 480 litres. You get an electric tailgate as standard as well, which will help take off the load if you’re lugging in loads of cargo.

If you’re after more room there, an estate ‘Touring’ version is planned to come but it’s unlikely to arrive before the end of the year.

What's it like to drive?

The BMW M3 is a sublime and sharp performance car, but alternatives are a bit more comfortable

Powering the M3 is a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six engine that’s good for 510hp and 650Nm of torque in Competition form, sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’ll fire the M3 from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a 155mph limited top speed. You can get that limit raised to 180mph as part of a package that also includes carbon-ceramic brakes, but it’ll cost you £8,000.

There is a lower-powered version of the M3 available in other markets too, which has the option of a six-speed manual gearbox. You can’t get that in the UK, though. Sorry purists.

When you’re driving it hard, the BMW M3 doesn’t feel quite as spiky and unpredictable as the old car — largely in part because of amazing levels of grip all-round. It feels sharper than the likes of the Audi RS4, yet not as intimidating as the last M3.

It’s not just a brutal performance car though, and does the normal stuff pretty well. Switch everything into Comfort mode and you can cruise along pretty comfortably with lighter steering, though the suspension still has a pretty firm edge to it. If you want something a little more everyday-friendly, the RS4 is the way to go.

What's it like inside?

A fan of carbon fibre? You’ll be right at home in the rather spacious BMW M3. At least there’s no mistaking it for a regular 3 Series.

BMW M3 colours

Metallic - Black sapphire
Free
Metallic - Brooklyn grey
Free
Metallic - Isle of Man green
Free
Metallic - Portimao blue
Free
Metallic - Skyscraper grey
Free
Metallic - Toronto Red
Free
Solid - Alpine white
Free
Solid - Sao Paulo yellow
Free
BMW Individual metallic paint - Aventurine red lll
From £1,100
BMW Individual metallic paint - Dravit grey
From £1,100
BMW Individual metallic paint - Oxide grey
From £1,100
BMW Individual metallic paint - Tanzanite blue
From £1,100
Individual paint - Frozen Orange II
From £2,985
Individual paint - Frozen Portimao blue
From £2,985
Individual paint - Frozen black
From £2,985
Individual paint - Frozen dark grey
From £2,985
BMW Individual special paint - Frozen Brilliant white
From £3,985
Next Read full interior review
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