These words hurt me more than they hurt you. 2014 has been a very good car year for me. I’ve had the opportunity and sincere pleasure of driving some of the very best cars in the world such as the Jaguar F-Type Coupe, the Audi R8, the Porsche 911 GT3, and even the Chevy Camaro Z/28, to name a few. To that list, I was going to add the new F30 (F80) BMW M3. After driving it, I won’t be doing that.
The BMW M3 started out, like most automotive legends, as an unassuming performance-oriented car designed for good times. The trick with these cars -- and I’m including the MK1 GTI and Mazda Miata -- was that they were far better driver cars than they let on.
What was sacred
The E30 M3’s legend grew quickly. The follow-up E36 and E46 maintained the unassuming aspect of their character, which made them completely appealing for the true connoisseurs. The E90 series of M3s more or less put that trait aside, but the roots (linked to the E30) could still be felt if one dug hard and deep enough.
As far as I’m concerned, the E90 opened the door to a larger audience to more buyers, but not because it was an M3. No, because it was the most expensive 3 Series one could purchase. The F30 underwrites this irritating fad.
The M3 has always been about balance. Think about it: BMW boasts about their cars’ perfect weight distribution, their poised and controlled ride, performance and efficiency. To a large extent, this explicative applied to the M3, at least until the E90.
The current F30 M3 has not only forgone the balance, but now has an in-your-face-go-f*ck-yourself-‘cause-I’m-an-M3 aura about it. The same, by the way, applies to the M4. There is nothing unassuming about the new M3. It is brash, bold, and hides nothing except that it no longer feels, drives or behaves like a true M3.
Before I go one bitching about the new 2015 BMW M3, let’s splice the negative with some positive. As you may have read, the M3 is stupid fast. I’m here to confirm that it really, really is. For the first time in its history, the M3 is boosted as opposed to being normally aspirated.
The result is 425 horsepower (from 5,500 - 7,300 rpm) and 406 lb-ft of torque (from 1,850 - 5,500 rpm) generated by its 3.0L twin turbocharged I6-cylinder engine. These are the given specs, however, depending on who’s dyno testing you believe, these numbers are more like what you’ll find at the wheels than the crank… So yeah, this car’s a monster.
Get your fillings secured
And it’s the monster part that I don’t like. As if to say that because the car’s got so much power, let’s put an impossibly stiff, uncomfortable suspension on the M3 and buyers will believe that they’ve purchased something special. The 2015 M3’s ride quality is shamefully bad and unpleasant. Sure, the car’ll stick to tarmac like gum to your hair, but when you’re not on a track or barrelling down the Autobahn, Gravol’s a must.
Steering is heavy, precise but with far less feel and feedback than an M3 needs to provide. It’s as though the car was so overburdened with technology, mass, and girth that BMW figured, “moar power!” and everyone will be happy. Well, almost everyone.
Thankfully, and as I’d hoped, the brakes are massively powerful and qualm forward momentum with serious authority -- even more so when equipped with the optional M Carbon Ceramic Brake System.
Then there’s BMW’s 7-speed M-DCT transmission. I did get some minimal seat time in the 6-speed M4, and liked it. The M-DCT is much like the ride: it’s harsh. I know (we all know) the Germans can make amazing dual-clutch boxes, so why is the M3’s so unrefined? Regardless (and this applies to all facets of the drive) of the drive mode, shifts are dry, abrasive, and somewhat annoying. Why? The PDK in the GT3 or 911 Turbo S doesn’t punish…
Bye bye ultimate driving M
There was that unmistakeable analog feel to the E30, 36 and 46. Through evolution, that impression, no sensation, was diluted in the E90 but it has now been completely lost in the M3. To a certain extent, the 2015 M3 felt like a video game, much akin to Nissan’s GT-R that I briefly drove once more a short while ago.
I touched lightly on the car’s outer shell and to be honest, especially when draped in Yas Marina Blue, the F80 M3 is mesmerizing and stunning. At every glance, I couldn’t believe I was in the presence of such a hot car.
The cabin is as a BMW’s should be. Well appointed, with great seats, and immaculate material as well as fit and finish.
Where’s the RS4?
The bottom line for me is that the M3 as I loved it is gone, deceased, no more. As a lover of 4-door sedans (over any coupe), I’m saddened by this conclusion. I’m even more depressed by the fact that a Caddy CTS V-sport or Dodge Charger SRT are my only options if I want equal hp bragging rights.
If you’re still finding that you want one, base price is $74,000. If you’d like tons of bells and whistles, look for a 6-figure loan from the bank.