2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive

Performance review: 2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive

Enthusiastic, strong and muscular driving

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Curious tech enthusiasts always speculate that we’re living in a simulation. The hypothesis inspires no one but the most hopeless nihilists, and holds that our reality and the basic rules that govern it are so artificially evolved that we have no way of knowing. It is an existential nonsense that hardly deserves the oxygen.

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But for the first time, I sensed that they might be right.

The BMW M3 Competition xDrive is a sports sedan that seems to break reality. This is a physical experience so powerful that one can flirt with annihilation at any moment one chooses, yet he has cultivated that injury never comes. And despite all this sensory overload, the driver would be so at a loss to explain the experience that one cannot understand any other mundane explanation for this dissonance.

Of course, M3 Competition is not actually an immersive simulation. It is a real, tangible entity that exists in the same facts and adheres to them as anything else. But with her modernity and aggressive physicality, the disharmony of the experience is disturbing.

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Ever since the M3 turned into a sedan, it has held its place at the enthusiasts table. But where it was once the fun version of a light economy coupe, today the M3 is an exercise in downright German muscle. Weighing in at a moderate 1,810 kg (2,260 total), the 2022 M3 Competition xDrive makes 503 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a supercar-matched acceleration figure of 3.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 290 km/h.

This isn’t just power in the grumpy, crowd-pleasing American sense: BMW M has delved into technology to maximize the utility of that power, allowing drivers to steer and power without inefficient wheel spin or hitting barriers. As a result, the platform extends to supercar performance, as demonstrated when the M3 platform’s sister competition G82 M4 was published. Nürburgring time is faster Even from a Lexus LFA Nür, Zonda F or Koenigsegg CCX.

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Offering available all-wheel drive will be a point of contention for RWD M3 fans, but BMW has done it right. Not only does the M xDrive hook up and recall the daily transmission case, its powered front end accommodates its own tuned geometry, as well as modified steering ratios to balance the circuit-widening effects typical of AWD adaptations. The xDrive transfer case has also been revised for thermal efficiency under load, ensuring consistent traction performance under heavy use.

Rear-drive owners can separate the front axle at will, and this ability may be critical in justifying the xDrive route for shoppers. More than just taking advantage of off-line traction and pull through corners, adding all-wheel drive to this powerful car makes it more efficient and manageable for most of the year. Leading the competition deep in the snow in a major blizzard in Toronto in 2022, I appreciate the confidence given and the ease associated with applying more of the new M3’s power. Thanks to that rear bias, I was still able to have plenty of rear-end fun with predictable traction control on all wheels when it came time to straighten out.

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For all its power, the M3 xDrive is as intimidating as it can get. The joy of feeling muscle tension with each threatening rotation of the skeleton is ensured by a precise and intuitive response. And as disappointingly numb as the power steering – remember the steering weight is not the way to go – it’s wonderfully accurate and very manageable. Even as a traditionalist on manual steering, I find myself grudgingly respecting these systems.

It’s objectively impressive, but like a TV show interpolated to 60fps, something is off. Even on winter tires, the car sways and moves around the potholes without blinking – but also without saturating the tactile response. There is a tickle in your sensory processing that something is amiss, but without any objectively recognizable error. The drivers are present and feel all the good vibrations, but without a sense of how any of them are.

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But what is more controversial is how it has changed. M3 Competition models are only available with the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission “Normal” M3s can still be ordered with a quick three-pedal setup. While it’s an understandable engineering decision given the Comp’s heavy torque load and xDrive’s AWD requirements, it’s snappy at a delicate moment. The sunset on the manual transmission is causing enthusiasts to be more in demand than ever while they’re still available, and this absence at the top of the range is likely to draw the attention of some enthusiasts to the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing.

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In addition to bewildering synthetic driving experiences, there are unique facts to consider.

Ostensibly, living with an M3 broke my usual behavior, and I used to park the G80 in the nose. This serves several functions of the new M3: it allows the driver to appreciate the car’s majestic background on approach while at the same time saving their disappointment from seeing the double-decker grille. More so, such a situation saves the neighbors from seeing the creepy grilled car you bought. Yes, the face is still bad and the BMW should feel bad.

However, this ironic statement still holds true: You don’t have to see it from behind the wheel. And fortunately, behind the wheel is a very nice place to be for more than just driving. The cabin experience wasn’t one of BMW’s strengths, but finally, after decades of fading disappointment with black plastic, BMW has built something impressive. The dashboard is an elegant sculptural piece, which makes effective use of contrast materials and glossy carbon fiber. The carbon-faced pop-up panel hides the cup holders and a snug wireless charging pad, letting eyes fall on the small set of controls surrounding the M motor selector. The digital gauge layouts are eye-catching but responsive, although a more traditional connection graphics option would be appreciated. .

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2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive
2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive

Even better, the M3 is equipped with M Carbon Bucket electronically adjustable seats. These unshakeable buckets are solidly supported, with pneumatic sides that hug and a center shaft that keeps thighs spread and strengthened. These seats, which support cornering forces nicely, are pleasing to the crowd but are better designed for the healthy, aggressive enthusiast than the everyday driver. Climbing in and out is an awkward and uncomfortable process, and as enthusiastically I welcomed them into my week in competition, that novelty might spoil in the long run.

With that in mind, note that these seats will likely prove to be a valuable option for later resale—especially if this is the last of the non-hybrid M3s. The $8,500 carbon package isn’t an easy pill, but come on – you’re spending $100,000 on 3 series. Likewise, non-company M3 shoppers would do well if they thought of identifying a guide while they still could – it’s a lackluster experience that posterity will demand.

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It’s not a reasonable car on a reasonable scale—not least at $90,800 for MSRP and 12.7l/100km combined (good luck getting you close to that) an economical rating of 93 octane. As tested, the coveted $6,550 premium package and hefty $2,480 destination fee take the carbon-equipped M3 Competition xDrive to $110,475.

2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive
2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive

The big question, then, is what to do with all this. The M3 Competition may still be just a sedan in terms of looks, but it has become David Supercars Real Estate Agent goliath. You get places in a hurry, with a rude sense of the occasion. The M3 Competition xDrive is a great car, and aside from being pricey, this match of performance and utility is almost a bargain.

But without the traditional reactions – and at this digital pace – what is lost in translating her thrilling novels is the journey there. It’s the precision of a computer mouse’s click and the excitement of whatever result comes along, but with the equally limited satisfaction of just pressing a button. This does not mean that the G80 is boring. The inputs lack emotion, but the M3’s outputs are really exhilarating in different ways. It’s a world away from the brand’s old enthusiast standards, and it takes a while to get used to it on its own terms.

Its driving dynamics may seem simulated, but the benefits of the 2022 M3 Competition xDrive are certainly real. All-wheel drive suspension is understandable for a storied RWD breed of car, but the M3 makes a backup to answer everyday and enthusiast use cases alike. The M3 has what it is, a welcome present in this late chapter of the internal combustion era.

Look beyond the face and admit its boisterous elegance. It’s not the M3 as we’ve come to know it, but its new, high-tech, high-production flavor takes the model in a direction I can’t help but appreciate.


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