The news of a new BMW M3 tends to make big headlines and draw tons of attention from the media and fans alike. The teasers and spy shots of the 2021 BMW M3 Sedan left many champing at the bit, and now that it is finally here, we're left with four wheels, 4 doors, 6 cylinders, and two very angry nostrils. The car's new styling has polarized the internet, but once you look past the appearance of the new Bimmer, you're still left with a serious M car. The 2021 M3 is powered by an evolved version of the B58 motor producing 473 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, or 503 hp and 479 lb-ft in Competition configuration, making it more powerful than the recently refreshed Audi RS5 Sportback. But can this everyday sports car still thrill despite improved refinement and a muted bark?
Everything is new. BMW's S58 3.0-liter twin-turbo was first tested in the X3 M and X4 M before being fitted here, but you also get contemporary styling, a fresh interior, a more advanced infotainment system and the option of features like a drift analyzer and ten-way adjustable traction control. The sixth-generation M3 will also be offered with all-wheel drive for the first time, but only as a 2022 model.
See trim levels and configurations:
The twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 gas engine under the hood of the 2021 BMW M3 is an evolved version of the motor found under the hood of sub-M cars, such as the M340i and M240i, and is called the S58. Power output is rated at 473 hp and 406 lb-ft but grows to 503 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque in the higher-performance competition guise. These outputs are questionable, as independent dyno figures have shown the base M3 sedan making as much power at the wheels as the Competition claims at the crank. Power is sent to the rear-wheel drive via a 6-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic, but the Competition spec car is only available with the auto. The base-model sport sedan will reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and the Competition car will get there in only 3.8 seconds. The M Driver's package lifts the top speed from 155 mph to 180 mph. While the six-cylinder doesn't sound as good as we'd like, it is surprisingly fuel-efficient, relatively speaking.
So has BMW managed to create yet another stellar M3? The answer is complicated. Firstly, the styling will put many off, but we feel that any petrolhead worth his weight won't think too hard about the car's outward appearance and will care more about what it's like to drive. Neither the NHTSA nor IIHS has put the 2021 BMW M3 to review, so there is no safety rating in the USA. Nevertheless, the German automaker is known for the high reliability of it's vehicle range.
The good news is that the 2021 M3 is easier to drive fast and more comfortable than ever, but that comes paired with a lack of engagement, a muted soundtrack, and a slower shifting transmission. The M3 still offers tons of grip and will astonish you with the way it picks up and maintains speed, but there's very little feedback from the steering wheel, and the manual transmission's light clutch pedal and auto rev match further removes the driver from the act of driving. The new auto is also slower and less direct than the DCT from last year. So it may not be as sharp as it has been in past lives, but it's still the benchmark in this class and offers a more dynamic package than competitors such as the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio.
We'd go straight for the M3 Competition in Isle of Man green metallic with the optional M Carbon Exterior Package for $4,700 and add the $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional Package, which includes Active Driving Assistant Pro and extended traffic jam assistance. We'd also go for the Executive package, which adds gesture control, a head-up display, remote engine start, a heated steering wheel, and a power tailgate for an additional $1,800. The M carbon bucket seats are too good to pass up at $3,800, and the M Driver's Package would be our last addition - another $2,500. The total price of a 2021 BMW M3 sedan with this build totals $87,850, excluding the $995 destination charge.
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