Hard­core, not just hype

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Short Cut -

VALUE The hype over the brawny BMW M2 has over­shad­owed the car that helped put BMW per­for­mance on the map: the M3 sedan. So BMW has given it a once-over, with more power, sharper han­dling and a higher price. The Com­pe­ti­tion edi­tion in­flates the reg­u­lar M3’s RRP from $139,615 plus on-road costs, to $144,615. That ex­tra money buys lighter wheels, stick­ier tyres, stiffer sus­pen­sion, sportier seats, a crackly ex­haust and a frac­tion more power, although no more torque. COM­FORT Trundling in stop-start traf­fic, you can’t ex­ploit the ex­tra power and in­stead find your­self loathing the stiffer sus­pen­sion ham­pered by tyres seem­ingly as thin as rub­ber gloves. Even on dry tar­mac, the M3 Com­pe­ti­tion strug­gles to main­tain trac­tion if you’re en­thu­si­as­tic in first and sec­ond gear on bumpy city streets. The sta­bil­ity con­trol coughs and blurts, and you’re soon over­taken by Toy­ota Yaris hatch­backs and Uber driv­ers. At least the sculpted sports seats are su­perbly com­fort­able when you’re stopped. SAFETY Six airbags are stan­dard, as are front and rear sen­sors and a rear view cam­era. It has cruise con­trol with brak­ing func­tion (to main­tain speeds down­hill) but au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing is not avail­able. It also comes with a free ad­vanced driv­ing course. Own­ers would be well ad­vised to take up the of­fer. DRIV­ING I was ini­tially dis­mis­sive of the ex­tra power and torque — 331kW/550Nm ver­sus the sta­ble­mate M2’s 272kW/ 465Nm. Just as I was think­ing this is a pretty ho-hum car and con­tem­plated hand­ing it back early, I did some­thing I should have done in the first place and headed for an open road. Once the rear tyres get warm and the road opens up, the M3 Com­pe­ti­tion comes into its own. The ac­cel­er­a­tion — once the tyres are agree­able — is as­tound­ing. I’m not brave enough to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle but this is as close as I think the feel­ing gets, this side of a Fer­rari 488 or Porsche 911 Turbo. Un­for­tu­nately the speed limit is reached rather quickly in first and sec­ond gear, and the ex­hil­a­ra­tion doesn’t last for long. With no traf­fic be­hind, you slow down and do it again. And again. AL­TER­NA­TIVES The M3 Com­pe­ti­tion de­lights the senses and truly is a step above the M2. But is it $55,000 more fun than the M2? I don’t think so. Buy an M2 coupe and use the change to pay for a spare set of wheels and tyres and be­come a week­end war­rior on track days. If you want a com­fort­able high-per­for­mance sedan to live with day to day, buy an HSV GTS or Mercedes C63 AMG. VER­DICT The BMW M3 Com­pe­ti­tion is for hard­core enthusiasts and week­end war­riors only. You’ll need a sec­ond car to han­dle the daily grind.

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