Conspicuous best describes the BMW ‘M3 Competition’ that we are testing this week. With a 0-100km/h time of just 3.9 seconds the stunning BMW is outrageously capable. It is also ‘reassuringly’ expensive priced from €125,000 and utterly joyous to drive – but if I had a euro for every time my pace was matched by other salivating drivers or each time their cars or vans slowed or sped up to track along with me – I’d be a wealthy man!
So what is the big deal with the four-door, five-seat M3 ‘Competition’ other than it being a more practical M4 – remember we had a bright yellow one on test and it didn’t attract as much attention! In Isle of Mann green our test car looks incredible. Glorious flared wheel arches and a low set body stance scream high performance. The contrasting black roof with its two aerodynamic fins, is made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) to reduce weight, the quad exhausts belch out music to any petrol-head’s ears through their electronically controlled flaps. There are aerodynamic touches all over the exterior like the air curtains at the front end and its carbon fibre spoiler on the boot lid.
Okay so even a glance at the M3 Competition reveals a powerful and purposeful car. The four exhaust pipes located in the rear diffuser are huge (100mm diameter each) and they have a practical purpose too – to process out the exhaust gases of the 3 litre six-cylinder petrol engine that in ‘Competition’ guise delivers 510hp and a whopping 650nm of torque! The standard BMW M3 pushes out 480hp and 550nm. The M3 Competition’s 3.0 litre engine with its famed ‘M TwinPower Turbo’ technology really represents the peak development of internal combustion. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic (M Steptronic) gearbox with ‘Drivelogic’ (standard M3 has a 6-speed manual). The M3 competition’s body is very rigid as you’d expect and comes with an ‘Adaptive M chassis’, ‘M Servotronic’ variable geared steering that is wonderfully precise and forged ‘M light-alloy’ wheels in 18-inch size on the front and 19-inch size on the rear axle. The brakes thankfully are fierce and have bite.
Once you manage to get in to, with some dignity remaining, the M3 Competition (we had serious race seats) you’ll find the default ride quality is firm. Adaptive suspension allows the user make the M3 Competition track ready when needed with a press of a button. Drivers can adjust engine output, steering feel, suspension stiffness and gear change speed among many other features. Two customisable M buttons located on the steering wheel ‘M1’ and ‘M2’ can be programmed to deliver more thrills and excitement than Jeff Bezos experienced when he recently dipped his toe in to space. The M3 Competition can be configured for road, sport or track – which can literally scare the daylights out of the less experienced driver – but with the M buttons ‘un-pressed’ the car is as easy to use as a MINI. Although I still had to select 2nd gear (at idle) anytime I wanted to exit my gravel driveway with minimal stone spray.
Our test car is rear-wheel drive but you can also buy and Competition ‘xDrive’ version that with its all wheel drive traction is .4 seconds quicker to 100km/h (3.5 seconds) and is a little more assuring at the limit of tyre/road surface adhesion. Its default 4WD setting delivers maximum traction while maintaining a distinctly xDrive rear-biased power split. The M3 Competition xDrive’s 4WD ‘Sport’ mode sends an even greater proportion of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels to give that glorious rear bias enthusiasts love.
Optional extras on our M3 Competition aren’t cheap e.g. the M Carbon Exterior Styling pack is €7,079, the M Carbon bucket seats – a cool €5,870 – while the excellent Laserlights of the visibility pack cost an additional €2,589. The BMW M3 Competition starts from €124,907 (€127K xDrive), add to that Silverstone and Black bicolour full Merhino leather (€3,453) and a further €17,767 of optional extras and the total comes to €146,128. Co2 emissions as you’d expect are poor ranging from 219-224g/km WLTP. Fuel consumption is not as bad as you would think for such a powerful car at 9.6-9.8 L/100km.
The BMW M3 Competition is wonderful and perhaps the last of its kind and despite all the attention it gathered we love it to bits.