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Behind the new M3's questionable grille is a performance saloon that is unquestionably excellent, unimpeachably capable and undeniably best-in-class.

12 May 2021


It really isn't thaaat bad.

Yes, the new kidney grille on this new generation BMW M3 has been quite the controversial topic. But now that it has been a few months since the car was first unveiled, and having spent more time looking at it, it really isn't that offensive.

Is it a bold choice? Of course, it is. But you know what? I don't really care. The M3 is a bold choice of a car no matter how it looks. And ultimately, it's how it drives that actually matters.

A bold face

This Launch Edition model comes with the M Carbon exterior package
The M3 has undergone plenty of evolution over its multiple iterations. This newest generation model brings a whole raft of changes, headlined by that new kidney grille.

I don't really want to belabour the point - yes, it's not the prettiest design choice, but besides that, the rest of the car looks sharp, aggressive and undeniably sporty.

The inside is pretty standard M car goodness, combined with the latest technology that BMW has on offer. You get carbon fibre detailing across key touch points like the centre console and steering wheel, which adds to the car's overall sporty demeanour.

Proving ground

The new M3's steering is sharp, precise and responsive
Where an M3 truly cuts its teeth is out on the tarmac (twisty tarmac, particularly). On this front, the M3 is vastly improved. The occasional looseness of the predecessors rear end has been replaced by unflappable traction and accuracy.

The steering is delightful - sharp, precise and continually responsive to your steering inputs. The suspension is great. It's relatively pliant when driving normally, but load it up through a few corners and BMW's penchant for making driving-focused cars really come through. This M3 handles fantastically - precise and responsive in a way that no other car in its class can match. It demonstrates an agility that defies its 1,730kg kerb weight, with direction changes dispatched with clinical precision, aided by a sharp and responsive front end.

Most importantly, the car is just so settled across just about every road condition you'd find in Singapore. In the previous car, there would be instances over big bumps or dirty roads where you'd have a moment with the car's rear end (and your own, too). That's just not the case in this new M3 - the sheer composure and unflappable traction is breathtaking.

The 503bhp 3.0-litre engine helps the M3 sprint from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds
The new chassis is remarkable. Balanced, taut and responsive, it delivers a level of potency and agility that's unmatched in its class.

Power is wrought from a 3.0-litre engine, sending 503bhp and 650Nm of torque to the rear wheels. That's obviously much more power than anyone actually needs, so outright speed is a given. Where the engine feels different is in its power delivery - there's a greater breadth of torque, making performance more freely available and accessible without having to wring the engine hard. 

The M3 now uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, and that's probably the one aspect that I'm unconvinced about. Functionally, it certainly works - it's smooth, shifts are slick and seamless, and there's nothing inherently wrong with the gearbox. I just think that the previous DCT box, with its hard-hitting and aggressive shifts, was more suited to the personality of the M3.

A proven weapon

The new M buttons on the steering wheel let you quickly select preset settings
With its blend of dynamic sharpness, easily accessible power and sure-footed handling, the new BMW M3 is a corner-carving weapon that is easily best-in-class. It's more potent when you need it to be, yet it's also more pleasant when you're just needing to get from home to office. It's a more well-rounded car now, and that's objectively an improvement.

Will it please every single M-enthusiast? Probably not. Some people just want their cars to be loud, obnoxious and a little bit of a pain in the ass. The older M3s could very much be those things. This new M3 is admittedly a little lacking in aural excitement (the Mercedes-AMG C63 S is more engaging on this front), but that's a small compromise to make for what is an otherwise vastly improved package.

The new M3 raises the bar for performance saloons, delivering handling and dynamic capability unmatched in its class
This new car has sharpened out any of the bluntness from the previous generation model. Not only is it much better to drive when you push it hard, the improved overall composure also means that its more forgiving to ham-fisted drivers trying to do their best F1 driver impression.

Personally, I really enjoy this new car. As a performance saloon, it just makes much more sense as a whole package, blending intensity and vivid dynamic performance with an improved sense of daily usability and accessibility.

And that controversial kidney grille? I honestly couldn't care less.

Car Information

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BMW M Series M3 Sedan 3.0 Competition Launch Edition (A)
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Price

: POA

Engine Type

:

6-cylinder in-line M TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

2993cc

Horsepower

:

375kW (503 bhp) / 7200 rpm

Torque

:

650 Nm / 5500 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A) M Steptronic with Drivelogic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

3.9sec

Top Speed

:

250km/h

Fuel consumption

:

9.9 km/L

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bmw  bmw m  m3  m3 competition  bmw m3 competition  m,