IT’S impressive how well balanced the BMW M3 Competition is.
It runs the line between contradictions of power and smoothness with finesse and picks its way through potential pitfalls with dexterity and without fuss.
While many aspects of recent BMW cars are curated to exceed the expectations of its potential owners’ needs — be it in efficiency or equipment levels — the M3 Competition also delivers a performance that harks back to the joy of driving.
While early models of the M3 were all about the power and the sometimes brute force available, engineers have got more out of less of late, and the 4-litre V8 engines have given way to a 3-litre inline 6-cylinder internal combustion engine in the latest version.
For those who desire the power. It’s still there, in comfortable surges as the M3 Competition bolts forward from 0-100kmh in under 4 seconds. And it’s done with a delicious roar of approval from the engine, which provides your brain with the stimuli to both appreciate the power and understand its potential.
You can get those sort of speed responses from an electric vehicle, sans engine sounds, which could deceive you brain, but not the law enforcement speed detectors.
Seriously, how do you forego the sensory impact of an ICE machine when the car is not just a mode of transport?
Power On Tap
The smoothness of the power despatched makes for easy driving to suit your mood.
On city roads, the ride is comfortable without being soft. And you have all the safety aids to keep you in lane, alert you of potential dangers, and all the connectivity to ensure your mobile device is in sync with the onboard system — be it the BMW app or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But you get so much feedback from the M3 you want to focus on the driving.
The larger head up display offers you the information you require, and you’ll want to keep your eyes on the road when you do get a chance to gun the engine. Especially useful when you need to quickly overtake slower vehicles, when the 375kW of power and 650Nm of torque start showing their capabilities.
The large paddles mounted on the leather multi-function steering wheel give you quick access to the gear you require, and the two red buttons on the steering wheel — M1 and M2 — give you bursts of power.
Listen to the growling engine yowl when you press M2. Sweet.
Designed To Thrill
The aggressive design of the M3 is a bristling work of sculpted art.
There are several precision design decisions that shape it, with lots of lines and angles to take in — like the large grille, and others, like the wing mirrors, which look incomplete, but are designed to cut down drag. The rims present a complex series of shapes brought together artistically. If BMW can get rid of the nose cone by the next iteration, it will help to sharpen the look of the M3.
A carbon fibre roof with aerodynamic fins also reduce weight and drag.
Inside, the carbon fibre has been inserted where possible, adding a splash of luxe to the plastic and leather.
It’s a family look that incorporates the big screen in the centre and a large, bright dash with lots of information which a normal driver would largely disregard. But, if you were to take the M3 to the track, you’ll find more of that data useful.
The grip in normal driving mode is already tenacious, but as the suspension stiffens as you enter the sports modes, you think it would take some effort to dislodge the M3 from its intended path. The 8-speed M shifter, designed with a hole in the base, delivers quick action when desired, smoothly going through the gears, but is ever willing to hold when in manual mode.
The M3 has always been a poser. Pretending to be a street car, when it’s probably more comfortable on the track. While that used to be an uncomfortable balancing act, it seems to have figured out how to be all things for every one, if you’ve got $500,000* to splash.
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BMW M3 COMPETITION RATING
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