The M3 goes through reverse puberty.
It’s not just the bottle opener grille sticking out like teeth that need braces. It is also the allusions to younger drivers and the gaming culture that are clearly expressed: the narrow-waisted carbon fiber bucket seats, the square centimeter touchscreen. They send out distinctive vibes before shooting forward with the equivalent of a cheat code: launch control. In a way, the ultimate driving machine has become the ultimate gaming device.
The high score still means a trip into the real world. For me it meant a trip to North Georgia on the first really spectacular weekend of the year. The M3 and I Benjamin buttoned over the lowest of the Palachians, squeezing between cyclists, bikers, and lazy weekend riders as I weeded out this M3’s hot take on high performance.
2021 BMW M3
The heart of the M3 beats with the same rhythm as the 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M.. The shared 3.0-liter in-line 6 hammer with two turbochargers delivers 473 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque in the base M3 and 503 hp and 479 lb-ft in the Competition model.
BMW specifies a 0-60 mph of 4.1 seconds for the base car and a top speed of 155 mph; It’s set to 180 mph with the available M Driver’s Package. The M3 competition saves 0.3 seconds to get to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, with the same top-end results. On the freeway, the struggle is unreal – the struggle to limit all that power. The M3’s natural cruising speed appears to be around 85 mph no matter what road you’re on, and it’s nothing to look down and spy on three-digit numbers when you get lost in coffee and license plate reviews.
The shift takes place in another postcode in the relaxed phase of M3. Base M3 sedans have rear-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual transmission, but this competition has an 8-speed automatic. Not all-wheel drive yet, though promised in the coming months, with a rear-wheel drive mode.
The M3 could write the explanatory story about stability and tracking. It attaches itself to the road surface and eliminates vertical movements without chattering teeth over the seams of the road surface. It’s as flat and unyielding as a cop’s voice when he tells you to get out of the car. I switch between other cars in traffic as I switch between the top 40 countdowns in America (in the 70s and 80s, of course). The M3 gives me a blending brush worthy of Bob Ross.
2021 BMW M3
I get off the freeway for less-divided roads while Georgia kicks off the best corners of Los Angeles on Millholland Drive. It attracts me with brown signs pointing out state parks – and on the roads that lead to them laden with hairpins that are deeply embedded in valleys with very little runoff. I turn left to begin the 47 mile hike through mountains that look like a green bedspread wrinkled on an unmade bed, lean into the gas, and engage the limited-slip differential to ignite the M3 like a bottle rocket.
The M3 answers the call immediately. It forges widely dispersed exes into a singularity thanks to all that power, despite its 388-pound curb weight of options and people. The double-jointed strut front suspension and adjustable dampers make for an amusement park ride that sticks to the surface as I float an inch out of the seat. I’m surprised that the M3 is a bit slimmer. When drilling into the tightest kinks, it compresses and then tilts it in curves with more gradients than I need or want.
Time to switch to M mode, the red ears on the steering wheel that require preprogrammed adjustments for fuel consumption, shift points, brake sensitivity and steering weight. The M-paddles can just as easily stand for “rocket”. The M3 begins to seek its warmth when I click the left one, which puts it in Sport mode across the board, and remodeled the head-up display from a benign speedometer to a large hockey stick of a tachometer that slides over the windshield cuts. Set these parameters to your liking, hold the M mode button and create a favorite – this is a skin on the M3’s performance interface.
2021 BMW M3
As I switch, I make sure to leave the M3 in one of its less permissible traction and stability control modes. I travel 30 foot gradient zero-drain roads and cyclists struggling to climb hills. Apparently everyone got the message this weekend: Get out of the COVID logs by going outside. I have to pick the right corners to beat them up.
I sew together half a dozen uninterrupted curves and find out what is not quite right. The steering of the M3 is vague in the middle. It’s the difference between a good iPhone shot and the same .RAW file from a Canon 5D Mark III. The depth of information that BMW has delivered in M3s has been filtered out to something that is close to the original. The slightly fuzzy center makes it too easy to add too much steering on a turn and has to pull back a little. It’s like I said with the last generation M3: It’s spectacular in high-speed sweeps, Quibbly in canyon carving.
It’s not for lack of tires. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires 275 / 35ZR19 at the front and 285 / 30ZR20 at the rear touch the clean asphalt road. The M3 can also pull itself down impressively. The huge standard brakes, which include six-piston calipers clamped to 15-inch rotors at the front and single-piston calipers that bite into 14.5-inch rotors at the rear, have been swapped out for carbon-ceramic units here who react to it as well as they can go to the brake-by-wire setup of the M3. It’s not as consistent as less digitally intensive setups, but the car stops when needed.
I’ll leave the BMW Drift Analyzer alone. It can even record the duration, distance traveled, line and angle of a drift with a rating displayed in the instrument cluster. There is no way to do this safely today, even in a church parking lot. Reaching out to a certain crowd is a great idea – the drivers who don’t care about clean lines, who view wasting profiles as a lifestyle.
2021 BMW M3
The M3 demands a steady pimp hand on the order form. It’s easy to step up to $ 100,000 or more with additional leather trimmings and more digital tools and toys. I drove a $ 73,795 M3 competition with $ 1,950 in oxide gray metallic paint, $ 2,550 in gray and black leather, $ 900 in M Drive Professional programming, $ 8,150 in carbon-ceramic brakes, $ 3,800 in carbon bucket seats, and $ 950 in carbon fiber liners, and $ 4,700 in the open air, and $ 2,500 for an M-driver package – all valued at $ 99,595 .
If you have enough carbon and ms to get around, this is where you can save. Take the carbon fiber buckets. And give it to someone else. These sports seats have an elaborate racing shell with holes cut out to reduce their weight. They’re stiff, narrow, pinching, and have a carbon fiber insert that looks like a fold-up codpiece. Gold star for precautionary measures, but I’d pass by in exchange for more lumbar support and maybe an inch or two more room at the H-spot.
Skip the carbon ceramic. They are show ponies. Pass on the carbon fiber cladding as well. Even this real stuff looks amateurish, especially on the shift paddles.
Also take the available extra cruise control (which is only offered on the Competition car) knowing there isn’t a good place to pull your foot back. There is a hump behind your right heel that blocks any comfortable position that does not allow you to accelerate.
Spend the extra on brightly colored leather and correspondingly dark color combinations: light colors play on the unfortunate grille of the M3. Unless you want to be seen. We would also opt for the head-up display and enjoy the standard audio system and well-executed touchscreen infotainment from BMW with good voice command recognition and intelligent switching between the native environment and the superior voice-text effectiveness of ple CarPlay.
2021 BMW M3
The head-up display enchants me as it warns of “dangerous left turns”. If only it could warn me of the cyclists, cars, and motorcycles lined up in front of me like they’re running heat at the mood-shattering Olympics.
I’ll be on their marshaling point soon enough. There’s a whole Tour de France with bicycles and single-seaters parked along the streets that lead to the nearest university town. They make it impossible to push a car like this to its limits or even enjoy it: the Jaguar XF trying to impress, the trio of C7 Corvettes, the BMW M2 who can’t keep its ass on its lane, one Whole Shelby Mustangs divorce court spinning and jockeying around alpha position. A Lambo. An Alfa 4C, for God’s sake.
You all notice the M3, of course. How could you not We all make a spectacle of ourselves so I’m signing out. I don’t want to be that driver to upset the hikers who have congregated at every single trail head and scenic view.
The mountains belong to all of us, after all, and spring is here. It occurs to me: hold on Tuesday mornings if I want to enjoy the kind of ride that was possible here in something like the M3 a decade ago. Better yet, hit the track where your limits are closer and safer within reach.
BMW brought me an M3 contest with a free layer of pollen from spring in Georgia. It’s like they know me.