Review: BMW M3 (2014)
Twin turbo 3.0-litre straight six engine with 430PS. More powerful, quicker yet more economical than before. Impressively forgiving ride. Phenomenal grip in the dry.
Lacks the V8 sound of the previous M3.
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BMW M3 (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £59,905
- Insurance Groups are between 45–50
- On average it achieves 70% of the official MPG figure
When it comes to high performance saloons, one name has always led the way - the BMW M3. First launched in the mid-1980s, it has since built up a reputation as one of the quickest and finest handling cars around. For this the fifth generation M3 there are some key changes the most significant of which is the change to a turbocharged engine.
So out goes the normally aspirated V8 of the previous M3 to be replaced by a much more economical 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. It may be smaller in size but thanks to twin turbochargers it has 431PS on tap. However the big increase comes in torque which is now 550Nm and available across a wider range. In comparison the previous V8-powered M3 had 400Nm of torque and 420PS.
It doesn't quite have the character or sound of the old V8 engine but it certainly has the performance you'd expect from an M3. Acceleration from 0-62mph is just 4.3 seconds while choosing the optional M DCT automatic drops this to 4.1 seconds.
That's a significant improvement over the 4.9 seconds of the outgoing M3 yet the new engine is also more efficient with claimed economy of 32.1mpg on manual models. That's helped by the fact the new model is 80kg lighter thanks to more lightweight materials and a carbonfibre reinforced plastic roof. In fact compared to a standard 3 Series, only the doors, headlights and windscreen are carried over.
The standard six-speed manual uses new carbon friction linings for better shifts and now automatically blips the throttle on downshifts, previously a feature only available on the M DCT gearbox. The double clutch M DCT has a launch control function which helps reduce the 0-62mph time along with various Drivelogic modes which give the driver the option of changing the driving characteristics from a comfort and economy to an even sportier set-up.
On the road the M3 is incredibly sedate and easy to drive at low speeds, meaning it's a car that you can live with everyday. Yet it still feels every inch the high performance saloon when you plant the accelerator and get it onto a demanding, twisting road. There's incredible grip, superb traction thanks to a limited-slip differential and minimal body roll.
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BMW M3 (2014): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 480 litres
The interior of the M3 builds on the high quality 3 Series cabin with some extra additions to help it stand out. The most noticeable is a different steering wheel, similar to the BMW 2 Series and 4 Series, but with triple-colour contrast stitching in the BMW M colours. There are also plenty of BMW M details including M branded door sill trims, gear lever, instruments and metallic shift paddles on M DCT models.
Other nice details include Anthracite headlining and bespoke front seats based on bucket seats with width adjustable side bolsters. These have been designed specifically for the M3 and M4 with superb lateral support but also good comfort for long journeys. Getting the ideal driving position is simple thanks to the low down position of the driver's seat plus they are also heated and electrically adjustable as standard.
The quality is everything we've come to expect from BMW with superb attention to detail and a high quality fit and finish. From the stitching on the leather to the quality of the plastics used and the feel of the switches, it's obvious this is an upmarket cabin. One neat option is the M Head-up Display which adds to the standard head-up display with extra info such as a neat rev counter and optimum shift indicator.
M3 comes with 19-inch M light alloy wheels, Adaptive M Suspension, front and rear parking sensors, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, electric exterior mirrors, high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim and the full BMW Professional Media package with upgraded Bluetooth system.
Child seats that fit a BMW M3 (2014)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 (2014) like to drive?
This generation M3 sees BMW reverting to a six-cylinder engine, rather than the 4.0-litre V8 of the previous M3. But to keep power up to the levels expected, the high-revving 3.0-litre unit is fitted with twin turbochargers which boost power up to 431PS. The turbo system itself is a brand new unit designed specifically for the M3 and it helps boost the all important torque figure significantly, up to 550Nm.
Where this really makes a difference is at higher speeds, so from 50mph to 70mph takes just 3.5 seconds and it's at this pace where the M3 feels more responsive than before. The torque is available from just 1850rpm while at the top of the rev range, this torque remains constant, so when you're changing gear at the red line, there's always the maximum power available.
Sadly the engine doesn't have the character of the old V8 and seems quite muted from behind the wheel. There's a nice rasp from the exhausts but again you don't really get to enjoy that from inside the car. It seems BMW has tried to give the M3 a similar sound to before but it can often sound odd and quite buzzy rather than thunderous.
That said, there's certainly no shortage of performance with a 0-62mph time of just 4.3 seconds with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. Opting for the twin clutch M DCT gearbox sees this time drop to 4.1 seconds and also includes a launch control function for blisteringly quick starts from a standstill. There are three different setting for the M DCT gearbox so you can choose between smoother shifts or quicker and more aggressive changes, the latter giving the M3 a really purposeful feel when driven fast.
Where the adoption of a smaller turbocharged engine really makes sense is fuel economy. The M3 now averages a claimed 32.1mpg (34.0mpg with the M DCT gearbox) compared to 23mpg. CO2 is also significantly reduced, down to 194g/km.
Adaptive M suspension comes as standard and has Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes so you can alter the stiffness depending on the road conditions. The M3 comes with a newly developed electromechanical steering set-up, the type which can often mean a loss of steering feel. Thankfully, the system in the BMW is perfectly set-up giving you good weight and decent feedback.
As with the suspension, you can also change the steering across the same three settings. Add this to the various engine modes plus the gearbox settings and things can get a little confusing. Luckily there are two M buttons on the steering wheel which you can individually configure so that you only have to press one button to put the M3 into its most sportiest mode.
At low speeds the M3 is amazingly sedate and easy to drive. Despite all the performance it's a car you could easily live with day to day. Much of that is down to the amazingly forgiving suspension which means impressive ride quality and comfort. Not something you'd expect from an M3. Yet the suspension is still stiff enough to ensure there's minimal body roll through tight corners.
And it's on tight and demanding roads where the M3 really comes alive. You don't have to drive it as quick as the previous M3 to enjoy it, helped by the increase in torque, yet it's still sublime through corners with immense grip and perfect balance. As ever, the M3 is rear-wheel drive - BMW may produce four-wheel drive xDrive version of the 3 Series but the M3 will remain resolutely rear-wheel drive - yet out of slow corners there is superb traction thanks to the Active M Differential.
It's an amazingly agile car helped by its light weight. Thanks to the use of a carbon fibre roof, previously reserved for the M3 Coupe, aluminium front wings and bonnet plus the use of carbon fibre in elements like the engine strut brace and driveshaft, the M3 weighs just 1497kg. To put that into context a C63 AMG tips the scales at 1730kg. It also means that this is the first M3 that has actually been lighter than its predecessor.
|3.0||31–32 mpg||4.2–4.3 s||204 g/km|
|3.0 Competition Pack||32 mpg||-||204 g/km|
|3.0 Competition Pack DCT||34 mpg||-||194 g/km|
|3.0 CS||33 mpg||3.9 s||198 g/km|
|3.0 DCT||34 mpg||4.0–4.1 s||194 g/km|
Real MPG average for a BMW M3 (2014)
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.
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