It’s not often the boss lets me take the luxury brands out of the garage – left consigned to the reasonably priced passenger vehicles.
So when handed the keys to the 2016 BMW M3 Competition, I relished the opportunity to test drive and review my first BMW for Behind the Wheel.
For the uninitiated, the M3 is the sportier version of a BMW 3 Series, possessing similar dimensions and levels of refinement but that’s probably where the likeness ends.
The BMW M3 is best car I’ve personally ever driven. In terms of driving dynamics, handling, power and build quality, there has been no comparison.
Throughout the ride, the chassis feels stable and really solid, with a weightiness that doesn’t make it heavy rather more grounded matching the physique of the car.
The steering and handling is nothing like I’ve felt before, so direct and precise you could guide the M3 round a 5 cent coin. The wheel responds to your every subtle movement and puts you in touch with the road.
In ‘Sport’ acceleration is immediate and steep, but not fidgety and glides up the tacho evenly. Control of the vehicle is aided by the three closely positioned pedals. All the while you feel a calmness in the cabin as the body holds firmly together and control is assured in the driver’s hands.
And you won’t believe it, there’s yet another level; Sport Plus is just…..insane.
BMW claims acceleration of 0-100kph in 4.2 seconds. I won’t dispute that.
Interestingly, you can drive the M3 slow and sensibly like any average BMW and you wouldn’t know the difference but has power to burn if you need it.
Unlike many other sports/performance cars like, say, the Subaru WRX STI, the M3 doesn’t feel like a bull in a bullpen always wanting to go.
Even in normal mode there is more muscle than most standard cars though with a gentler acceleration curve and a less aggressive engine note.
The BMW M3 is to James Bond as the WRX STI is to Jason Bourne. Suave and sophisticated but macho and deadly.
The manual transmission is the way you’d want to drive this beast; gates are short with clearly defined notches, perfect for quick precise gear changes. I had some trouble with slipping into reverse when intending to select first but that was more down to user error.
However, there is always a sacrifice to be made and with an engine like that you can be sure it’ll guzzle petrol like it’s happy hour. I clocked 10.2L/100km with mostly sedate driving.
Aaand, there’s also the price tag. The BMW M3 will set you back in excess of 140 grand with the additional parking assist ($675) and metallic paint ($1840) on my particular vehicle bumping up the price to $147,130.
Aside from performance, you do get some luxury features for your dollar like heated and powered seats, a harmon/kardon sound system, adaptive LED headlights, auto start/stop, top and side camera views, sat nav, DAB+, and a touch screen with BMW’s ConnectedDrive. All the necessities without going overboard.
The best parts are the usual BMW joystick control next to the hand brake and the head up display projected in front of the driver displaying not only your speed but driving warnings and radio stations.
Around the cabin is carbon fibre with black chrome accents and full leather black seats with cutouts on the front sports seats.
The exterior is just as attractive with black high-gloss highlights, quad tip exhausts, 20” forged alloy wheels with a star spoke design, (very) low profile tyres and some rather fetching blue callipers.
Everything about the car is well put together. From small touches like M colour stripes on the seatbelts and small blind on the small rear quarter window, to the tactile feel of the leather interior and controls, and the general build quality and presentation. Even the exhaust note on start up is delicious, making everyone aware of your presence.
I haven’t driven a car with better performance - the 2016 BMW M3 Competition really belongs on the track - but combined with this level of luxury it is something everyone should experience.
NUTS and BOLTS 2016 BMW M3 Competition
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo petrol producing 331kW and 550Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Warranty: 3 Year/unlimited km
Safety: Not yet tested
Price: From $144,615