The M3 starts with BMW's popular 3 Series sedan and adds a heavily upgraded powertrain, retuned suspension, and subtly recontoured bodywork; the safest way to know you're looking at an M3 instead of a 340i is the presence of the M car's fender vent. On a less visible level, some of those panels are lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber.
A twin-turbocharged 3-liter inline-six—impress your business partners and call it by its in-house code, S55—makes 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque which is sent to a trick computer-controlled differential at the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or BMW's dual-clutch semiautomatic gearbox. An adaptive suspension system is available for $1,000 but the standard setup is so well-tuned that we call the extra expense and complexity unnecessary.
Base MSRP for the M3 is $63,500 with a $995 delivery charge. In keeping with the more focused attitude of the M3, the option list is on the short side and focuses mainly on allowing a buyer to decide whether the car should be an all-out performance demon or a kind of peak 3 Series.
- The $5,500 Competition Package adds a power boost, 20-inch forged-alloy snowflake-design wheels and a battery of revised suspension and driveline settings to better terrify your passengers during track days and on back roads.
- If your tastes run more towards highline than racing line, an Executive Package (heads-up display, heated steering wheel, parking sensors) and Driver Assistance Plus (blind spot sensors, lane-departure and collision-avoidance assists, 360-degree cameras) are available.
- A sunroof is a no-cost option, but choosing to let light in means you lose some lightness—the roof panel reverts to standard 3 Series metal instead of carbon fiber.