For the first time in its history, the BMW M3 switches to four-wheel drive.
Purists will probably tell you that you’re supposed to hate it, but that makes sense. Modern performance cars are getting so powerful that all the technology in the world will struggle to get performance through just the rear wheels.
Anyone who’s driven the previous M3 will know what the monstrous power and torque dumped unceremoniously into the rear wheels will do.
When it comes to M cars you only really care what it is when you push it to the limit, and here it excels
The latest generation is vastly improved and fixes most of these issues, but while on the quarter-throttle side on the big store it sounds fun, it can quickly become tedious. Especially when there is very little grip as soon as the road gets slightly wet.
And that’s how we got here: the BMW M3 Competition xDrive.
Keeping the rear-wheel-drive character
Aside from the obvious, there’s very little difference between the rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions, so let’s take a look at this xDrive system.
Because BMW wants to retain the fiery, rear-focused character of the M3, it’s actually mostly rear-wheel drive.
Then, when the car realizes it can’t cut all the power, it shifts some of it forward to help you out of a corner. It happens imperceptibly in a split second, of course.
There are also riding modes that allow you to configure where the power goes. You can have the four-wheel-drive system with subtle rear bias, heavy rear bias, or full rear-wheel drive for those who want a purer experience.
To access this mode, however, you need to swallow a brave pill and disable all driver aids.
You might think the extra grip offered by xDrive resulted in a power boost, but no, the engine is unchanged from the rear-drive model.
It’s hardly a disappointment, however, as the 3.0-liter twin-turbo unit develops 503 hp and 550 Nm of torque.
iX marks location for new range of BMW electric vehicles
Those performance numbers translate into guttural acceleration, made even fiercer by the switch to four-wheel drive.
Yes, the power is the same, but it can now go from 0 to 60 mph in just under 3.5 seconds, about half a second faster than the standard car.
Official efficiency figures are surprisingly good considering the performance, but with fuel economy of 28mpg and CO2 emissions of up to 231g/km, the only way to consider it ‘green’ is to opt for the superb Isle of Man Green metallic paint.
Performance sedans like the BMW M3 have to have a dual character. If you want a hardcore racer, you don’t choose a car with four doors and a big trunk, after all, so they have to do the everyday practical things well.
A bold look
The M3 Competition definitely sits on the edge of that, with its (optional) cocooning bucket seats, stiff suspension and enthusiastic powertrain, but if you don’t mind being on good terms with your station cashier- local service or get jolted on the school-run, there’s enough civility to use it every day.
But when it comes to M cars, you only really care what it is when you push it to the limit, and here it excels.
A superstar among supercars: the McLaren 720S
He’s prickly when cold and needs warming up to extract his best like a true purebred racer, but once up to temperature he’s a hoot.
The four-wheel-drive system is about rear-biased enough to be fun when loading into a bend with enough safety netting to save your blushes.
If you’re looking to fly under the radar, no one will confuse this with a regular diesel 3 series
When BMW started giving us those huge flared nostrils up front, enthusiasts took to social media to mock, complain and generally share their bewilderment.
But here, familiarity breeds affection, because the bold look really suits the M3’s aggressive stance.
There is no subtlety here. If you’re looking to fly under the radar, no one will confuse this with a regular 3 Series diesel, even painted in more subtle hues.
However, if you want something that’s unabashed, the M3 is perfect.
There are sharp angles throughout, with prominent intakes in the front bumper that wouldn’t look out of place on a race car, while at the rear there’s a subtle spoiler and quad exhaust pipes not so subtle protruding from a big diffuser.
BMW probably could have saved some money on its photography of the xDrive by using photos of the regular M3 as again there aren’t many changes.
That’s not a bad thing, as it’s a premium cabin full of sporty style touches, high-quality materials and all the latest technology.
Impressive gear levels
There’s a big steering wheel that feels solid in your hand, with an excellent digital instrument display that’s helpfully configurable.
Our car had the upgraded seats, which are a little firm but offer a reassuring bear hug in hard corners, also accompanied by a curious carbon plate between the legs.
BMW has nailed its interior vibe in recent years and the latest M3 is no different. However, if you spend a lot of time away from the track, the standard seats might be a more comfortable choice…
As the 3-Series flagship, the M3 Competition xDrive gets impressive equipment levels worthy of its £78,425 price tag (making it just under £3,000 more expensive than non-xDrive models).
It’s a serious piece of kit that’s just as aggressive as before.
For example, you get 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels, all those M Division exterior styling updates and mechanical tweaks, leather upholstery, and BMW Live Cockpit Professional. with features and graphics specific to Mr.
It’s easy to push the price well past £80,000, though. The M Driver’s Pack costs £2,095 and boosts top speed to 180mph plus a voucher for an intensive driver training session, while lasers can be added as part of the £1,500 Visibility Pack.
Increased safety for the rainy UK climate
The M Carbon pack costs £6,750 and adds those race car-style bucket seats as well as carbon fiber exterior styling touches.
Finally, you can go all-in with the £11,250 Ultimate Pack, which basically adds all possible optional extras, taking the car to just under £90,000.
In the grand scheme of things, you probably don’t need four-wheel drive over the rear-drive version, given its ridiculous capability.
However, for just under an extra £3,000 you get the extra security provided by xDrive, which is particularly useful in the rainy UK climate.
The BMW M3 Competition has an urgency and poise that belies its size and shape, so if you’re worried xDrive might numb the driving experience, leave them at the door.
It’s a serious piece of kit that’s just as aggressive as before, just with a little more peace of mind. And you can’t put a price on that.
Model: BMW M3 Competition xDrive
0-60mph: 3.4 seconds
Top speed: 290 km/h (with M Driver package)
Economy: 28 mpg
Emissions: 231 g/km of CO2
Already subscribed? Login
[BMW excels with M3 xDrive]