Few vehicles carry as much weight among enthusiasts as BMW's M3. For decades now, the M3 has set the standard for seamlessly combining the acceleration and handling of a sports car with the room and comfort of an entry-level luxury sedan. For 2015, the M3 has been fully redesigned, and an understandable amount of excitement and anticipation surrounds it.
As expected, the new 2015 M3 is based on the latest-generation 3 Series that debuted back in 2012. However, you may have noticed that this review refers to the M3 as a four-door sedan. If you prefer your M3 in either two-door coupe or convertible flavors and are wondering what happened to them, fret not, as they are still available. They have simply been renamed M4 and are covered in a separate review. Regardless of body style, these M cars have a way of making driving enthusiasts very happy.
Much of that joy comes from what's under the hood, where a turbocharged inline-6 cranks out no less than 425 horsepower along with some great noises. Sure, the old M3 had a V8, which may sound better on paper (and to some ears), but there's no arguing with the increased output (an additional 111 pound-feet of torque, anyone?) and fuel efficiency. Furthermore, you have your choice of a true, three-pedal manual or an automated dual-clutch transmission. The power goes to the rear wheels via a carbon-fiber driveshaft and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. The latter equipment was once seen only on pure racecars, but now has trickled down to high-performance street cars such as the M3.
Other M-specific upgrades over the regular 3 Series include unique front and rear fascias, aluminum suspension components, M-spec 18-inch forged alloy wheels, staggered wheel widths and optional six-piston carbon-ceramic brakes. The wider track also results in special body panels all around, including a hood and front fenders made of aluminum and a carbon-fiber roof. Inside the M3, the differences are not as dramatic, as it's similar to the more common 3 Series but with a decidedly more sporting look and feel.
As impressive as it is, the 2015 BMW M3 nonetheless faces some stiff competition. Chief among these rivals are the upcoming 2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan, sporting a turbocharged V8 good for up to 503 hp. Similarly set to debut in early spring of 2015 is the potent 2016 Cadillac ATS-V. Any one of these specialized cars from their respective go-fast subdivisions should easily satisfy the most demanding enthusiast, but the 2015 BMW M3 strikes a balance between docile, daily driver and nutty hooligan that is undeniably alluring.
The 2015 BMW M3 is a four-door, five-passenger high-performance car that's based on the company's 3 Series sedan.
The M3 includes 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, adaptive xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, heated 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, fold-down rear seats, cruise control and dual-zone automatic climate control. Technology features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, an 8.8-inch display screen, a suite of applications under the BMW ConnectedDrive banner, BMW's iDrive controller interface and a nine-speaker audio system with HD radio, a USB/iPod interface, an auxiliary audio jack and a CD player.
An optional Executive package adds headlamp washers, parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, a head-up display, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera and satellite radio. The Lighting package further adds adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beam control. The Driver Assistance package gets you blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, a side- and top-view camera system, speed limit info, frontal-collision warning and automatic braking for collision mitigation.
Some items within the bundled packages are available as stand-alone options. Other stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels, upgraded carbon-ceramic brakes, adaptive suspension dampers, automated parallel-parking assist, a power rear sunshade and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system. There are also optional enhancements that add more Bluetooth/USB features, including mobile-office functions (message dictation, calendar), live-operator concierge services and entertainment apps (Internet music and social media).