Good thing we're here to inform you.
If you take a look at almost any picture of a BMW M3 online, you will notice BMW's oddly-shaped, but now commonplace DCT transmission. Seeing an M3 with a manual is somewhat rare nowadays, but it is not the rarest option that we can think of on the car. Anyone who has ever been in an M3 knows that it shares a lot with the base 3 Series, but it has some nicer features like an M steering wheel and better seats. But picture for a moment those nice M seats, and most people imagine leather chairs. Amazingly, you don't have to have leather in an M3.
In other markets like Europe, BMWs can be purchased with far fewer options like manually adjustable seats and climate control. Many US consumers only think of BMWs as luxury cars, so the idea of a stripped-out model may seem absurd. That's why it still surprises us that BMW continues to offer cloth seats in the M3, especially in the US. It is very rare to see an M3 with cloth seats in the US, which makes sense given the perception about buying a car that costs more than $60,000. We do understand why some people think that cloth seats are out of place in such an expensive car, but we really wish that more people ordered them. There are a lot of reasons why these seats are better than leather.
The first huge advantage is that they're free. Even though the M3 is pretty expensive already, leather seats are not included in the base price. Leather ranges from $950 for extended leather to $3,600 for a full leather interior. However, the Cloth/Leather combination Carbonstructure Anthracite interior is $0. On the F80 M3 and F82 M4, this sweet cloth interior has leather on the bolsters and a nice textured material on the seat centers. From a distance, the material almost looks like carbon fiber. Not only is the material slightly lighter than leather, which is good for weight savings, it is also more durable and offers better grip for track days. M3 owners who actually track their car should stick with these seats.
One of the long term benefits of cloth is that it won't crack like leather seats. Anyone who has ever shopped for an old E36 or E46 M3 knows there are plenty of beat up models out there with cracked leather. Cloth seats have been an option on every M3 since the E30, but our favorite ones are the Vader seats with the totally '90s M pattern on them. Still, we really want to know what other people think about the M3's standard cloth seats. Does anyone agree with us that more people should order them, or are we crazy? If we were spec-ing a new M3 or M4, we would go for the cloth on the $4,750 Competition Package, which has the unique holes in the center for lightness.
The entire concept of the M3 has changed so much since the original E30, which was basically a homologation race car. Today, most want their M3s to be solid commuters they occasionally throw into sport mode for a good laugh. Perhaps most of these people will tend to disagree with our opinion on the cloth seats, but anyone who respects the M3's legacy will remember that it was originally built as a race car for the street, not a street car for the track. Let us know in the comments how you feel about the cloth seats, and let us know which generation you like best. Image credit: LakerE46, Cristov9000, Dyintorace, Tonimiabmw and Phozenstone.