by John Tallodi
The current BMW M3 has been on sale for a number of years now and its once dominant position in the performance luxury sedan sector has come under fire from a range of new and very capable competitors. For 2017 it receives a series of minor changes that help keep it at the top of its game.
The M3s interior will be very familiar to anyone who has sat in a current generation 3-Series. In this case thought there are a number of M-style details and trim items throughout the cabin. M logos remind you that this is no ordinary 3 and so do the sport front seats which offer excellent lateral support.
The rear seats are also better than in some rivals and shorter adults will have no problem with head and leg room. The trunk is decently sized too and folding rear seats are standard.
The M3 has not always been the most accelerative or powerful car in its class but ever since the original E30, its handling prowess has always been at or near the top of its class. The latest car continues this trend with a level of control and adjustability at the limit that still sets it apart from its competitors. The front-engined, rear-drive layout coupled with an M-differential and now standard adaptive dampers give the 2017 M3 both a planted feel on a racetrack and a decent ride on bumpy roads.
While the lack of steering feel from electrically assisted steering racks is often pointlessly bemoaned about in less sporting modern cars, the less involving steering in this M3 compared to older M-cars may be a relevant grievance for some shoppers.
The BMW M3 is available with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 producing 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Some may miss the intoxicating V8 soundtrack of the old car but the massively improved acceleration, especially in-gear will be a reasonable compromise for most. BMW has also gone to great lengths to make this engine feel like a naturally aspirated engine and it picks up without hesitation even at low engine speeds, revving up to 7,500 rpm with alacrity.
When equipped with the DCT transmission 0-60 mph is dispensed with in a mere 3.9-seconds or two-tenths slower if you prefer to do the gear changing yourself. If that isn't enough an M Competition Package pushes power up to 444 hp which takes another tenth off the 0-60 mph time.
The BMW M3 is available in one trim level and comes very comprehensively equipped. There are also coupe and convertible derivatives which are similarly equipped but they fall under the 4-Series range.
Standard features include an updated 8.8-inch iDrive system, 16-speaker audio system, 10-way power heated front seats, adaptive suspension, active rear differential, cruise control, keyless ignition and adaptive xenon headlights. There are also a number of additional packages and optional extras to choose from.
The Executive Package adds a head-up display, park distance control, parking assistant, rearview camera, adaptive full LED headlights and heating for the steering wheel and rear seats.
The M Competition Package adds a further 19 hp, new driver mode settings, high-gloss design elements and unique 20-inch wheels in either polished or black finishes.
The Driving Assistance Plus Package further adds to the comprehensive safety systems with items such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning, city collision mitigation, and pedestrian warning systems.
Items such as the M-specific head-up display, Carbon Ceramic brakes, sunroof, and adaptive full LED headlights can be chosen individually.
Despite some strong new competitors, the 2017 BMW M3 continues to be a top choice in its sector, offering a combination of luxury, performance and everyday usability that is hard to match. In 4-door body style it adds usable rear seats and practicality into the mix.