I can’t remember when was the last time a new BMW M3 caused such a bipolar public reaction. Oh wait, I can… never. As far as I can remember, 2020 was the first time ever that news of the next generation of M3 car audience was made public with such a sharply polarizing opinion. There was no gray area when the first photos were released, just a black and white love or hate affair.
There were two things that caused such chaos in the automotive world. First, the clear language: The G80 has one of the most intriguing and questionable design languages in the sports sedan world, period. Second, there is an associated weight gain for a car of this history and pedigree. Since the new M3 is more powerful and BMW has kept the power-to-weight ratio roughly the same as with the F80, what’s the fuss then?
M3 Story – Born into Motorsport
Mostly because when it comes to M cars, it’s never about absolute power. The story of the BMW M3 began in the demanding and unforgiving world of motorsport. This meant that the company needed a car that could compete in the DTM in compliance with the FIA’s Group A regulations. But you cannot simply produce a one-off car for racing purposes. To meet the FIA’s homologation requirements, BMW needed to produce 5,000 copies of the competition car. This leads to the development of E30 m 3The first M3 and the start of a legend.
Today, the vast majority of manufacturers make their cars faster by adding more power. It’s easier. For cars derived from the motorsports divisions, it’s the other way around: you have to play with weight, physics, geometry, and more. It’s tough but that’s what makes these cars the best chauffeur cars.
So since I’ve always been a fan of BMW for its ability to create a car that’s perhaps less powerful with each generation of its competitors, but lighter and more agile. Thus faster on the right track. My main concern from day one has been that the weight specification is more than the controversial design. The first M cars always had a lightweight DNA. Therefore, after 35 years, the bar of expectations was really high. But when someone tells me that the new G80 M3 weighs 1730 kg, the first thing that comes to mind – it must be wrong. But it wasn’t. Will the M3 lose the title of one of the best sports cars of all time?
The heaviest M3 ever
My first impression: Probably not. Weight is a physical issue and while we absolutely can’t do anything about its existence, the amazing thing is that I actually couldn’t feel that number in real life. The geometric plane put into place in the process of strengthening the structure makes these figures almost irrelevant. Truth to be told, I need to track down some experience so I can feel the geometry and suspension in more grueling conditions.
It’s not just the increase in power that makes up for the extra weight, it’s the chassis, suspension and brakes. Remember road cars drawn from motorsports? Well in 2020, the M3 did it again. It’s always easier to bump into horsepower characters and destroy the competition, but it’s another form of art to achieve the same result in reverse. So how does the new M3 guarantee exceptional body rigidity, increased torsional rigidity and an ideal 50:50 weight distribution? The same way as E3: by developing it with the race car.
This time with the new M4 GT3 Endurance racing car. To make the long story short, longitudinal and torsional stiffness is now at new levels due to specially designed bracing elements. Also, based on the undercarriage reinforcement alone, it seems to me that the G80 should be a bit stiffer than the F80. Not to mention the added struts in the engine bay, raised front axle grip to reduce cornering, and high camber and stiffness. Impressive job to be honest, but that’s what I expected and will always expect from BMW M.
Translate these technical elements into realistic leadership
In simpler terms – the car is cramped. Not stiff, but rather tight and tense. Overall control and exceptional body. Front grip is insane, thanks to the out-of-factory camber settings, wider front tires compared to the previous model, and wider front track. At first, I thought the car presented for a test drive was an all-wheel drive version, but after the rear part broke off a bit, even with the DSC ON, it was obvious what I was messing with. Lowering the 10-stage traction control, after just two steps, allows for a small slip angle. On top of that, some moments felt very progressive, while others felt a little quick. However, any lower setting should be tried on the track and when one is more familiar with the vehicle’s overall driving characteristics.
Of course, some drivers can call “snap” behavior a flaw, but I personally appreciate those little naughty quirks that remind you of a car that could bite you at any time. It sure is great to know that we have reached a point where most of the usable cars on the track are completely normal in traffic. But in recent years, most of those have gone too far, sacrificing emotions for comfort. I still really appreciate every bit of that character that is left in any car to remember the old times.
Another thing that accompanies this feeling well is the new S58 . engine. Even seconds after the ignition, you can feel that you are in a different car, and not in a normal 3-series. This is a serious unit: a 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-line gasoline engine, with a lot of power. There’s an artificial, weird, deep “roar” at the bottom of the rev range, but once it’s passed 4,000 rpm, the louder tone reveals a nice turbo.
It’s not the loudness that catches the eye, but that sharp, 3-4,000-rpm note that reminds me of old BMW 6-axis engines. With all that being said, and the fact that naturally aspirated engines are on the verge of extinction and turbos are the new normal, I have to say, in the M3, the new normal doesn’t feel bad at all.
As I approached the redline, it was time to change gear and maintain that prolonged feeling for a while. I hit the right gearshift paddle expecting an instant reaction, a little kick and an arm! Nothing happens… I mean the change of pace happens, but without the drama it makes me a bit disappointed. It’s not like this was a major flaw, or one at all, but this is the moment that separates the driver from the thrilling experience created from the powertrain and suspension combined.
8-speed automatic or DCT?
BMW says the ZF is able to shift gears in less than 150 milliseconds, which seems undetectable by the human brain, but I sensed a short lag. In both upward and downward transitions. Switching to Sport Plus makes things a little better, but not quite as high as the DCT. ZF is a much smoother transmission, which will undoubtedly provide more comfort in everyday use. However, the revised DCT will better match the G80’s personality.
Again, it’s not about the ZF being bad or sluggish, but perhaps too comfortable for an M. Since the gearbox in a sports car is also a key component of that animal and wild character, the term “very comfortable” cannot be used when describing an M car. The ZF is an amazing transmission that will make the everyday life of drivers a lot easier, but it is better suited to non-M cars.
The M-carbon ceramic brakes provide GI levels that are reserved for track cars. They’re a no-brainer for using tracking and they do well in the city, too. There were no strange squeaks and squeaks, they just felt completely natural and intuitive.
The elephant in the room
Design – elephant in the room. The petroleum world is at the point where the kidney grill is the main topic of discussion when it comes to the new M3. But the situation is a little more complicated than that. Being the “ALPINA MAN” when it comes to styling, the M3/M4 design is clearly not attractive to me.
However, at the same time, the network does not look ugly at all. And it’s not that big in real life. First of all, the M3 has always been a very different car from the standard 3 Series. Also, the 4 Series grill disadvantages cannot be found on the M3. This is simply because there are many design elements that accompany the grill.
This leads me to the conclusion that some of the automotive audience who don’t like the grill, may have a problem not with the grill itself, but with the design around it. The side lines, large hood creases and the rear are sharp and aggressive. All three design elements together speak the same design language. It’s just the front parts around the headlights and the air intakes under the grille are very loose.
One thing is for sure though, the car in person looks a lot better than it did in the photos.
Amazing bucket seats
There are only two manufacturers that offer amazingly comfortable and supportive bucket seats. The only practical issue is getting in and out of the car. But once you put yourself in your shoes, it gets dreamy. From a material quality and design perspective, you’ll be forgiven if you misjudged this M5’s interior. In terms of quality, the interior is exceptional although it may be too modern and futuristic for my taste.
To sum up: the interior quality is great, the powertrain is great for the turbo era, the suspension and geometry are great and the exterior is very sophisticated. Fewer lines and wrinkles will result in better styling and the updated DCT will be perfect.
As always, there is plenty of room for debate when it comes to design subjectivity. Most things are better than they were in the previous generation, some things could have been better. But the truth is that the final evaluation of the product should be relative to the competition and the world of regulations we live in today.
With all these limitations, downsizing trends, and sacrificing temperament for practicality, is this something up to the purists? Yes there is! I like the fact that I can still feel the vibrations coming from the rear subframe firmly attached to the bottom of the chassis. Also, I like infinite acceleration without turbo lag and like the progression and precision of the steering rack. And I definitely enjoy a drivetrain that somehow managed to rip the steering wheel out of your hands even with a DSC ON.
The fact that we got a rear-wheel drive sports car with 500 horsepower and a manual transmission is a boon for car enthusiasts. It must be respected. The G80 is the most advanced, secluded, and guaranteed M3 ever to leave M Town. However, it can still resonate with the driver on this raw animal level even before you hit the rev limiter.
This pretty much sums it up.
#BMW #G80 #wake #child