I first got a chance to drive the current generation BMW M3 at the Madras Motor Race Track in Chennai last year. The experience was exhilarating to say the least but since it was a track drive with quite a few participants, the entire experience was under a controlled environment and we couldn’t really push the car to its limits to check out its capabilities. This time around, we’re driving the same M3 but what has changed is the fact that we’re not driving it on a track, but on open stretches of tarmac where we can push it and check out what the M3 is capable of.
BMW M3 pictures of the exteriors give a brief hint of the styling done by the auto maker. Nose gets adaptive LED head lights featuring four LED daytime running rings and accent lights. High beam assistance provides ample lights while driving at night. Headlight washer in integrated in the head lamps. Outside rear view mirrors can be folded electrically and get integrated LED turn indicators. Other than this it also features anti-dazzle function, mirror heating and memory settings function. Rain sensor and automatic driving lights aid easy driving. Black coloured side moulding and side frame appears sporty. BMW’s signature kidney shaped radiator grille with black finish and chrome frame in the front lends aggression. A black coloured front ornamental grille with M double rods is also equipped in the front. 18 inch V-spoke style alloy wheels are shod with the 255/40 R18 tyres in front and 275/40 R18 tyres at rear. Heat protection glazing and air breather with M logo are the other two vital exterior features fitted outside.
Unlike the menacing exterior, the interior is fairly docile but a familiar place. The driver focused cabin, neatly laid dashboard with no flashy element and top quality materials all around are things you will notice first. But it’s an M3, not a 3 Series, so you get the M Sport bucket seats that you will begin to appreciate the faster you go and the harder you take corners. The woven carbon fiber elements on the dashboard get the right amount of glow as you chase the sunrise, and light grey leather upholstery holds a nice contrast to the dark cabin materials. The M leather wrapped steering wheel feels fantastic to hold and the M colour stitching on the inside of the wheel is a fine touch. Four passengers can sit in excellent comfort… when the driver isn’t wringing the motor that is.
The M3 is also a practical car with higher profile tyres than the one our car came with. Besides four doors and the space for four adults, there’s a 480 litre boot. The rear seats split 60:40 and fold flat to open up even more storage. The 120mm of ground clearance however is a bit of worry if you’d plan to take it everywhere. It’s can’t be your everyday car for sure in India if your route has a few demon speed bumps along the way.
Turbos kill the engine note alright but they do make cars go a whole lot faster past the lag phase. In case of the M3, while the former is true, there is absolutely no turbo lag I can talk of. Sustained acceleration from idle to 7,300rpm when you upshift, the new 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six mill will surprise you with the levels of performance it offers. You get 437PS at a high 5,500-7,300rpm band to play with, and crucially, 550Nm between 1,850-5,500rpm, a massive 40 percent more than its predecessor. The M3/M4 are about 0.2 seconds quicker to the ton than their larger siblings with the 4.4-litre twin turbo V8s. Light-weighting surely is the replacement for displacement, as is a bunch of cleverly engineered turbos. anticipation of the performance requirement, negating that lag phase. Torque as a result is linear and relentless all the way up to 5,500 rpm. It’s when you think that the performance is going to taper down that it gets stronger and quicker, demanding a higher gear. You need to up the gearbox settings and the throttle map to sport to get the best out of the 7-speed M-DCT gearbox. The shifts are quicker than you can fathom and a redline shift keeps you at the peak of the powerband in every gear to gain speed north of a 100kmph like there is absolutely no mass to lug or wind to resist.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
If the BMW 320d is such a good handler, you can expect what the M3 will be. The steering is direct and precise and weighs up brilliantly. The M3 has just splendid body control and it feels very, very predictable if you’re driving it within limits. Even you push it very hard, the electronics will let you have some fun before the DTC kicks in before things get too scary. A remarkable aspect of the M3 is that it feels very controlled and doesn’t get dramatic very easily, unlike the Mercedes C63 AMG S. If you want to have proper fun with the M, you need to push it right to its limits, and only then does the true character of the car comes out. The ride is definitely stiff on this one but once you start gathering speeds, your back won’t complain much. The brakes feel very sharp and shed speeds confidently and in no time.
SAFETY FEATURES ;
The control panel is so designed as to give ease of access to the driver in case of an emergency. It is done keeping the driver in central focus. Highly robust, large-volume supporting structures and high-strength steel ensure rigidity and maximum stability to the car and its safety passenger cell. The impact of the collision is carried away from the passenger cell to the under parts of the car, side members and the roof. A shock absorber is also built in the area between the bumper and the bumper cover, which protects the pedestrians from severe leg injuries in case of an accident.
The BMW M3 has been a staple of two- and four-door performance for over 25 years, and this latest version is an evolution of that. BMW did not reinvent the wheel with the 2015 M3, but rather made improvements where they were needed. Carbon Fiber and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics find their way into the sedan to the benefit of weight-savings and rigidity.The decision to introduce the two-door 4 Series and its subsequent M4 will leave the M3 to thunder around with four complete doors for the foreseeable future, while the M4 will likely see many tuners gravitating towards the smaller car for hard-core track tuning. Either way, we’re glad BMW split up the models and created some much-needed consistency within their model lineup.