Driven - September 2017

BMW M3 Competition Package: Worth the extra money?

BMW M3 Competition Package Driven

When you’ve ruled a segment for decades, it’s hard to keep pushing the benchmark forward. BMW has been in this position for many generations now with the competition having closed the gap significantly. Remember the normally aspirated C63 AMG? Yes, the one that caused a fair bit of confusion for E92 M3 drivers. That was one stunning car, from its noise to its looks. It proved to be one hell of a rival for the M. Now we have the likes of the turbocharged Mercedes-AMG C63 and the infamous Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio Verde. The competition has done a great deal of catching up and some have even questioned if the M3 is still the benchmark. The facelifted M3 is a stunning piece of kit, the obvious choice for those who need some space and performance, packaged with aggressive styling and shiny 20-inch alloy wheels. That’s what tells passers-by that your M3 is a Competition Package, besides an M3 badge finished in black.

BMW M3 Competition Pack

Internally, the difference comes in the form of more power, 331 kW to be exact. 550 N.m is a boat-load on the chassis of the M3, so much so that the vehicle is in constant attack mode, looking for any excuse to light up the rear wheels. This particular example we drove was finished in Sakhir Orange paintwork and had an aggression to it that we’ve never experienced in an M3/M4, and we’ve driven many an M3. Despite the added power and louder exhausts, one’s got to ask the question, is the Competition Package worth the extra money? At R135 000 more than a standard M3, the reality is that with the Competition Package, the added power is not the only thing the vehicle gives you. The whole car feels somewhat different. Anyone who’s driven an M3 will tell you that you can’t drive that car in anger with a nonchalant attitude. Do that and you’ll end up on YouTube under the “BMW fails” title. The Competition Package is still as lethal, but somehow slightly more forgiving, probably due to the larger rubber fitted to it. These larger wheels offer more grip, making the car more controllable in modes such as MDM, which allows for slight slippage of the rear wheels.

BMW M3 Competition Pack

The biggest appeal of the M3 is its practicality, you can really use this car as a parent who loves thrills. It’s also comfortable in the right setting, namely “Comfort” which keeps everything normal. Oh, in terms of interior changes, the CP has slats in the front seats, giving the seats a different look and the opportunity for back seat passengers to tickle the driver with ease. (Yes, we know that’s weird). Some experimenting is essential to find the perfect balance between comfort and speed for everyday driving scenarios. We found that a throttle setting of “Sport” with “Comfort” dampers and “Comfort” steering was best for the daily commute. With that, we saved our M1 mode. M2, on the other hand, was a bit riskier, dampers were still “Comfort”, steering “Sport” and throttle set to “Sport Plus”. Lastly, we had the car in MDM mode, just to keep us feeling alive. Our gearbox settings were rarely in the most lethal “Level 3” setting as this was just ridiculous. In the most brutal gearbox mode, the car mimics the E60 M5 days, with its “shove you in the lower back” type of gear changes.

BMW M3 Competition Pack

As much as the standard M3 is a great car, the Competition Package is very special. The car feels more complete and looks better as those wheels fill the car out beautifully. Very little is wrong with the M3, but it has become an acquired taste for many. Gone are the days of the E92’s composure and that fact alone has put some off the car, as they might feel like it’s too much effort to exploit all the car’s power. For the brave, the M3 remains a massive thrill as its razor-sharp nature can be intoxicating. Our experience in the car was very enjoyable. We love the fact that you can be civilised when needed, but a complete hooligan when the opportunity arises.

BMW M3 Competiton Package Pricing in South Africa

At approximately R1.4 million with a few extras, it’s not cheap but boy is it a rewarding car to drive.