Tradition and history have a big influence when it comes to how a car manufacturer decides to update their models over the years. Porsche, for example, would never dream of producing a front or mid-engined 911. When Land Rover were creating the new Defender they never would have accepted it being anything less than the ultimate off-road vehicle, no matter how good it is now on the road. It is a similar story with the BMW M3.
Since the performance saloon genre was created, by BMW themselves, the BMW M3 has been the benchmark, the one all others are compared to, and the basic recipe has not changed since the original. A traditional saloon mixed with motorsport engineering and increased power to create a front engine, rear wheel drive performance car with room for all the family, and their luggage, that on a country road can keep up with most sports cars and even some supercars.
The M3 had always followed that format, however with the M3 Competition now producing 503bhp and 479 lb ft of torque from its 3.0 litre straight 6 engine, BMW have conceded that some help may be needed for those rear tyres. So for the first time ever, the M3 Competition now has the added assurance of xDrive four wheel drive, but does that mean they have spoiled one of their most iconic models?
Some would say that this has already been the case with the looks of the latest M3. The front grille has divided everyone’s opinion with an automotive equivalent of Marmite, an appearance that people either love or hate. However, look back not that long ago and BMW were producing the same divided looks, that now appear just part of the automotive landscape. The E63/E64 BMW 6 series of 2003, E60/E61 5 series of the same era and 7 series of 2001, at the time were seen as too dramatic a departure from the familiar BMW styling people were used to, yet over time remained fresh in appearance and have become stylish additions to the history of the models. The looks of the latest M3 seem sure to have a similar affect, but for many, only time will tell.
So does the addition of 4 wheel drive take the latest even further from the original ethos of the original M3, or a welcome and sometimes necessary edition to the modern take on a performance saloon. Well, the xDrive capability is also a feature on the BMW M5, and most would still consider that to be the larger saloon performance yardstick, so BMW seem to know what they are doing. With most M3 owners these days also using their M3’s as daily drivers, the assurance of the 4 wheel drive system means that the performance can be utilised more often in in varying conditions, something that rivals Audi have championed for decades now.
Thankfully, not only does the 4 wheel drive system sit subserviently and adapts to conditions, like it does in the M5, but it also enhances the performance even further. In RWD form, the car can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds, but with the addition of the xDrive system, this comes down to 3.5 seconds, bordering on supercar territory. For those looking to push the car to the limit, or on the track, the driver modes can be adjusted between Normal 4WD, Sport 4WD (sending the bias towards the rear more) or by switching the stability control off entirely and reverting to rear drive only.
BMW have been clever with the addition of the xDrive to the M3, by giving the driver the choice of when and how to use it. Their reluctance to enforce the 4 wheel drive format permanently, like on an RS Audi product, has meant that the M3 Competition has become a much easier car to drive on a daily basis and across a wider range of roads and conditions, yet allowed the driver to choose when they are looking to exploit the car’s potential. And with order books full until at least the second quarter of next year, they seem to have made a good decision.
Our 2021 (71) BMW M3 Competition xDrive 3.0 is finished in stunning Portimao Blue metallic and comes with full Black Merino leather interior. The car comes with a fantastic range of optional features to include Visibility pack, Technology Plus pack, Comfort pack, M Brakes with Red calipers as well as features such as the M Sport exhaust system, Harman Kardon audio, M head up display, Carbon fibre interior trim and much more. This delivery mileage example is offered in as new condition and comes with the remainder of a BMW manufacturer warranty until October 2024.
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