20 April 2014
BMW’s M3 has always been all about performance and the latest model does nothing but underline this heritage with searing pace. The M3 has progressively moved up the price scale and it is now in contention with some very serious performance car players.
BMW’s M3 has always been all about performance and the latest model does nothing but underline this heritage with searing pace. The M3 will charge from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, or 4.6 seconds if you opt for the seven-speed double clutch M DCT gearbox with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. There’s nothing wrong with the slick six-speed manual gearbox and it’s more of a pleasure to use, and on the move there’s nothing to tell the two gearboxes apart in the way the M3 gathers speed in an instant. The 4.0-litre V8 engine howls its way to an 8400rpm limit, delivering 420bhp towards the peak of its rev range. At lower revs, the engine feels every bit as muscular and is also flexible around town, which also goes to prove the latest M3 has lost none of its everyday usability in its pursuit of supercar performance.
The M3 may share its looks and a fair amount of its bodywork with the standard 3-Series Coupe, but the M car’s suspension is bespoke. Most of it is crafted from lightweight aluminium to save heft and also help the suspension go about its work with less momentum to overcome as the wheels move up and down over bumps in the road. It’s devastatingly effective in the M3 and lets the BMW ride with more suppleness and panache than most sports cars can manage. Just as importantly, it carries the car through corners with unwavering grip and aplomb, helps along by steering with just the right sense of feel and assistance. Together, the suspension and steering let the driver use the M3’s balance and rear-wheel drive set-up brilliantly in any conditions and on any road.
BMW has a longstanding tradition of building solid, reliable cars and the M3 should be no different, even with its more highly stressed components due to the car’s sporting prowess. There were some worries with the previous generation M3’s engine but the latest V8 motor seems to be tough and long-lived. The rest of the mechanical components should cause no concern and the interior is every bit as well made from hard wearing materials as every other BMW 3-Series. If only the M3’s cabin was a little more distinct from the rest of the 3-Series Coupe range.
The M3 comes with one of the most sophisticated ESP traction control systems fitted to any car. It can be left fully engaged, completely switched off or placed in an intermediary setting that allows a certain amount of latitude in the wheels’ grip in corners before reigning in any excesses. There are also hugely powerful brakes with anti-lock fitted that has a clever way of drying the brakes in wet conditions by applying light force to the disc, while twin front, side and curtain airbags protect occupants. As with all BMWs, security is top notch thanks to an alarm, immobiliser, and deadlocks.
In Coupe form, the M3 is at its purest in terms of form and performance, but for function the saloon version is more practical. That said, the M3 Coupe still offers a decent, if oddly shaped, boot and enough space in the rear seats for two adults to while away a journey in decent comfort. More relevant is that the Coupe makes it trickier to install and fetch children from the back seat. Up front, the driver is treated to a great driving position with plenty of movement at the steering wheel and in the seat. The main instruments are clearly to see and the centre console is uncluttered and makes finding the right switch or button a cinch without distracting the driver from the road ahead. Steering wheel-mounted buttons for the stereo and cruise control also help with safety and ease of use. The i-Drive controller works a simplified version of BMW’s labour-saving system and it’s a great deal less complicated than previous versions of i-Drive. There are also short-cut buttons on the centre console, which does make us wonder why the i-Drive is needed in the first place.
The M3 has progressively moved up the price scale and it is now in contention with some very serious performance car players. There’s no doubt the BMW can compete with their pace, but it’s also a little too ubiquitous for some tastes and this is reflected in the used values of the BMW not being quite as strong as some rivals’. However, resale values are still one of the M3 key attributes as plenty of used buyers appreciate its all-round versatility. They will also need to appreciate the cost of servicing an M3, the price of tyres that it can get through at an alarming rate if the driver is keen and that an M3 Coupe is rarely likely to match the claimed 22.8mpg combined economy (23.7mpg for the M DCT-equipped versions). Add in group 20 insurance and carbon dioxide emissions that place the BMW in the top company car tax and road tax brackets and it’s not a cheap car to own. However, it does come with plenty of standard goodies, including climate and cruise controls, leather seats, CD stereo and parking sensors and satellite navigation.
Submitted: 04/11/2009 09:47:54
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