The 2017 BMW M3 is based on the popular 3 Series small luxury sedan, and the two cars share basic exterior and interior designs. But when you compare the models on a spec sheet, there is no mistaking which one is more performance-focused. With 425 horsepower, lightning-quick steering, a sophisticated active rear differential and brakes seemingly suitable for slowing down a locomotive, the M3 has all the right tools that make it a world-class high-performance sedan.
Two years after the most recent M3 redesign, BMW is also looking to boost the flair of its iconic sport sedan for 2017 with the release of a limited-edition model called the 30 Jahre M3, celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the first-generation M3. BMW says it will sell 150 in the United States, and each one will come fully equipped with just about every M3 option you can get, plus exclusive Macao Blue metallic paint.
If a luxury sport sedan is the type of vehicle you're looking for, there are some enviable alternatives to consider besides the M3. The Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan trumps the M3 with a turbocharged V8 that's good for up to 503 hp (in the S model). The Cadillac ATS-V lacks the BMW's and Mercedes' interior polish and rear seat room but counters with a brawny turbocharged V6 and arguably the best handling of the bunch. The newest player in the segment, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, hails from Italy and makes strong performance claims with a 505-hp turbocharged V6. But given the M3's combination of racing-worthy performance and daily-driver civility, it continues to be an ideal pick in the class.
The 2017 BMW M3 is a four-door, five-passenger high-performance sedan that's based on the 3 Series. Only one trim level is offered. It comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, adaptive xenon headlights, adaptive suspension dampers, an active locking rear differential, M3-specific exterior body panels (including a "powerdome" hood and wider rear fenders), power-folding and auto-dimming heated mirrors, automatic wipers, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery with cloth accents, heated 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), driver memory settings, carbon-fiber interior accents, fold-down rear seatbacks, cruise control and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Standard technology features include Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation system, an 8.8-inch display screen, a suite of applications under the BMW ConnectedDrive banner, BMW's iDrive infotainment interface, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with HD radio, satellite radio, a USB audio input, an auxiliary audio jack and a CD player.
The Competition package bumps peak power to 444, a gain of 19 horsepower, and adds forged 20-inch wheels, an M sport exhaust with black chrome tailpipes, revised tuning for the suspension and adjustable driving modes, special exterior trim and lightweight M sport seats.
The M3's optional Executive package adds parking sensors, a rearview camera, a head-up display wireless phone charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, enhanced USB and Bluetooth, and a heated steering wheel. The Lighting package contributes adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beam control. The Driver Assistance Plus package gets you blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a surround-view camera system, speed-limit display and a forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, and collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.
Stand-alone options include a few of the packaged items above plus 19-inch wheels, upgraded carbon-ceramic brakes, an automated parking system, a side-view and top-down camera system, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration and a power rear sunshade. A sunroof is available as a no-cost option.