4 out of 5 4.0
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Devastatingly adept super saloon is flawed and brilliant

BMW 3-Series M3 (20 on) - rated 4 out of 5
Enlarge 14 photos

At a glance

New price £74,250 - £96,260
Lease from new From £887 p/m View lease deals
Used price £59,895 - £88,875
Fuel Economy 28.0 - 28.8 mpg
Road tax cost £490
Insurance group 41 - 42 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Brilliant to drive
  • Fairly practical
  • Compelling engine

CONS

  • Very expensive BMW 3 Series
  • Controversial styling
  • Aurally not exciting

BMW 3-Series M3 rivals

Alfa Romeo
Giulia
3.9 out of 5 3.9

Written by Murray Scullion on

Is the BMW M3 any good?

The BMW M3 is the hardest, fastest, and most expensive version of the BMW 3 Series. It's an extreme super saloon with 510hp and a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds.

It's really, really good assuming you're going into ownership with your eyes wide open. It's not only the most expensive 3 Series in the game, but also the least fuel efficient and most uncomfortable.

What's it like inside?

The seats are the biggest talking point here. If you spring for the M Carbon Pack (or the Ultimate Pack) the sports seats that come with it are super hard and tight carbonfibre affairs with a prominent beam in the middle inbetween the driver's legs.

This is supposed to mimic racing seats that have three-point harnesses. They're quite comfortable when you're sitting in place but getting in can be difficult.

Look around the cabin and it's pretty much the same cockpit as you'd find in the regular 3 Series. This means it gets BMW's simple to use iDrive which allows you to use a scroller or a touchscreen. Using the scroller is easier on the move, especially in a car where you crash around so much.

Rear seating isn't too bad. The seats are solid but there is room for four assuming your passengers don't mind the hard ride.

The M3 may be a performance saloon, but it retains quite a lot of the practicality of the 3 Series. At 480 litres the boot is on par with the regular 3 Series, meaning it can be used as an everyday car.

What's it like to drive?

We should mention that this is the first M3 to be available with four-wheel drive. Purists drone on about rear-wheel drive layouts but the truth is, that for the majority of the time cars with this installed still feels rear biased.

Because of this, it drives sweetly and neutrally. The steering is fast, going from lock to lock in very few turns. This means you need little in the way of steering input, making it more precise.

It works masterfully. The M3 disguises its weight (1,805kg) adeptly at speed and when manoeuvring in tight spaces. It's easy to place which makes it easy to drive.

The 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo engine is ferocious. It revs sweetly from 2,500rpm right up to its redline and it feels like there's a bottomless pit of power. No one will feel like it's lacking from that department.

Aurally it doesn't have the panache of a V8 like you'd find in a Mercedes-AMG C63. In fact, it can sound a bit tinny, especially around 4,000rpm or so.

Despite the eight-speed gearbox not being a sophisticated double-clutch setup, it's super quick and the ferocity of its changes can be turned up and down, which is helpful and very nerdy.

Comfort is compromised when compared with a regular 3 Series. The ride is firm in most drive modes but when you've got the car in its sportiest settings bumps will throw you around in your seat.

What models and trims are available?

Buying an M3 is pretty simple. There's just one model for sale in the UK - the Competition. As standard it comes with rear-wheel drive, but can be specced with four-wheel drive called xDrive too. 

Of course, BMW needs to allow people to spend more money so there are many packs to choose from.

The biggest one is the Ultimate Pack. This comprises four out of the five packs available and includes options such as carbon fibre exterior styling, semi-autonomous driving features, keyless entry, an electric bootlid, heated steering wheel, and carbon bucket seats.

Click to find out whether we think the BMW M3 is worth going for...

BMW 3-Series M3 rivals

Alfa Romeo
Giulia
3.9 out of 5 3.9

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