The BMW M3 is a high-performance version of the popular BMW 3-series, available in sedan, coupe and convertible styles. They are noted for their superior engines, better suspension, handling and braking systems and sports body enhancements. It came to market in 2007 and has proved highly popular in the niche top-end market.
The M3, especially in coupe form, is incredibly easy on the eye. Just one look is likely to see you hooked, and it gets even better once you get inside. The M3 features some distinctive aesthetic touches to help it stand apart from its 3-series counterparts. Look for the “M” details throughout the car, including the plate on the doorsills as well as the smart embossed M incorporated into the hand-stitched leather steering wheel. At this price point, the little details are important to many purchasers.
The M3’s interior is plush without being overdone. In typical BMW style, it is supremely comfortable in an understated manner. The sporty leather seats are some of the best on the market, offering all the performance of a bucket racing seat combined with the comfort one would expect in a luxury sedan.
A typical M3 comes fitted with a 4.0-litre V8 engine creating a tremendous 309kW at 8300 rpm and 400Nm of torque at 3900 rpm, coupled with 6-speed manual transmission and driving via the rear wheels. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h can be achieved in 4.9 seconds. If the driver wants to make the most of the power, they should opt for the M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic, which offers seven gear ratios and super-fast shift times.
While the BMW 3-series is an exceptional vehicle, the M3 takes it to another level. The 18-inch alloy wheels are served by twin-piston, vented, and cross-drilled brakes at the front, and single-piston brakes at the rear. In short, the handling of the M3 is sublime, both in coupe format and in full sedan form.
Running costs are high, which is not surprising given the power and spec of the M3. Drivers should expect to spend well into double figures per 100km if running the M3 to the max. BMW quotes 12.4L/100km with a fuel tank capacity of 63 litres.
The introduction of a four-door option in 2009 transported the M3 into the market for family cars – albeit with a difference. While the coupe remains a popular choice among younger men, those with a family will appreciate the extra rear seat space for the kids and the extra boot space for the buggy.
The M5 comes with plenty of kit as standard, including TV, DVD, I-drive (interactive) system with voice commands, heated seats, dual-zone climate control and satnav. As one would expect from a car of this calibre, the M3 is packed full of safety gear and scores five stars for its ANCAP rating.
The 2012 models include a high-spec competition package option, with 19-inch alloys and a light carbon-fibre roof as standard on the E92 model, borrowed from the successful CSL predecessor. Expect to also find adaptive bi-xenon headlights, Park Distance Control to front and rear, auto rain sensors and High Beam Assist and BMW’s unique iDrive system – a user-friendly interface made up of an LCD panel on the dash through which the driver and passengers can control the satnav, air conditioning, audio system and communications. Bluetooth phone connectivity comes as standard, although iPhone/MP3 are currently connected via USB due to an electronic glitch in the system.
The BMW is widely considered to be best-in-class for this type of vehicle, competing strongly against its competition, including the Mercedes-AMG and C63, the Lexus ISF, and the Audi RS. It also competes within the BMW camp with its sibling car, the M5. For a car that holds its value, the M3 is an excellent choice. The Porsche 911 is another contender, but if practicality outweighs style on a list of must-haves, the M3 is the vehicle to choose.