Review: BMW M3 (2007 – 2013)
Stormingly fast performance. Superb V8 engine sound. High quality interior. Great feelgood factor, yet still docile at low speeds. Available as coupe, convertible or saloon.
Not as involving to drive as an M3 should be. Analogue instruments too small to read quickly. Expensive to run.
BMW M3 (2007 – 2013): At A Glance
The BMW M3 is the car that single-handedly sealed BMWs reputation as a maker of some of the very best drivers' cars. As the generations have come and gone, it's remained a car with a certain aura about it, not just because of the performance and handling, but because of the way it involves the driver. The latest generation was initially launched as a coupe, before a four-door saloon and stylish convertible followed.
The saloon is obviously the most practical, but it lacks the style of the two-door models, which are perhaps better suited as performance cars in terms of styling. It's a good Q car but there are key hints at the performance available. The bonnet bulge accommodates the immense V8 engine while flared arches, side skirts, unique 18-inch alloys and quad exhausts are all M trademarks.
Whichever version you go for you'll be assured thunderous performance from the sublime 4.0-litre V8 which delivers 420bhp to give a 0-62mph time of less than 5.0 seconds. Not only does it sound superb, but it's amazingly responsive at any revs, making the M3 hugely enjoyable to drive. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual while there's an excellent seven-speed DCT semi-automatic which actually suits it better and even provides quicker acceleration.
The big problem however, is actually being able to use this power. While the M3 is docile and happy at low speeds, you don't drive a car like this just to potter about in, it's designed to be driven quickly and that's where it's at its best. But in the UK, actually enjoying the performance it offers is impossible given the legal speed limits and the number of safety cameras on the roads. As a result, it feels like it's always on a tight leash.
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BMW M3 (2007 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 210–450 litres
Inside the M3 it's surprisingly understated considering this is a serious performance car. Aside from the chunky steering wheel, leather upholstery and M badging there's little difference from a standard 3 Series.
This is no bad thing of course - it's simple to get on with, although the iDrive control can make some functions overcomplicated, but overall it's neatly laid out and fuss free. Quality is as top class as you'd expect and the M3 also has some of the best seats around. There's plenty of adjustment, including cushion length and they strike a great balance between comfort and support.
The saloon is the obvious choice for practicality as it has good rear passenger space and a large boot too, but the coupe is still useful and the convertible is a real favourite. As it uses a metal folding roof rather than a fabric hood, it's as secure and as insulating as conventional coupe - ideal in the winter or for motorway driving where it's very quiet. But the roof drops down quickly and effortlessly to allow you to enjoy open-air driving along with that great exhaust note from the V8 engine.
Standard equipment from launch (September 2007):
The M3 is well equipped as you'd expect given its high price with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), metallic paintwork, a carbon-fibre, reinforced-polymer (CFRP) composite roof (on the Coupe), 18-nch M light-alloy wheels double-spoke style, Novillo leather upholstery, anthracite headlining, a six-speed manual transmission, cruise control, Park Distance Control (PDC), daytime driving lights, rain sensor with automatic headlight activation, xenon headlights, M Sports seats, electric seat adjustment with memory, M leather steering wheel with multi-function buttons, automatic air conditioning, automatic, auxiliary input point for auxiliary playing devices, electric windows, an Electronic vehicle immobiliser (EWS IV), Professional sat nav system with an 8.8-inch colour flat screen (LCD), iDrive controller with haptic feedback, on-board computer, and an engine start/stop button.
Child seats that fit a BMW M3 (2007 – 2013)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the BMW M3 (2007 – 2013) like to drive?
- Engines range from 4.0 V8 Convertible to 4.0 V8 M-DCT Saloon
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 15–25 mpg
The superb V8 engine emits a throbbing rumble at idle and it's hard to resist blipping the throttle so you can enjoy it even more. It's truly intoxicating on the move too and revs so freely with a lovely rasp between each gear change.
As you'd expect, the M3 is stormingly rapid from a standstill and yet manages to put all that power down pretty cleanly - unlike the Audi RS4 the M3 isn't a four-wheel drive so all 420PS goes through those wide rear tyres. 0-62mph in the Coupe takes just 4.8 seconds with the manual gearbox while if you choose the optional seven-speed DCT this is cut slightly to 4.6 seconds - that's faster that lots of more expensive fast stuff.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is a real highlight, especially when pressing on, although at slower speeds the sudden clutch action isn't always user friendly. The ride is hard edged too, especially noticeable around town and although there's an optional Electronic Damper Control system available, even in its softest mode it's still very firm.
There's a power button located alongside the gear lever the Power button sharpens the throttle's lightning response even more, however unlike the V10 powered M5 and M6 there's no increase in horsepower. There's also the button for the optional EDC system, which features Comfort, Normal and Sport settings. However, MDrive allows you to pre-select your preferred set-up so you can access it simply by pressing a small ‘M' button on the steering wheel.
As you'd expect, the BMW M3 is really in its element on the open road. Here you'll soon discover that the M3 is superbly balanced with the perfect amount of grip and lots of adjustability. There's virtually no understeer either and it's amazingly poised, taking everything in its stride. It's quite a snappy close to the limit though and doesn't flow along rough roads as effortlessly as it should. The numb steering is partly to blame but it doesn't prevent the M3 from being a superbly balanced and agile machine, with huge amounts of grip. It's just not as involving as you'd hope.
However, the problem seems to be that it is almost too capable - consequently it feels slightly anodyne. Ultimately the real issue is that the M3 is so good it's impossible to explore its limits on public roads. As a result it's not the most enjoyable performance car to drive. And don't expect it to be cheap to run either with average fuel economy of just 22.8mpg if you choose the coupe or saloon and stick with the manual gearbox.
|4.0 V8 Convertible||21–22 mpg||5.3–5.5 s||297–328 g/km|
|4.0 V8 Coupe||23 mpg||4.8 s||290 g/km|
|4.0 V8 M-DCT Convertible||25 mpg||5.1 s||269 g/km|
|4.0 V8 M-DCT Coupe||25 mpg||4.6 s||263 g/km|
|4.0 V8 M-DCT Saloon||25 mpg||4.7 s||263 g/km|
|4.0 V8 Saloon||23 mpg||4.9 s||290 g/km|
Real MPG average for a BMW M3 (2007 – 2013)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the BMW M3 (2007 – 2013)?
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