BMW M3 Review
2016 BMW M3 – Click above for high resolution image gallery

BMW M3 Review

Car Tested: 2016 BMW M3; Road Test No. 722

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,64,05,141/-

The BMW M3 is a proper sports sedan and begs you to push it harder to explore its wild side

I first got a chance to drive the current generation BMW M3 at the Madras Motor Race Track in Chennai last year. The experience was exhilarating to say the least but since it was a track drive with quite a few participants, the entire experience was under a controlled environment and we couldn’t really push the car to its limits to check out its capabilities. This time around, we’re driving the same M3 but what has changed is the fact that we’re not driving it on a track, but on open stretches of tarmac where we can push it and check out what the M3 is capable of.

MotorQuest: The BMW M3 has evolved a lot over the previous generation. The older car was a pleasure to drive while the current one is also no less. However, with so many electronics being incorporated in these new cars, things have become safer for novice drivers while experienced drivers still know how to extract the best drama from these vehicles.

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The M3 has sportier looks over the regular 3-Series and yet it doesn’t feel too flashy

Exteriors – I like how the M3 looks very sporty and aggressive without the styling going too over-the-top or flashy. It continues to retain most of the design elements of the 3-Series but you do get some bits that distinguish the M3 from, say, a 320d. The front and rear bumpers get scooped out curves while you also get a bigger and rounder air dam up front. At the rear, you get quad exhausts which again reveal the sporty intentions of the sedan. The side profile is more or less similar to the regular 3-Series but you do get low profile tyres wrapped on smart looking alloys. The ORVMs also get a new shape which seems to be more aerodynamically friendly. Apart from that, you get air vents with ///M badging on the front fenders.

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The interiors are neatly laid out with control falling in easy reach

Interiors – Even on the inside, a lot of major components are shared with the regular 3-Series sedan. The dashboard continues to retain the same driver-friendly layout. The dash comes in a shade of black along with doses of carbon fibre spread across the inlays. The centre console carries a similar layout as the 320d but what’s different are the few additional buttons on the side that let you adjust the settings for the steering, suspension, etc. You also get M-Sport seats which are too damn comfortable and provide a good amount of support to your body parts. The rear seats too are quite firm and supportive but leg room is just about average. All round visibility is pretty good and ergonomics are also well-sorted.

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The inline-6 engine is an absolute stonker

Performance – The BMW M3 is powered by a 3.0-litre engine putting out 431 horses at 5500 RPM and 550 Nm of twist at 1850 RPM. The powerplant is a twin turbo inline-6 unit, sending power to the rear wheels. BMW has matched the engine to a 7-speed gearbox which is quick enough to get the car running from 0 to 100 km/hr in 4.1 seconds. The throttle is very responsive and the M3 gains pace the moment you start pressing the pedal. At city speeds, the M3 is easy to drive and turbo lag is almost negligible. Thanks to the not-so-large size of the sedan, it is easy to close gaps in traffic without much fuss and the engine and gearbox work in great tandem.

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Power delivery is brilliant and the M3 flies low in no time

The 7-speed tranny is quick enough and the 3.0-litre engine has oodles of grunt

After dodging Mumbai’s irritating traffic for well over an hour, we finally landed on a completely open stretch of tarmac and it was time to let loose. Stomped the accelerator and the M3 picked up triple digit speeds in no time and soon enough we were itching towards the 200 km/hr mark. What’s remarkable is how seamlessly the car makes you believe that you’re doing speeds much lesser than what the speedo is showing! However, such a car is more enjoyable with the steering mounted paddle-shifters which are a JOY to use. You can also shift gears via the gear lever which slots into S mode allowing you to shift cogs manually.

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Quite a few driving modes and settings on offer with the M3

You also get the usual driving modes to choose from – Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, etc. We were driving on Sport for most of time where the steering and suspension get nicely stiffened up. In Sport+, the issue is that the suspension becomes so hard that the car starts feeling very bouncy, especially on our uneven roads. The 7-speed gearbox does a very good job and is quick enough. The engine loves to be revved all the way to its 7500 RPM redline and the exhaust note is also pure music to the ears. If you’re in the mood for cruising, the M3 will manage 100 km/hr in top gear at 1800 RPM.

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The M3 feels very controlled and you need to work hard to extract all the drama

Driving Dynamics – If the BMW 320d is such a good handler, you can expect what the M3 will be. The steering is direct and precise and weighs up brilliantly. The M3 has just splendid body control and it feels very, very predictable if you’re driving it within limits. Even you push it very hard, the electronics will let you have some fun before the DTC kicks in before things get too scary. A remarkable aspect of the M3 is that it feels very controlled and doesn’t get dramatic very easily, unlike the Mercedes C63 AMG S. If you want to have proper fun with the M, you need to push it right to its limits, and only then does the true character of the car comes out. The ride is definitely stiff on this one but once you start gathering speeds, your back won’t complain much. The brakes feel very sharp and shed speeds confidently and in no time.

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High tech safety equipment is a given on such cars

Safety and After Sales Service – The BMW M3 is loaded with a ton of safety features like Dynamic Traction Control, ABS, Stability Control, front, side, overhead and knee airbags, pretensioners, etc. You also get a high tech security system to prevent vehicle theft and unwanted intrusion. BMW has a good spread of service centres across the country so servicing your M3 won’t be much of an issue.

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The M3 is one fun to drive and practical sleeper car

Verdict – The BMW M3 is an excellent sports sedan which has brilliant performance and dynamics. The looks are sexy without being too attention-seeking and the interiors are also a great place to be in. The M3 makes for a really good buy if you know your cars and know how to push them to extract that perfect amount of drama and adrenaline. Don’t worry if you need to drop your kids to the school before doing all that, because the M3 also excels in practicality just as well!

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The BMW M3 makes good sense even as an everyday car

What’s Cool

* Inline-6 engine is a beast, splendid performance on offer
* Handling characteristics are unmatched
* Perfectly packaged for a daily driven sports sedan

What’s Not So Cool

* The C63 AMG S makes the M3 feel a bit tame

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The M3 is definitely fun, but not as dramatic as the Mercedes C63 AMG S

Testers’ Note:

“With two less cylinders on the F80 M3, the old engine is definitely missed but the new one manages to give similar thrills while also keeping efficiency and emissions in check. The BMW M3 is a fun car to drive and has oodles of power on reserve, once the turbo kicks in, you are in for some serious acceleration. But the V8 engined Mercedes-AMG C63 S is still the more fun car for me.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“Many of us want cars which can be sedate while driving to office on routine days and can spell performance when you want to have some fun behind the wheel. The BMW M3 is one such vehicle. I love the way this car literally comes to life when you floor it with some sharp dynamics and sweet engine note. Love this shade of blue too. But if i had to pick a car in this segment, the C63 AMG would easily outshine the M3 as a better and more fun performance car.” – Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.
“The BMW M3 comes across as a proper package of a sports sedan that can be driven on a daily basis. With sedate driving mannerisms, it feels just like a regular 3-Series but its true character shows only when you give it the beans. I liked how the sedan handled corners with its precise steering. However, picking one out of the Mercedes C63 AMG S and this one would be a tough call.” – Parth Gohil, Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Further Reading

BMW 320d M-Sport Review
BMW 3-Series First Drive Review
BMW 3-Series Diesel Review
BMW 3-Series Petrol Review
BMW 3-Series GT Review
BMW 3-Series vs Mercedes C-Class vs Audi A4