Bmw M3 Saloon
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Review Of The BMW M3
The new BMW M3 Saloon is here to continue the formidable legacy already created and left by this iconic performance car. Among powerful super saloons, it stands out thanks to its striking looks, and is as fun to drive, sporty, and practical as ever – it’s just as fast as the 911, but has more doors.
The M3 is now over thirty years old. BMW have perfected it so much over the years that it’s become the benchmark against which all others are judged. But, despite what we may think, being the benchmark isn’t enough to convince all buyers. And now that the German brand have chosen to swap its naturally aspirated engine for turbochargers, some might be unconvinced that the M Division is still the yardstick.
OSV takes a closer look to find out what the new BMW M3 is all about.
On The Road
Twin turbochargers have been introduced, with the primary aim being to comply with environmental regulations – as well as save you some cash at the pumps. The M3 still offers super car performance, though, and the sole engine in the range can thrust you from a rest to 62mph in just 4.1 seconds, making it quicker than the Audi RS4.
Keener drivers might point out that turbochargers mean the engine won’t sound as ferocious as before. This is true, but the six-pot unit can be paired up with an optional sports exhaust that goes some way to correcting this issue.
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The engine is more than capable, and even at low speeds you can tap into a wealth of power. This means you can overtake without changing down a gear, though one downside is that the rear will slide even if you just lightly caress the accelerator. Traction-control, however, offers some sense of security.
The suspension setup is becoming of a performance car; it’s stiff, which means that you can approach bends with pace. You don’t have to drive it like a sports car all the time, though – comfort mode offers a pleasant alternative that pretty much turns this beast into the regular 3 Series saloon.
You’ll either love or be frustrate by the 19” alloys. They’re large and do capture a lot of road noise, before sending it indoors. Your only alternatives are the even bigger 20” alloys, which come as an optional extra.
Interior, Design & Build
This may be a sports saloon, but it’s still comfortable. The interior is designed to be welcoming and ergonomic, despite its other sporty pretensions, such as a driving position that neatly cocoons you as though you’re in a racing car.
Other sporty touches include M badges scattered here and there, as well as body-hugging sports seats and a small steering wheel. The steering wheel and driver’s seat are fully adjustable, while parking sensors add to the usefulness of the car.
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In terms of gadgets and entertainment, the sat-nav gets pride of place on a huge screen, while the nicely elevated centre console is where you’ll find all your driver-focused controls.
This is a super car/performance car/super saloon, but there is still a good amount of practicality on offer. It’s as quick as the Porsche 911, but comes with the advantage of a pair of extra doors. The 480-litre boot is also impressive; no smaller than the one in the regular 3 Series, it’s got more than enough space to cope with the a average buyers needs, although a high load lip will frustrate.
Legroom is good upfront but more restricted in the back, thanks largely to a wide transmission tunnel. The two seats upfront are heated, while storage spaces include cup holders, a decent-sized glovebox and deep door pockets.
There is only one specification to choose from, but it’s generously equipped. Standard kit includes 19” alloys, a carbon-fibre roof, metallic paint, xenon headlights, cruise control, an 8.8” colour screen, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring and automatic headlights.
The list of optional extras is quite extensive. Among those we’d recommend are the M-DCT twin clutch transmission, the £6,000 ceramic brakes that will be ideal for enthusiasts, and an Active Security Pack for added safety and confidence.
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Costs Of The BMW M3
Prices for the new car start out from £56,600. If you prefer to lease the car, you can pick up a deal from as little as £975 per month + VAT. For more information on our BMW finance and lease deals, you can check out our page here.
The M3 is cheaper to run than last time around, but that isn’t saying a lot. There is no way it was going to be worse. However, average returns from the automatic model of 34mpg is pretty good and hard to argue with when you consider how much performance is on offer here. Opt for the manual – which costs less to buy – and fuel economy drops to 32.1mpg.
In terms of road tax, if you go for the automatic model you’ll pay £265 per year, while the manual will set you back £290 a year. Fuel-saving tech, such as stop-start and regenerative braking, has helped to improve numbers this time around. Insurance, however, remains high, and the car sits in group 45.
Pros and Cons Of The BMW M3
There is an edginess about the way this car looks. It’s got a snarl to it that should please keener drivers who want their saloon to look as sporty as possible.
Great Fun To Drive
BMW’s have a reputation for being fun to drive, and the M3 is no different. It’s like you’re behind the wheel of a car in a PlayStation game. Bags of entertainment from a car that feels like a rocket ship at times.
Its four-door body strengthens this super saloon’s claims to be as practical as it is sporty. It’s got more doors than the 911, five seats, and an accommodating boot.
Doesn’t Sound As Exciting As It Once Did
Although it looks as though it would rip your head off if you let it, it doesn’t sound as beastly as you’d either want or expect. The wild engine note has been suppressed this time around, which is a disappointment. The reason for this is the controversial introduction of turbochargers.
Surprisingly Not The Most Fun To Drive In Its Class
The new M3 isn’t actually the most fun to drive in its class. Some sports cars are more entertaining.
BMW M3 vs Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 vs Vauxhall VXR8 Saloon
Let’s see how the car fares against two of its rivals in the comparison section of our BMW M3 review.
BMW M3 vs Mercedes-Benz AMG C43
The new Mercedes-Benz AMG 43 is more accessible than its V8 stablemate, but despite having 107bhp less power, it’s still a convincing alternative to the M3.
It can deliver up to 362bhp, which once upon a time would have meant that it was the top dog in the AMG range. In 2017, it’s what you’d call semi-skimmed. It gets all that power from a 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 engine that pairs up with four-wheel-drive for a composed and powerful driving experience.
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It’s quick, and can do 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds before maxing out at 155mph. Delivery is explosive and it’s fairly easy to drive.
One of the impressive things about the Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 is that it’s capable of being a refine cruiser just as much as it is an out-and-out performer. Moreover, when you do want it to mimic a rip-roaring super car, you can turn the driving mode to Sport+ for a magnificent soundtrack delivered by both the engine and the exhaust.
The noise is a tad synthetic, yet the drive isn’t. The chassis specification is largely taken from its C63 stablemate, which means that precision and accuracy is assured, while weighting is consistent.
The fact that there is no V8 engine actually makes it easier to drive than it otherwise would have been. It’s engaging, and there is plenty of comfort on offer. A nine-speed automatic gearbox is less ferocious than some might have hoped, but it helps to improve economy and emissions. The C43 can achieve average fuel economy returns of 36.2mpg, while emissions stand at 178g/km of CO2.
The car looks great too, and possesses all the usual AMG aesthetics, such as big punctured intakes and vents, as well as larger rear and front bumpers.
BMW – £56,600
Mercedes – £46,280
BMW M3 vs Vauxhall VXR8 Saloon
The new Vauxhall VXR8 Saloon has muscle car pretensions, and its audacious looks certainly show it. This is a high-performance saloon that’s as raw as they get.
Like the BMW and the Mercedes, there is only one engine in the range, a 6.2-litre V8. It can produce up to 425bhp, which is enough to thrust you from a rest to 62mph in just 4.2 seconds. Handling is even better than last time around, while acceleration at high revs is almost unbelievable. The steering is well-weighted and accurate, while the massive brakes fitted in the Vauxhall VXR8 Saloon are the biggest ones yet fitted to an on-the-road Vauxhall. As such, you don’t have to worry about all that immense power getting out of control.
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The engine is wedded to a 6-speed automatic ‘box that’s adequately smooth in automatic mode, and crisp in response. You won’t as much sharpness from the low speed response in the manual, because the automatic transmission numbs the early acceleration.
The V8 is a loud engine, and it won’t just seep into the cabin like smoke – it will break in. Even when you’re out for a cruise, things will still get decidedly noisy. Wind noise will also be noticeable at times, while the tyres are not exactly quiet. However, it’s worth remembering at all times that this is a muscle car, and it sounds just like you’d expect it to.
The interior is roomy and comfortable enough, with more space in here than there is in similarly quick cars. Head and legroom should be good enough to accommodate five adults, while the boot is no smaller than a standard saloon’s.
In the past, the Vauxhall VXR8 Saloon was seen as a cheaper alternative to its German rivals – it was something of a bargain by all accounts. Not anymore. It now demands a £50,000 asking price, and comes saddled with awful residual values. It’s also super expensive to insure and you’ll need deep pockets to keep it on the road regularly. Moreover, the tyres will wear out quicker than the BMW’s.
You’ll be paying £505 a year in road tax if you go for the Vauxhall, thanks to emissions going as high as 363g/km of CO2. Meanwhile, the best fuel economy figure you can expect to return is 18.5mpg, and only if you drive it a bit more sensibly than usual.
Vauxhall – £55,000 – £57,200
Verdict Of Our BMW M3 Review
Seen purely from an uncompromising driving enthusiasts point of view, the new M3 might be a bit of a disappointment. The naturally aspirated V8 engine has been replaced by turbochargers for the first time, and there are better sports cars on the market.
However, to dismiss it out of hand would be folly. Mid-range urge is stunning, efficiency is much improved, and the car can make a number of pricier super cars blush. Add in a good amount of practicality, quick steering, and stellar body control, and the new BMW M3 is an inspired choice.
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