Car ReviewsFirst Drive

2014 BMW M3 Review

Isaac Bober’s first drive 2014 BMW M3 review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

In a nutshell Fifth-generation M3 is a four-door only with its sibling, the M4, filling the role as coupe.

Practical Motoring says Offering performance and practicality the new M3 is not only more powerful and yet more fuel efficient than its predecessor it also outperforms it in terms of ride and handling. Indeed, the 2014 BMW M3 does exactly what BMW intended the original M3 to do, it’s a pure bred sports car that offers excellent everyday usability – it’s not just the best car I’ve driven this year, but the best car I’ve ever driven.

REVEALED TO THE WORLD in 1985 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW M3 has arguably become the most famous BMW and the poster child of the BMW M GmbH. Originally designed for touring car racing, the M3, says, BMW had to be a pure-bred sports car that offered excellent everyday usability. It did. And it became the most successful touring car of its day.

The second-generation M3 introduced in 1992 wasn’t intended for racing, nor was the third-generation which launched in 2000, and neither was the fourth-generation M3 which arrived in 2007 and without the straight six-cylinder of the previous two generations. Instead it was armed with a V8.

This fifth-generation M3, however, has been designed to go racing with BMW heading back to DTM (German Touring Car Masters) and I reckon that makes this new M3 a spiritual successor to the original M3. See, this new one has been built with the same philosophy as the original; to be a pure-bred sports car that offers excellent everyday usability. And it does.

2014 BMW M3 review rear

While the first M3 was a coupe only this new one is a sedan only, with coupe duties falling to its just-about-identical twin the M4. Notwithstanding the lack of rear doors there are some very minor differences; the M3 is a touch wider (1877mm Vs 1870mm) and a little higher which benefits back seat passengers (1424mm Vs 1383mm), and the M3 is around 23kg heavier than the M4. Big deal. Mechanically the two are identical. Price-wise, though, there’s a gap with the M3 listing for $156,900 (+ORC) and the M4 $166,900 (+ORC).

That said, BMW Australia says this new M3 carries $8500 of added value over its predecessor and that if you were to up-spec the previous-generation M3 to match the standard specification of the 2014 M3 you’d be paying more than $165,000 (+ORC).

The 2014 M3 has seen BMW return to an 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder albeit with twin turbochargers. While some motoring writers have suggested the dumping of the V8 was due to BMW downsizing that’s not the case at all. Rather it was about improving both performance and efficiency – see, this new engine is, well, more powerful and more fuel efficient.

2014 BMW M3 review - Engine

The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder produces 317kW (from 5500-7300rpm) and 550Nm (from 1850-5500rpm), this is run through a standard fit seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (M-DCT) with a six-speed manual being a no cost option. That’s enough grunt to get the M3 and M4 with M-DCT to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds (4.3secs – six-speed manual). Fuel consumption is 8.3L/100km (8.8L/100km – six-speed manual).

Out on the road (or the track) and at any speed the M3 is capable of pressing the driver back into their seat and, as that long peak torque and power band suggest, there’s virtually no let up to the thing’s acceleration. While the 2014 M3 doesn’t have the scream of its straight-six forebears or the grumbling rumble of its immediate predecessor it offers an equally delicious note that, thanks to a couple of butterfly valves in the exhaust bypasses the muffler under load roars out from about 4500rpm onwards. Think of it as a gift for your ears.

2014 BMW M3 review - driving

The new M3 runs a seven-speed M-DCT as standard rather than a manual transmission, but with 95% of sales of its predecessor being with fitted with the M-DCT it kind of makes sense (and the manual is available as a no-cost option). And its a ripper of a gearbox that’s smooth and fast when left to shift gears itself or, well, exactly the same when you take over and use the flappy paddles behind the steering wheel.

Steering in the 2014 M3 is rack-and-pinion with electromechnical variable ratios which is a first for the M3. While some might grumble about the loss of hydraulic assistance, they shouldn’t, because the new steering system is almost impossible to fault; its fast, direct, offers plenty of feel through the wheel and is nice and stable in the straight ahead.

The local launch of the M3 was on both racetrack (Hampton Downs, New Zealand) and on the tight and twisting roads out around Port Waikato. And in both locations the M3 was flawless. Beautifully balanced, eager, scalpel sharp and surprisingly forgiving of my fists of ham and buttery fingers, the 2014 M3 is easily one of the best cars I’ve ever driven, if not the best.

The standard-fit brakes are four-piston vented discs at the front and two-piston vented discs at the rear and they’re beautifully progressive. Both on the track and out on the road they got a big workout and they absolutely refused to fade.

2014 BMW M3 review - Interior

Behind the wheel, the 2014 BMW M3 makes a lot of sense as a performance-oriented family car with plenty of room for four people; there’s plenty of rear seat head, shoulder and leg room. The sports-style bucket seats keep you the driver and front passenger embraced without being restrictive and the vision out of the vehicle is excellent. The boot offers 480 litres of storage space.

In terms of safety, the 2014 M3 is fitted with six airbags and is expected to achieve an EuroNCAP and ANCAP five-star crash safety rating, it also includes the traction and stability control systems, pre-collision preparation which pre-tensions the seatbelt and closes the windows if it detects a collision is imminent. All M3s and M4s also feature BMW ConnectedDrive which offers immediate contact to the BMW ConnectedDrive call centre in the event of an accident. emergency services can also be contacted via the SOS button. In addition, the M3 and M4 feature a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and surround view, cruise control with brake function and speed limit device, which allows you to preset the desired maximum speed.

2014 BMW M3

Price $156,900 (+ORC) Warranty three years Safety Not yet tested Engine 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder petrol Power/Torque 317kW/550Nm Transmission seven-speed M-DCT (six-speed manual no-cost option) Body 4671mm (L); 1877mm (W); 1424mm (H) Weight 1520kg Thirst 8.3L/100km

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober