The M3? There was simply no flowerpot to be won with it. More doors, more sheet metal, more space, the Power 3er simply had to carry more (about 30 kilos) than the M4. And while it was driving dynamics with the music, it was always half a second slower on the race tracks. Even with the M3 and M4 CS launched in 2018 and lightened again, the four-door lagged five tenths behind.
All-wheel drive M3 with 50 kilos more
A little later, bad news for BMW fans. The Munich missed their M3 and M4 models an optional all-wheel drive, another 50 kilos on it. But the makers promised no loss of driving pleasure, on the contrary. With the 4×4 you should be a few tenths faster on the racetrack and when sprinting.
This 3 Series also has the well-known drift mode
And for the cross drivers among the M3 fans: This 3 Series also has the drift mode known from the M5 and M8. So there is a lot to clarify and explain at the premiere of an M3 in Supertest. That’s right, so far only the M4 and its sporty offshoot GTS have had to prove themselves in this test format.
What do you need to know about the four-wheel drive M3, which is only available as a competition? Let’s start at the beginning. As with the M4, a new three-liter in-line six-cylinder with biturbo charging is installed compared to the predecessor. More high-speed character, larger, even more responsive turbos – and, and, and. The cooling system and oil supply are also designed for use on the race track.
Perfomance? 510 hp and 650 Nm. The new eight-stage ZF8 automatic converter is also used here. Landing gear? Compared to the predecessor, lighter wishbones and wheel bearings, more toe and camber, standard adaptive dampers, adjustable in many ways, everything like the normal M3/M4.
M Race Track package for 14,000 euros
Electronically controlled multi-plate clutch
What is there to say about the M xDrive? Compared to conventional BMW all-wheel drive vehicles, the M3/M4 uses an active M differential to distribute the torque to the rear wheels. In addition, there is an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case, which fully variably regulates the drive torque between the front and rear axles. Theoretically, in normal driving situations, 100 percent of the power always goes to the rear. With the smallest slip, however, the front axle speaks up to support it.
Just like in M5 and M8, all-wheel drive has three modes. 4WD is clear, switching to 4WD Sport sends more torque to the rear axle, while 2WD allows for a rear-wheel-only experience like the M5, provided Dynamic Stability Control is turned off.
Before the first few meters, the four-wheel drive M3 is allowed on the scales. Officially, BMW speaks of around 75 kilos more weight compared to the normal M3 Competition. With 1722 to 1753 we only notice 31 kilos of all-wheel ballast on similarly equipped vehicles. Get in, let’s go. As usual with the Supertest, first on the country road and motorway, then the way to DEKRA at the Lausitzring.
M3 to 100 in 3.2 seconds
Not to forget the chassis, which can spring in the softest characteristic and runs straight ahead. Or the visually impressive carbon full bucket seats, in which the back does not hurt even after a four-hour tour. The eight-speed automatic, which works almost naturally and hardly noticeably with normal driving. And the in-line six, which can also be remarkably economical. In any case, on this side of the StVO you hardly get the all-wheel drive M3 to the limits of its composure. It curves full, safe and extremely binding and sure-footed, so that the driver almost feels a little underchallenged.
Arrived at the DEKRA test oval, the M3, thanks to semi-slicks, dives through the acceleration disciplines as uncapriciously as it is extremely strong: With the extremely finely tuned and efficient launch control, it accelerates to 100 in 3.2 seconds, three tenths faster than the factory specification, five faster than the 2WD M3. In the first few meters in particular, he pushes himself off as if traction were the most natural thing in the world. Virtually without slip and big gestures, the limo catapults forward in the best mid-engine manner. When sprinting, there is still a small advantage for the lighter rear-wheel drive M3 with a less complex drive train.
Because apparently the internal friction losses in the three-digit speed range play a greater role than any traction disadvantages at the starting block. From the gap up to the 100 mark, the rear-wheel drive is already on par up to 200. And at a speed of 250, the all-wheel drive vehicle even lags behind a bit. This phenomenon can also be felt at the torque values of 60-100 and 80-120 km/h.
No new records when braking, the 33.1 meters are only worth an “okay”. The pedal feel and ABS are successful, the system tireless – regardless of whether the discs are at 60 or 600 degrees. It was better, the 2018 M3 CS was already after 30, the M4 CS after 28.3 meters.
Is all-wheel drive faster at the Sachsenring?
Let’s get to the question of all questions: Is all-wheel drive faster at the Sachsenring? There is no direct comparison to the M3 Competition, but the M4 Competition Coupé should suffice as a virtual sparring partner. And the enthusiastic already with fabulous times, without just sniffing at the ideal line. Nevertheless, here and there small crossers might cost a few tenths. Shouldn’t happen with the 4×4-M3, so the theory goes.
First the round on the softer Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S. We drive in the 4WD Sport mode suggested by BMW, here the front axle is supplied with a little less torque and gives more leeway for the rear axle. Cornering grip, traction, everything like the M4 with the same tires.
Biturbo six plays powerful
The biturbo six plays powerfully, the automatic keeps their stages taut at all times. But with the steering you can feel small differences, it sometimes feels less relaxed. This seems to be due to the front driveshafts. Nevertheless, it glides a little more defined into oversteer than the M4, and you actually pull yourself out of the affair noticeably and measurably better in the tighter corners. 1:33.0 minutes is on the display, one second faster than the M4. Quickly into the pits, the BMW team around Andy Perlinger is waiting with a new, preheated set of Sport Cup 2 from Michelin.
And? Significantly more grip and only the ideal line in the first few corners? no! The all-wheel drive now leans even better on the chassis, uses the tire grip effectively and, if the worst comes to the worst, slides much more smoothly. Even in tight bends, he now hardly slips into understeer. And how it bends out of the curve! Highly reliable traction; exactly where the boundary between gentle yawing and real lateral movement is.
Technical data and price: BMW M3 Competition xDrive
Engine type: R6
Installation position: front lengthways
Valves/Camshafts: 4 per cylinder/2
bore x stroke: 84.0 x 90.0mm
kW (hp) b. rpm: 375(510)/6250
liter output: 170 hp/l
b. rpm: 650/2750-5500
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Type of drive: four wheel drive
Brakes front: 400 mm ventilated/perforated
Rear brakes: 380 mm ventilated/perforated
Brake disc material: carbon ceramic
Wheel size front – rear: 9.5×19″ – 10.5×20″
Tire size front – rear: 275/35R19Y – 285/30R20Y
Tire type: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 (in a package)
Tank/trunk volume: 59/480L
Standard consumption • CO2: 9.7 l/100 km • 229 g/km
Emissions standard: Euro 6d ISC FCM
base price: 94,500 euros
Test car price: 113,800 euros