When last we left our M3, it was winter, and we'd labeled it the perfect spec. Had we suffered a case of snow-induced madness? Likely not. Little of our initial opinions has changed in the first 10,000 miles.
The M3's logbook now contains pages of praise for the color combo and the powertrain. Rich Ceppos called the engine a "sweet-hearted killer," and Dave VanderWerp submitted the powerful twin-turbo inline-six as evidence that BMW still makes world-class engines, even if its desire to build ultimate driving machines appears to have waned. On that front, K.C. Colwell still hates the steering.
Some have even come around on the design. Okay, it was just Eric Stafford, who bravely noted, "Yes, I am a fan of the nose." The rest of us aren't convinced, but Stafford also correctly highlighted how frequently our M3 receives compliments in the real world.
Reinstalling the summer wheels and tires prompted new complaints about the ride quality, an echo of our long-term 2015 BMW M3. One staffer's spouse even refused to finish a road trip, deciding instead to "spend a week in a near-empty apartment" rather than "deal with the punishment of sitting in the M3 for the four-hour drive to Ann Arbor." Something tells us the car wasn't entirely at fault.
Another road-trip issue appeared when Colwell took the 10-hour drive to Virginia International Raceway for a track day we hosted in partnership with Kaizen Autosport. Whatever's been afflicting our Ram TRX's infotainment system appears to be contagious, as Apple CarPlay stopped working in the BMW. Fortunately, the M3 cured itself a few days later; we wish the TRX's immune system was as strong.
Preparing for the track day was refreshingly easy, considering how specialized and expensive it can be with other vehicles (such as the Corvette). The M3's base brakes have blocked ducts from the factory; the owner's manual says this is to avoid extra water ingestion and increased drag, we imagine to negligible effect. Fortunately, removing the plastic piece for extra cooling involves simply turning the wheels all the way in one direction, reaching under the fenders, and popping off the covers. It's a two-minute job that you can do immediately upon arriving at a track day.
Like our C8 Chevy Corvette and Ram TRX, the M3 earned its Grand Course sticker. But unlike those vehicles, the M3's average fuel economy of 21 mpg exceeded the EPA's combined rating of 19 mpg. We'll see if that advantage holds over the next 10,000 miles as spring and summer bring more opportunities for speed.
Months in Fleet: 6 months Current Mileage: 11,612 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 21 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.6 gal Observed Fuel Range: 320 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
We didn't get the quickest 2022 BMW M3 for our 40,000-mile long-term test. Where the M3 Competition offers 503 horsepower and is available with all-wheel drive for quicker 60-mph acceleration and faster lap times (very important for internet one-upmanship), choosing it means you can't get a manual transmission.
We take this omission seriously. Plus, internet points matter less to us than driving satisfaction, so our long-term M3 has a mere 473 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual transmission. So far, we think it's the right one to live with for the next 40,000 miles.
Say what you will about the M3's novelty-sized snout, we think the optional Isle of Man Green Metallic paint ($550) makes up for it. Paired with the M Shadowline black inlay in the front headlights ($300) and 18-inch wheels, the exterior has the kind of presence that elicits compliments from folks in parking lots.
Inside, the Silverstone and Black Leather ($2550) and Individual Aluminum trim ($1080) add a pleasing contrast. We also opted for the $1550 Executive Package that bundles the necessary heated steering wheel and head-up display with the power trunk and the debatable gesture control. The latter allows you to do things like change the volume by spinning your finger in front of the touchscreen—it was one of the first features we disabled.
The $900 M Drive Professional option includes a track mode setting, 10-stage traction control (yes, 10), a feature that scores your drifts, and lap-timer functionality that works via an app on your phone. All in, our M3 came to $77,825.
The M3's break-in process asked us to keep the engine speed varied, but not to exceed 5500 rpm or 106 mph for the first 1200 miles. After that, it was time for a complimentary service visit for an inspection and new rear differential fluid, fresh engine oil, and an oil filter replacement.
Between that service and the 3100-mile mark, the owner's manual advised, "Engine and road speed can gradually be increased to a constant speed of 137 mph," but to "use the maximum speed of 155 mph only briefly, for instance when passing." Check.
Despite these draconian restrictions, we've found plenty to enjoy in our M3. The engine feels powerful, with a brawny midrange that's satisfying to explore on freeway onramps. During testing, our M3 reached 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and vanquished the quarter-mile in 12.2 seconds at 117 mph. That's right on the heels of our test results for the standard M4, which is slightly lighter, and roughly half a second slower than the automatic-only M3 Competition.
The manual's short gearing means the engine spins at around 3000 rpm in sixth at freeway speeds, which has made some staffers wonder if there was a seventh gear. On the other hand, most passing maneuvers don't require a downshift—even those at less than 155 mph.
The steering received a few complaints for being overly sensitive and hyperactive at low speeds. Fortunately, it gets better as you go faster. The Continental SportContact 6 tires wrapped around our M3's 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels produced 1.02 g on our skidpad and a 70-to-zero-mph braking distance of 160 feet. That skidpad result is just behind the figure for the standard M4, which wore Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. We'll have to wait to draw comparisons between braking performances, as it was 26 degrees when we tested our M3.
The falling temperatures necessitated a set of winter wheels and tires. Alas, we were unable to find a set in the aftermarket, so we went directly through BMW. The winter package included four 19-inch wheels and a set of Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 tires for a hefty $3710.
Considering the car's power, rear-wheel drive, and sensitive steering, the package has fared well. We've enjoyed the driving satisfaction that is inherent in the M3 name—especially one with a manual transmission. The automatic-only Competition may be quicker, but we're happy with our choice so far. We'll see how the luster lasts over the course of 40,000 miles.
Months in Fleet: 4 months Current Mileage: 3332 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 19 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.6 gal Observed Fuel Range: 290 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
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