Mark Jones
Wild boy racer of before now offers best of both worlds.
Controversial looks aside, the new BMW M3 Competition is still fast
There has been so much hype around the styling of the new G80 BMW M3, many have forgotten that this car is about going fast! On paper it has all the right credentials, which is as to be expected for an M Competition spec car, but does it deliver when it counts? And this is on the road, or more specifically, our test track. M3 Competition rides as standard on 19-inch alloy wheels at the front This is how the numbers stack up. The 3.0-litre straight-six engine that runs two turbochargers produces a full 375 kW…
There has been so much hype around the styling of the new G80 BMW M3, many have forgotten that this car is about going fast!
On paper it has all the right credentials, which is as to be expected for an M Competition spec car, but does it deliver when it counts? And this is on the road, or more specifically, our test track.
M3 Competition rides as standard on 19-inch alloy wheels at the front
This is how the numbers stack up. The 3.0-litre straight-six engine that runs two turbochargers produces a full 375 kW of power and 650 Nm of torque, down to the rear wheels via a traditional eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. The claim for the hallowed 0 to 100 km/h sprint is a quick 3.9 sec.
Pay attention, because about right now it all gets rather interesting with some serious launch control trickery at play. The new S58 engine, the same one as in the M4 Competition, is known for its turbo lag with peak torque only being achieved at 2 750 rpm, which is high for a modern car. Basically, under this mark, not much is happening thanks to the bigger turbos, but once they come on song, they come on hard.
In the X3/X4, when you held the brake and mashed the accelerator, the “Launch Control Active” flag showed up immediately and you let the car go, but because there wasn’t enough boost built up, it would still lag a bit before bolting. So, I expected pretty much the same from the M3 Competition, and I was right, but I was completely wrong too.
M Sport seats keeps you tight
In this car, when you slam the accelerator, you get a “Preparing Launch Control” message first and that confused the hell out of me. I thought I was doing something wrong, but should you show the car a little less mechanical sympathy and stay on the gas while jammed on the brake at the same time, this message changes to the launch flag after about two seconds of building boost to around 1.0 bar. Then the car really bolts off the line straight into about 1.7-bar boost.
Now the first thing you would be thinking is that building all that boost and then dumping it through the rear wheels would only result big black lines of smoky wheelspin. But you would be wrong. The M3 Competition launches in second gear and negates the wheelspin issue and hit 100 km/h in a better than claimed time of just 3.6 sec.
To see the full results, click here.
And from there it simply runs away from any competitor in its class with a 11.58 sec quartermile at 201 km/h and a 256 km/h speed in 1 km of tar. Want some perspective? This is enough to hang in there with the fastest stock Nissan GT-R I have ever tested, which was only two hundreths of a second quicker to the quartermile, and then a full six km/h slower at 1 km.
Red M1 and M2 toggles together with carbon inlays on the M steering wheel
PS: If you just try stomp it in first gear without launch control, not much happens till the boost comes in and by that time the guy in the GTI, never mind the GT-R, would have left you standing for a second or two. Before you will go past and blow his doors off.
The same would apply should you not get your timing right and give the car enough time to build boost. Heads up racing with this new M3 Competition is going to be interesting to watch in the future.
All the hardcore straight-line talk out of the way, this M3 Competition is just as fast through the twisties too. With 19-inch wheels up front and 20-inch wheels at the rear, and adjustable traction control, it is so easy to hustle this sedan way faster than the average person should.
M3 Competition badge
The refinement and drive of this new car is streets ahead of the previous generation. You can easily use it for everyday driving, and then hoon it around a track when you want. I guess for a (well specced) base price of R1 860 000, it should be like this.
This M3 Competition is not the wild boy racer of before, and some might miss that, but I think people paying this sort of money for a performance car will love that it offers the best of both worlds. And they just might like that the polarising styling is unlike anything else on the road.

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