Road test review 2022 BMW M3: one of the best cars, but ...

Road test review 2022 BMW M3: one of the best cars, but …

MALIBU, CA – The Encinal and Decker Canyon roads present serious challenges to anything on four wheels. They are impossibly narrow, twisty, and require the driver’s attention. Larger vehicles hold up on these roads, including those with exemplary performance credentials. The 2022 BMW M3 is certainly no small car, as the latest generation of the G80 3 Series swells into proportions that match the venerable models. E39 BMW M5.

Despite this, the M3 danced meticulously through an uninterrupted series of rear and releases thrown at it by Malibu’s demanding roads. A fiery yellow line was crossed, and a crumbling rock wall was not grazing. Thanks to the steering here, something that hasn’t been said about BMW since…Ah, I’m finding it hard to think of something since the E90 BMW M3. This version is very different from what was found in that V8-powered masterpiece. This directive is much lighter in effort. Some might say too light, but I’d say they’re wrong. Haft is not equal to sport. You don’t need the muscles of this car, you can steer it precisely with your fingertips. The Porsche looks like that, too, and while the M3 doesn’t quite rise to that level in terms of feedback, this does represent a delightful new horizon for BMW that we hope will flow into everything else in its fleet.

Now, like seemingly every car these days, there are adjustable steering settings. BMW makes it very easy to tune it just how you want it, with a dedicated ‘Setup’ button in the center console and two red paddle buttons on the steering wheel that can be preset with the mix and match setting of your choice. The M1 became the driver’s daily setup (everything in the Comfort except the steering because, despite what I just said, I preferred more heft and sharpness in the center than the Comfort setting), while the M2 had most of the stuff in the more aggressive setting. The engine and suspension stand out by adding an additional Sport Plus option that goes beyond comfort and sport, and while I chose that with the engine, I left the suspension in the middle ground Sport. The roads were too bumpy for the tougher setups, which is more of an issue with maintaining body composure around corners than protecting the spine.

Speaking of which, the new M3 deserves a big round of applause for its ride comfort. I drove it from just north of Malibu to San Diego and back (about 280 miles) on the Los Angeles buffet of rough pavement, and I was amazed at how well the adaptive suspension was able to shake everything thrown in its way. I’d be driving this M3 cross country tomorrow if you need to, no brainer. This is in contrast to the BMW X3 M Competition and its rocky ride, which I didn’t want to put up with for more than a block.

Surprising comfort points also go to the $4,500M carbon M3 bucket seats, which have proven supportive over long distances despite their narrow bolsters and relative lack of padding. Hard seats tend to be more supportive. All that said, these seats are ridiculous. You can see through it as a start: at the shoulders, in the backrest and on the lower struts, which look like Porsche Cayenne’s grab handles instead of the seat bolsters. It’s also made of carbon fiber with rarefied padding, which means you need to be very careful when getting into this car. Your thigh or precious pieces might be a shameless welcome. And getting out of the house isn’t graceful either. Then there’s the weird mid-thigh support, which I suppose helps keep you in place through corners, but you have to have very skinny legs so you don’t start digging into your thigh while using the clutch.

Oh yeah, and this M3 had a six-speed manual transmission. That means it has 473 horsepower instead of the 503 M3 Competition automatic, plus a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds achieved by a professional driver versus the 3.8 seconds achieved by almost anyone with a right foot. Do I care? I’m not. For pounding around the mountain roads in Malibu, for a big road trip or just for a drive to the grocery store, I’ll take the guide, please. Thanks to BMW for continuing this choice. It’s very easy to drive, with an easily adjustable clutch, a BMW gearbox (the throws will be too long and rubbery for some) and the pedals perfectly positioned for throttle. Automatic downshift to match the rev is also among the options you can select in the drive mode presets and, as usual, does a great job at ensuring perfect downshifts every time.

As for the engine, there’s no denying that it has performance advantages with 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque flowing through the rear wheels only. It seems like an appropriate amount of power, versus that kind of silliness, when – you’re really going to use that excess from many of today’s turbocharged engines. It sounds good too – I’ve already turned off the M sound control optimization which seemed to add pressure to my ear drums and make the engine squeaker louder – but this isn’t the most resonant engine by M3 standards. You don’t think about it just to hear it, as you do with the pre-Turbo generations. But that’s fine, things are moving.

Finally, let’s talk about the paint color you see here. If you’ve looked at the M3 component on BMW’s website, you’ll notice that the Verde Mantis isn’t among the options. This is because it is a custom order through the fine BMW Individual program. Beyond that, it is not listed among the options suggested in BMW Individual Visualizer. It’s exactly the color, a sentiment I’ve heard a lot while driving the M3. I’m a big fan of the vibrant colors in relatively dim cars, so I have no qualms with that as an option even if it’s not quite my (green) cup of tea.

Of course, a subdued color would probably be a good idea because it draws attention away from the car you’ve slipped into. Some say the M3’s giant nostrils are starting to grow on it, but they will form if you give it a chance. It’s outrageous, and would totally forbid me to buy this car despite it being one of the best I’ve driven in recent memory. It would be a top 10…but this face.

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