Road test results of BMW’s latest M cars continue to roll in, and they’re adhering to the same trend BMW enthusiasts have bore witness to since the era of turbocharging arrived over a decade ago. The M3 Competition exceeds its on-paper capability according to Car and Driver, and overcomes its lack of a manual transmission by way of blistering acceleration. It also posted remarkably improved fuel economy over its predecessor and exhibited a heightened connection with the road, by way of communicative steering and chassis tuning as a whole.
On paper, the G80 M3 Competition weighs 3,890 pounds, or 60 more than the base-model G82 M4 with a six-speed manual transmission (3,830 pounds). According to Car and Driver, the difference between the two was actually 111 pounds, but when it came to straight-line acceleration performance, it didn’t matter. The M3 Competition was tested as accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds compared with the 3.8 seconds of the six-speed M4. In terms of the quarter-mile, the M3 Competition covers the distance in 11.6 seconds at 124 mph, compared with the M4 at twelve seconds flat and 121 mph. Things narrowed when it came to the five-to-60 mph rolling start, with the M3 Competition doing it in 4.5 seconds, and the M4 in 4.7. Road-holding was identical between the two at 1.03g, but the M3 Competition once again demonstrated its capability over the zero-to-100 mph acceleration test, reaching triple digits in 7.6 seconds compared with the M4’s 8.3.
As you are likely aware by now, the current BMW M3 and M4 are offered in three variations each: there are the base-model six-speed manual cars with 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, the ZF eight-speed automatic-equipped Competition variants with 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, and finally, the Competition xDrive models which can actually put all of that power and torque to the ground effectively. The difference in horsepower comes courtesy of the Competition derivatives’ S58 M twin-turbocharged inline-six engines swallowing 24.7 psi of boost compared with the stock 18.9.
While extracting more horsepower from the same 3.0-liter engine with the same 9.3:1 compression ratio, the M3 Competition, aided by its smarter-than-the-driver ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, returned 22 mpg over Car and Driver‘s testing, a substantial difference of five mpg over the six-speed G82 M4’s seventeen. Over the 75-mph highway driving test, the eight-speed M3 Competition returned an impressive 32 mpg for a total of 490 miles worth of highway range. The observed fuel economy calculation of 23 mpg and the 75-mph calculation of 32 mpg indicate that the M3 Competition is more fuel efficient than its EPA fuel economy ratings of sixteen city, 23 highway, and nineteen combined—impressive, but that’s not why people buy these cars.
The professionals that tested the M3 Competition for Car and Driver also complimented the car’s connection with the road, which is said to be improved over the outgoing generation, and better than the rest of the current lineup. Whether or not something so subjective actually holds true is up to the individual driver, and to find out, there’s no substitute for a firsthand test-drive.
The M3 and M4 lineup will soon be graced by the presence of M xDrive, which is likely to boost acceleration into another realm of performance. Car and Driver say the G80 M3 Competition is the fastest M3 they’ve ever tested, a record that is almost certain to be broken by its own grip-enabled stablemate. On the opposite side of the same coin however, those who’ve driven the latest M cars still say they’d trade the acceleration for the experience of the manual transmission, and above all, we share the sentiment and applaud BMW for offering such a wide range of options.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]