Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

No Competition: BMW excels with M3 xDrive

Post Thumbnail

For the first time in its history, the BMW M3 has gone four-wheel-drive.

Purists will probably tell you you’re supposed to hate it, but it makes sense. Modern performance cars are becoming so powerful that all the technology in the world will struggle to put performance through just the rear wheels.

Anyone who drove the previous M3 will know what monstrous power and torque dumped unceremoniously into the rear wheels will do.

When it comes to M cars you only really care about what it’s like when you’re pushing it to the limit, and here it excels

The latest generation is hugely improved and addresses most of those issues, but while sideways at quarter-throttle on the big shop run sounds like fun it can get tiresome quickly. Especially when there’s very little grip as soon as the road gets mildly moist.

And that’s how we’ve ended up here: the BMW M3 Competition xDrive.

Keeping the character of the rear wheel drive

Aside from the obvious, there’s very little difference between the rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions, so let’s take a look at that xDrive system.

Because BMW wants to retain the feisty, rear-biased character of the M3, it’s actually rear-wheel-drive most of the time.

Then, when the car realises it can’t get all the power down, it’ll shift some of it forward to help pull you out of a corner. This happens imperceptibly in a fraction of a second, of course.

Ferocious acceleration

There are also drive modes that let you configure where the power goes. You can have the four-wheel-drive system with a subtle rear bias, a heavy rear bias, or fully rear-wheel-drive for those who want a purer experience.

To get to this mode, though, you need to swallow a brave pill and turn all driver aids off.

You might think that the extra grip afforded by xDrive has resulted in a power boost, but no, the engine is unchanged from the rear-driven model.

That’s barely a disappointment, though, as the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged unit makes a healthy 503bhp and 550Nm of torque.

iX marks the spot for new BMW electric vehicle range

Those performance figures translate to a guttural gut punch of acceleration, made all the more ferocious thanks to the switch to four-wheel-drive.

Yes, power is the same but it can now go from 0-60mph in just under 3.5 seconds, which is about half a second quicker than the standard car.

Official efficiency figures are surprisingly good given the performance output, but with fuel economy of 28mpg and CO2 emissions of up to 231g/km, the only way it could be considered ‘green’ is by optioning the stunning Isle of Man Green metallic paint job.

Performance saloon cars like the BMW M3 need to have a double character. If you want a hardcore racer you don’t choose a car with four doors and a big boot, after all, so they have to do the practical daily stuff well.

A bold look

The M3 Competition definitely sits on the limit of this, with its cocooning (optional) bucket seats, stiff suspension and eager powertrain, but if you don’t mind being on first name terms with your local petrol station cashier or getting jiggled about on the school run, there’s enough civility to feasibly use this every day.

But when it comes to M cars you only really care about what it’s like when you’re pushing it to the limit, and here it excels.

A superstar among supercars: The McLaren 720S

It’s spiky when cold and needs warming up to extract its best like a proper purebred racer, but once up to temperature it’s a hoot.

The four-wheel-drive system is just about rear-biased enough to be fun when charging out of a corner with enough safety net to save your blushes.

If you’re looking to fly under the radar, no one will mistake this for a regular diesel 3 Series

When BMW first started giving us those massive flared nostrils up front, enthusiasts took to social media to mock, complain and generally share bafflement.

But here, familiarity breeds affection, because the bold look really suits the M3’s aggressive stance.

There’s no subtlety here. If you’re looking to fly under the radar, no one will mistake this for a regular diesel 3 Series, even painted in more subtle hues.

However, if you want something that’s unashamedly lairy, the M3 is perfect.

There are sharp angles everywhere, with prominent intakes in the front bumper that wouldn’t look out of place on a race car, while at the back, there’s a subtle spoiler and four not-so-subtle exhaust pipes protruding from a chunky diffuser.

BMW probably could have saved money on its photography of the xDrive by using shots from the regular M3 because again, there’s not much in the way of changes.

That’s no bad thing, because it’s a top quality cabin full of sporting styling touches, high quality materials and all the latest technology.

Impressive equipment levels

There’s a chunky steering wheel that feels solid in your hand, with an excellent digital instrument display that’s usefully configurable.

Our car had the upgraded seats, which are a little on the firm side but offer a reassuring bear hug in hard corners, also coming with a curious carbon plate between your legs.

BMW has been nailing its interior ambience in recent years and the latest M3 is no different. Though if you’ll be spending a lot of time away from the track the standard seats might be a more comfortable choice…

As the flagship 3 Series the M3 Competition xDrive gets impressive equipment levels worthy of its £78,425 price tag (which makes it just under £3k pricier than non-xDrive models).

This is a serious bit of kit that’s just as playfully aggressive as before

For example, you get 19-inch alloy wheels up front and 20-inch at the rear, all those M Division exterior styling updates and mechanical tweaks, leather upholstery, and BMW Live Cockpit Professional with M-specific features and graphics.

It’s easy to push the price well beyond £80,000, though. The M Driver’s Pack costs £2,095 and increases the top speed to 180mph as well as including a voucher for an intensive driver training session, while Laserlights can be added as part of the £1,500 Visibility Pack.

Added security for rainy UK climate

The M Carbon Pack costs £6,750 and adds those racecar-like bucket seats as well as exterior carbon-fibre styling touches.

Finally, you can go all-in on the £11,250 Ultimate Pack, which essentially adds every possible optional extra, bringing the car to just under £90,000.

In the grand scheme of things you probably don’t need the four-wheel-drive over the rear-driven version, given its ludicrous capability.

However, for just under £3k extra you get that added security that xDrive provides, which is particularly useful in the rainy UK climate.

The BMW M3 Competition has an urgency and composure that belies its size and shape, so if you have concerns that xDrive might numb the driving experience leave them at the door.

This is a serious bit of kit that’s just as playfully aggressive as before, just with a little extra peace of mind. And you can’t put a price on that.

The Facts

Model: BMW M3 Competition xDrive

Price: £78,425

0-60mph: 3.4 seconds

Top speed: 180mph (with M Driver’s Pack)

Economy: 28mpg

Emissions: 231g/km CO2

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from the Press and Journal News team

More from the Press and Journal