- Nov 2014

TheMotorist reviews the new BMW M3

It’s a pity we’re not a more established online magazine, the reason why I say that is because currently we are hulk green with jealousy because of all the BMW M4 reviews that are happening. If we were more established we would have confidently gone to BMW South Africa and said “keys please!”  Without hesitation they would have handed us the keys to a Yas Marina new Blue M3 and an Austin Yellow M4, with full tanks of petrol of course and their blessing to return the car with baby smooth rear tires. At least that’s how it goes in my mind, but since I’m not Jeremy Clarkson or Chris Harris it will be a long time until that happens.

It’s not all bad news though, because a member of our team here at TheMotorist is actually quite a fortunate fellow. He works with cars and has access to such luxuries as the new BMW M3 and M4. So when I got the call to drop all that I was doing and bring my camera because there was one  that was available to drive, I very happily obliged. So ladies and gentleman, we present to you the new BMW M3, the most controversial M ever made.

Controversial you may ask? Yes because leading up to the release of this car many enthusiasts were in shock and some were even mortified at the fact that BMW were no longer going to use the name M3 for the two door version and had introduced the name M4 instead. The new BMW M3 badge would only be donned by the fatter four door 3 series. It sounds silly but I was one of those who were shocked. The reason for this is because the name M3 represents in a nutshell, “Motoring perfection”. This name  has set the benchmark for fast fun saloons in the car world, it also represented success and achievement, the day one can say “I drive an M3” is the day one basically says “I’ve made it”.

Some say change is good and BMW surely agrees, because they not only dropped one but two bombshells on us (forgive the Clarkson lingo). The new models were going to be turbocharged, and the V8 was to be done away with and replaced with an inline 6 cylinder engine. Now if you’ve tracked BMW M’s development of their cars you will notice that they love to mess with their fans. Knowing that no matter what they do, they will eventually fall in love again with their cars because seven years ago the same thing happened when the e92 was released. They announced that the raspy highly strung 6 cylinder was going to be canned for a V8 and the reactions were similar. People drove it, they had mixed emotions, they drove it again and then voila, they loved it. The same will happen here I’m sure, I’ve watched how many journalists have said that the engine is soft. That it’s not as hardcore  as the V8, it does  not sound as nice (which it doesn’t”) but that’s only because they are comparing it too much with the old car. When you love something, you see it as the end all and be all of things, you don’t want it to change so when something new is introduced, naturally you will reject it.

Now don’t get me wrong, no one has rejected this new car, in fact many are in awe of the performance and the dynamics of it. One would be crazy to complain that BMW have built a faster, better handling car than the outgoing M3, but some have said that it lacks the engine lacks the liveliness of the e92. There’s one thing being overlooked here I think, and maybe I’m wrong here but hey it’s my blog so who cares. I feel that BMW does not necessarily build a car to better the outgoing model, I feel that BMW builds a car that is best for that time. Seven years ago, the importance of emissions was not as greatly emphasized as today so, a V8 was not a problem. But now with every car maker facing pressure to change, they had to build a car for the time we’re living in. So instead of improving on what was there already, they had to start from scratch.

This car is not a facelift to the old car, it is a new  car. Some car makers are known for sticking to one recipe, the “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” philosophy. You often see the same engine in a number of their models, but BMW has a different strategy it seems. They individualise their performance cars and for that I respect them, in fact I salute them. So yes it’s not as nice sounding as a Mercedes Benz C63 and yes the name is weird but get over it, it’s here and it’s not going to change. Would you cancel a date with Jessica Biel because her voice was not as nice as Scarlett Johansen’s? Or if she changed her name to Prudence? I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem saying “Hi Mom and Dad, meet Prudence Biel”, so keep quiet and strap in.

Well that’s what our team member said once we got in to the car. What does 317Kw and 550Nm of torque feel like? Surprisingly not how you picture it in your mind, the car is viciously fast but in gentlemanly kind of way. The moment you think of turbocharged power you envision a scene from back to the future, but it’s manageable. This is because BMW wanted this car to have the same characteristics of a naturally aspirated car, and it does. The acceleration is linear, climaxing at the end of the rev range until another gear takes over and does it again. Whilst this is going on, the drama going on in those four exhaust pipes is entertaining, blops and pops are all you here between up and down shifts.

This was a very short run so I can’t comment on how the M Differential was working hard to keep us alive during chicane’s but I can comment on how it allows one to have fun. With the systems off, a slight hoof on the throttle allowed us to gently caress a corner whilst the M3’s rear was glamorously exposed. After that we graciously carried on straight like nothing happened. So it hasn’t gone “soft” where that is concerned.  The seats are made for people who will utilise the cars capabilities, but the interior isn’t all that different from a three or four series Sports package. You do feel that you are in something special though, due to some “M decals” in the car. The real aggression lies in the outward appearance of this car. It looks menacing and ready to go, flared wheel arches, wide air dams and a carbon fiber roof make you see that it’s not only about a great engine. The styling plays a large role in making an M car too, even the lack of fog lamps is justified, all to increase airflow and improve aerodynamics.

So just like that, our little joy ride was over, but well worth it. In time we will have the chance to give you a more in depth review of this car and others too. Hopefully by the time the new C- Class AMG arrives we would have charmed the manufacturers to the point where they allow us to put them head to head  on a track. Until then, you can head to your local BMW dealer and part with around R1M and then give us a call to drive it.