It’s amazing what looks can do. As superficial as it may sound, great looks can make up for a lot of issues. Even if Margot Robbie was a full hat, I would still follow her like a loyal little puppy. The opposite can also happen. Character, personality, and charm can perhaps make up for less than great looks. Take the BMW M3 Competition, for example. It would seem that if a beaver fell into the same bowl of acid as the Joker and somehow managed to appear even more despicable. However, the M3 competition gets away with it because it flips nicely on the ride.
BMW North America was generous enough to lend me both cars, back to back. So I literally got out of a one week test with the M3 Benchmark and took another one week test with the M3 Competition. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it…
This instant contrast really allowed me to judge both cars, their similarities and differences, to decide which one is better. But what shocked me was how different they felt.
Specifications can make a big difference
Before we get into the differences between the two, let’s first talk about the specifications. My competition BMW M3 wore a killer shade of Oxide Gray Metallic, which I could have sworn was actually a bronze. In fact, the loan agreement document I had to sign to borrow the M3 simply mentioned the car as “bronze,” without any clever name. Since the car didn’t come with the usual spec sheet in the glove box, I didn’t know exactly what color it was and a look at the BMW USA configurator online wasn’t very helpful.
So I reached out to a BMW representative who told me it was Oxide Gray. It’s now one of my favorite colors for the M3, with a deep liquid metallic finish that looks bronze in the sunlight and gray in the dark. With black accents and carbon fiber trim, it’s one of the best M3 colors available.
Additionally, my test car was also equipped with $3,800M carbon bucket seats, which were sported in a silver/black color scheme. There is no doubt that carbon bucket seats are a must for the M3. They not only look amazing, they just make the car seem More private even before you go in, but it’s the best seating I’ve ever been to. Yes, getting in and out…is a challenge. perfect. But as soon as you get in, they hug like any other seat I’ve put my ass in. The little bump in testicle velocity in the middle of the thigh rest might be a little annoying for travelers with wide thighs but I have skinny legs so I was fine and that’s all that really matters to me.
Despite this, while driving at speed, it’s incredibly supportive, shockingly comfortable, and more adjustable than it looks. More importantly, it allows you to sit very low, giving the M3 one of the best non-Porsche driving modes I’ve ever tried. Not only does this feel good while you’re driving, but it puts your h point (the location of the driver’s hip point in the seat) more in line with the car’s center of gravity. This allows you to get a better feel for what the car is doing around you, giving you a more connected feeling to the car. also, did you see them?! they are great.
It may sound silly but the optional carbon buckets completely change the feel and character of the interior. In the standard M3, with the regular seats, the cabin felt pretty… well, standard. It didn’t quite look like the cabin of a $70,000 performance machine. However, sitting in those optional containers made the M3 competition Feeling Different, and most importantly, more special. In my opinion, they should have seats. Sure, it’s not very comfortable on long trips but you wouldn’t buy an M3 for long-distance comfort anyway. Take private seats.
No clue, no problem
When BMW first announced that there were two versions of the M3; one with manual transmission and the other automatic; I was sure the less powerful but hand-equipped standard car was the one to have. How not, right? wrong. After driving both, I can definitively say that the BMW M3 Competition, with its eight-speed automatic torque converter, is the best. You can tell by driving a few feet away that BMW M tuned this car first and the manual after that. It is impossible to make perfect automatic transmission calibration with a 3.0L I6 twin-turbocharged engine with three pedals and your right hand (or your left hand, If you are driving on the wrong side of the road).
There is also an immediate sense of the added strength of the competition. Before anyone rolls their eyes, angrily clicks the comment box below, and shouts at me in capital letters, give me a moment to explain. The BMW M3 Competition produces 503 horsepower, which is thirty horsepower more than a regular car. You are right that you would never notice a thirty horsepower difference from peak horsepower at such high rpm in such heavy turbocharged engines.
However, the M3 Competition also has 479 lb-ft of torque, and 73 lb-ft more torque than the standard M3, all available at just under 3000 rpm. Therefore, you press the pedal, at any speed, in any gear, at almost any rpm, and the additional grunt is immediately noticeable. It feels stronger, more responsive and more alive. It feels incredible, fast and brutal. everyone. The. time.
What impressed me the most, though, was how much better the entire car felt as a result. It’s all about the competition. The steering, suspension tuning, and body rolling all felt better. Surprisingly enough, a BMW rep told me that no changes were made to the chassis or suspension for the competition model, so I’m feeling some idiot claiming it feels different but it was. Perhaps it was the M3 Comp’s ability to squeeze more performance out of its powertrain and deliver it in a more instantaneous fashion that made it feel brutally efficient. Whatever the reason, I felt better and drove both cars back-to-back, within minutes of each other, so I’m not making it up.
I’m going to be using a tired auto stereo, so prepare to break down…the BMW M3 competition felt like it was on the rails. I know it’s the sexiest and most widely used description of a BMW in history but it kind of applies to the M3 Comp. It changes direction so quickly and with such a small roll of the body that it actually feels like a rollercoaster. There’s this stark feeling that the car is taking over the pavement – and the physics – to succumb. Almost violent, in how to change direction, in the best possible way.
Because of that incredible speed and grip, I felt like a superhero behind the wheel. However, when you want to be an idiot, it will make you an idiot. will slip. gradual, neutral and manageable; But only when you request it. If you want to be nice and tidy, you will do that too. It’s a performance-friendly and versatile vehicle that makes you feel invincible behind the wheel while still being completely in control.
Sometimes high-performance cars with this capability feel as though they’re doing it all for you, because they are. And I’m sure the M3 Comp was doing it all for me, making me look like a much better driver than I do now, but I never really felt like that. I felt like I was the kicker I wish I could be.
The BMW M3 Competition is the kind of driver’s car that inspires confidence not only in its capabilities but in your abilities as a driver. It makes you trust in what she can do but also in your own input. M3 Comp’s translates your input in a positive way; The inputs you enter are directly related to the movements of the M3, so you quickly gain confidence in both the car and yourself. This is the kind of chauffeur car you want on a twisty and tricky road.
Nothing is perfect
Are there drawbacks? Definitely. Because it is a good driver’s car; Such an incredibly competent machine; It can feel a bit clinical. It feels more like a fine instrument, not a spiritual being. For example, I think the M3 Comp will run episodes around the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio but it can’t match the Alfa for the character. The Italian car looks like a living thing.
It is also expensive. Sure, its under $73,000 starting price isn’t bad but once you add metallic paint, those killer seats, and a few other bells and whistles, you’re over $80,000 and that’s way too much for an M3. The BMW M3 was always a mid-ranger car that middle-class people could aspire to own but its $80,000 price tag (and he could easily push six figures with the right options) pushes it beyond that range of availability.
Finally, I still don’t think it looks good. I said it with the standard M3 and it’s my objective journalistic duty to say it again – it’s not the best looking car. And it’s not just the network. Oddly enough rear wheel arches, painfully fake air vents, vanilla taillights, and lack of a Hoffmeister grille give the M3 the kind of generic sports car out of Grand Theft Auto. It’s nothing like the M3. In fact, it doesn’t really look like a BMW. This bothers me.
Will I buy one?
With all that said, pros and cons, I’d still buy one tomorrow if I could. It’s a great car and it could be the best M3 ever. I have to drive it back with an E46 M3 to see if that’s really true, but the fact that I’m wondering about it makes me incredibly happy. The 2021 BMW M3 G80 competition proves that the M division can still beat the snot from the competition (pardon the pun) if it wanted to, and I absolutely love it.
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