Car Reviews

2017 BMW M3 30 Years edition Review

Alex Rae’s 2017 BMW M3 30 Years Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: Packed with extra gear it’s the best M3 edition you can get, but with only 30 units being delivered to Australia, you probably won’t find one.

2017 BMW M3 30 Years Review

Pricing $154,900+ORC Warranty 3 years, unlimited kms Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 3.0-litre turbocharged six-clyinder petrol Power 331kW at 5500rpm Torque 550NM Transmission seven-speed automatic Drive rear-wheel Dimensions 4671mm (L); 1877mm (W); 1424mm (H) Weight 1560kg Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 8.8L/100km combined cycle

Editor's Rating

What's it like inside?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety features?
The BMW M3 30 Years delivers considerably more than the base M3, but the lack of anything really new - like an updated interior - means it's starting to feel a touch stale among newcomers. That said, the interior is still good, and the performance is blistering, albeit a little too hard to enjoy fully.

What is it?

As its name suggests the M3 30 Years is a special-edition M3 celebrating the M3’s 30th birthday. It adds even more kit than the optional M3 Competition package by offering increased power output (up 14kW to 331kW) and bespoke styling. But there’s a limit of 500 cars worldwide and of that only 30 are available for sale downunder. It’s also the most expensive M3 you can get right now, at $154,900 excluding on-roads, but keep in mind a base M3 cost more than this just a few years ago and the extra package on the 30 Years is good value.

It’s nearest rival right now is the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, however, it’s about to meet fresh competition from Italy as the more powerful Alfa Romeo Giulia QV hits showrooms this month. But the BMW is the only one to offer a manual transmission (automatic tested).

The increased power output is due to an improved engine tune and M sports exhaust system and BMW claim the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic will do 0-100km/h in 4.0sec flat, with the six-speed manual just 0.1sec behind it.

Aesthetically, the 30 Years receives 20-inch alloys, ‘Individual High Gloss Shadow Line’ (gloss black trim bits), black chrome tailpipe and exclusive 30 Years M gills on the front guards. The car is also only available in one colour only, Macao Blue, and it looks marvelous. The interior is also exclusive to the 30 Years edition and includes 30 Years embroidery on bespoke black and blue or optional black and silver Merino leather. The overall package looks stealthy, rather than brash, with reserved maturity about it. Which is at odds to the noise it produces on wide open throttle.

What’s the interior like?

Sit in any current BMW and it’s a familiar setting: geometric shapes connected by high quality finishes which exude a Germanic feel. It’s aesthetically easy on the eye, and the interior is very comfortable, but I do look forward to the day when BMW updates its interior design language – not that it’s no good, but it does lack behind current offerings from Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

That said, the driver’s seat has a nice hip-point – given all the padding and electronics inside – and is electronically positioned with three memory settings. The steering wheel is also tilt-and-reach adjustable and the setup adjusts to just about any body size. The seats themselves are plush and the leather used in the 30 Years is high quality Merino leather. Bolstering is firm but the seats don’t tire on long trips, it’s a good cruiser. For those with weak fingers, all windows are one touch automatic up and down winding.

The interior has also been jazzed up for the 30 Years with colour-coded stitching and ‘30 JAHR’ embroidered on the headrests, it’s matches the M feel but it isn’t as nice as the ‘plain’ interior in the M3 for my liking.

For connectivity and charging there’s a USB port and single 12v socket, but not much else. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and Bluetooth is the best bet for connectivity, however the BMW infotainment is quite good and part of why the manufacturer is not in a rush to implement smartphone mirroring (although it’s announced the new 5 Series will offer Apple Car Play and Android Auto). The sounds quality from the 16-speaker Harmon/Kardon is also very good, with digital audio radio sounding crisp with good mid and bass.

The BMW infotainment is displayed on a glossy 8.8-inch centrally mounted screen and controlled via a rotary control dial and ‘shortcut’ buttons. The buttons provide quick access to the most useful infotainment screens such as media, phone and nav. The dial and buttons are in the perfect position, just under where your hand rests on the centre console, so there’s no need to be fiddling with a touchscreen while driving. And it’s the smart implementation and smooth operation of systems such as this that heighten the feeling that it’s an interior a notch above others, but, not at current Audi and Mercedes-Benz levels.

The M3 is the first sedan body in the M lineup – being based on the 3-series sedan – and as such it has good rear seat room. In fact, for my money, I’d take the M3 over the larger although not as nimble M5. Sitting in the back my six-foot tall slender frame found ample room for two adults, and three will be okay on short to medium trips. There’s also ISOFIX across the three back seats and in our testing a rear-facing baby capsule was fit with space to spare. There’s no USB or 12v connection back here, however. If you are using this as a family man power sedan, the boot is also a generous 480-litres large but there’s no ski port through to the cabin, so plenty of room for luggage but you’ll need roof racks for sports gear.

What’s it like on the road?

It’s a pity the 30 Years is limited to only 30 models, because its improvements are comprehensive and it’s a ballistic vehicle. The power is immense, and delivers early on in its stride, so exiting any corner fast or slow, there’s always more than enough power. At times too much. It’ll accelerate 0-100km/h in 4.0sec, 0.1sec less than class-leading Giulia QV, and it feels quicker low down than the Italian thanks to huge amount of low end torque.

The M3 is well planted and grip levels exiting corners can be epic, however it’s also a downside as the M3’s rear-end is very firm. The suspension has been tweaked for the 30 Years edition but it feels like it’s only working properly on better road surfaces, which aren’t too common in Australia. The result can be small amounts of hopping, skipping and fussiness from the rear that you have to fight against if giving the M3 30 Years the herbs. It also tends to kick in traction control too early (for the adventurous, TRC can be adjusted via the drive modes). Find a slick of smooth strip of black bitumen road, though, and the rear settles and the car works as a whole, and communication from front end feels easier to adjust.

The suspension dampening is three way adjustable, along with engine, transmission and steering modes, and go from a lethargic Normal mode to Sport and SportPlus. Normal is the best bet for around town, and it does settle the rear on rough roads, but it doesn’t feel as well planted as when in Sport.

The charm of the 30 Years edition is the M sport exhaust, which is a raucous unit. From a low rumble at idle to a screaming roar around 4500rpm, there almost no point at which the car doesn’t sound good. And it blurts a satisfying reaction on gear changes, which are rapid from the seven-speed automatic transmission. It’s also an obedient gearbox and will hold or jump down to the gear you want without hesitation.

What about safety features?

The M3 scores a 5-star ANCAP and EuroNCAP rating. In EuroNCAP testing it scored 95% for adult occupancy, 84% for child occupancy and 86% for safety assist. It comes equipped with Dual front airbags, side airbags and head-protecting side curtains as standard equipment. Intelligent seat belt reminders are fitted to all seats. There’s also the usual traction and stability control systems.

Why would you buy one?

The 30 Years edition is different to the other M3s, even if the difference are small. For one, the colour looks brilliant, and with the black accents, it adds a layer of maturity which bodes well with the menace and presence the car demands. It’s cheaper than a M5, and for my money, I’d buy it over the larger sibling because it’s quicker (blistering quick) and still carries all the practicality of a sedan. It’s also going to be a collectors car, but hopefully we see the little we receive her eon the road.

Is it better than the new and similarly priced Giulia QV? We’ll need to road test that one properly first…

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae