Ask the enthusiasts around the world why they keep BMW in the high pedestal of performance cars and the answer will be:
BMW makes drivers cars; Cars that you feel involved with; Cars that have an emotional connection with you and; Cars that tugged the strings of your hearts like no other.
BMW, having not satisfied with creating some of the finest driver oriented cars in the world, went ahead and set up the M division, during 1970s, and the rest, as they say, is history. The M division churned out some of the legendary BMW models and has cemented its place among the best of what the world had to offer in performance motorsport engineering.
If a question was posed to pick the best product to come out from the M division, most of the enthusiasts will choose the M3 without hesitation – the car is legendary in performance circles and is usually considered as the EPITOME of M division's engineering and dynamic prowess, combined in a single package. The car never fails to raise any performance enthusiast's goosebumps – and having evolved through generations E30, E36, E46, and E90, the current F80 M3 is nothing but a heady concoction of truckloads of power, razor sharp control and lighting fast gear shifts.
Before heading into the detailed review, just to give a glimpse of the performance the M3 offers, sample these: 0 to 60mph in 3.8 seconds, quarter mile covered at 12 seconds, and a mid-range that can match Lamborghini Huracan – NO, you are not dreaming – these are the numbers the M3 comes with and this gives the car bragging rights, much higher than the price tag suggests.
The F80 M3 is as digital as it gets – the engine is mated with a lightning fast DCT gearbox (there is a 6-speed manual also available, if you are so inclined). The car comes with 9 chassis settings, 6 transmission settings, multiple stability control settings – but the question to ask is – Does this digital overload dilute the man-machine relation the M series is famous for?
The F80 M3 was launched during model year 2015, but when BMW released the updated 3 series for model year 2016, they didn't left out M3 – the M3 got minor updates to keep the family look. The changes on the exterior are really subtle – there are new LED tail lights and BMW has added few new shades to the shade card and that is it. Inside, the car gets loads of chrome accents, an updated navigation system, a high-end audio system by Harman Kardon, keyless entry and ambient lighting.
The M3 continues to come with the turbocharged inline-six powertrain, differing from the tradition of M series offering only naturally aspirated engines, under the hood. So, the trusty old V8 is gone forever, replaced by the delectable twin turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine churning out 425hp and 406lb-ft of power and torque at peak, respectively, while this is not earth shattering, or even bettering the competition, there are loads of power in all the power bands when you need it and even when you are at the top gear, you won't feel the need to downshift, unless you are in a very tarmac scorching mood.
The M3 is kitted with carbon fiber-roof that saves weight and lowers the center of gravity, and the hood and fenders are made of aluminum that further reduces the weight. In addition to the roof, the trunk lid and the drive shaft are also made of carbon fiber. The heavy usage of all these weight-saving materials has resulted in M3 shaving off an impressive 80 KILOS from the kerb weight, and have helped to lower the center of gravity, aiding the handling. The use of aluminum have continues under the body also, finding space in many suspension components like control arms, wheel carriers, axle sub frames etc. The suspension is tweaked to handle all the power and you can kit your car with the optional adaptive suspension with active dampers that improves the already razor sharp handling to a new level. All the weight saving has resulted in M3 having an impressively low kerb weight.
The car comes factory fitted with 18-inch wheels draped in low profile tyres, adaptive Xenon headlights, active locking differential (which helps greatly in harnessing the power), a sporty performance exhaust system, exclusive body work including body kit and aerodynamically designed panels that are aimed to minimize the drag and maximize the cooling while lowering the lift and improving the grip, etc. The cabin gets 10 way powered and heated leather seats with cloth accents, multiple memory settings and 4-way power lumbar support function, keyless entry and ignition, fold down rear seat backs, cruise control and dual zone automatic climate control (with updated software and interface for the model year 2016). The car also gets a sunroof, auto folding mirrors with dimming function, automatic wipers etc.
The interior boast a HIGH DEFINITION 8.8-inch display, the famed iDrive, the ConnectedDrive suite of applications, high-end 16-speaker Harman Kardon music system, navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, etc. There are a lot of options to PERSONALIZE your M3 – you can add options like
- A heads up display
- Heated steering wheel
- Adaptive LED headlights with auto high beam control
- Carbon ceramic brakes, etc.
In case of Assist front too, the options available are many, such as
- Blind spot assist
- Lane departure warning
- Surround vision camera
- Frontal collision warning system with automated breaking
- Self-parking assist, etc.
The car comes with an impressive safety kit – front, side, curtain and knee airbags, traction control and a stability control that has some nifty touches like self-drying brake rotors, anticipatory automatic brake pad preparation for quick break performance. The car also has automatic crash notification and stolen vehicle recovery as standard features.
The performance of M3 continues to be the same – raw, visceral and sharp, with enough poise and panache. After all, it is called as the KING OF PERFORMANCE sedans and the new F80 M3 also does justice to the title. Everything about this car – the engine, the suspension, the brakes, the gearbox, the exhaust, even the grilled up front and the thought process behind building this car and there is not even a single element that is out of place. Everything feels just right and tightly put together. The brakes offer right amount of bite, the gear throws are just enough long, the engine offers stupendous performance at the blink of an eye, the steering wheel is quick and linear, and the gear changes are lighting quick in aggressive modes, if you are driving the automatic.
The car is no beauty queen, and do not SCREAM the arrival from rooftops, but if unadulterated performance is your cup of tea, then the M3 offers kettles full of that.