Earlier this year, BMW unveiled a new package for the popular BMW M3. Dubbed Competition Package, or ZCP as known internally at BMW dealerships, the new package brings many cosmetic changes to the already aggressive M3. Along with the visual improvements, the Competition Package further enhances the highly responsive chassis by installing a 10mm lower suspension and 19” wheels with greater offset for a wider track.
Combined with remapped Electronic Damping Control and Dynamic Stability Control systems, the M3 with Competition Package is the best handling production M car ever built.
Official press drives have just begun and UK journalists took their turn at reviewing the car. First, Car Enthusiast folks who published an extensive review.
The M3 has always astonished with its pace and the M3 with the Competition Package doesn’t change that. Really, it feels no different, the suspension changes doing little to the ride quality and the revised settings within the damper and stability systems not really apparent on the road. Choose anything but the standard set-up on the Electronic Damper Control and the M3 is a bit too stiff for the public road in the UK. The changes are likely to make a slight difference to the M3’s ability on a smooth, fast track, but without a standard non Competition Package equipped M3 to compare directly with, on the road it’s difficult to see what advantage choosing the pack brings – unless you really like those wheels.
That’s perhaps a measure of how brilliant the M3 is already rather than a criticism of the changes the Competition Package make. With the differences the Competition Package brings being so subtle a more sporting exhaust pipe or airbox would add some real appeal to it, and make it more obvious where you’re spending your money.
The biggest difference then with the 2010 M3 is the inclusion of a stop-start system. It’s odd to have the M3’s 4.0-litre V8 shut down and sit quietly at traffic lights, it adding 1.5mpg to the car’s combined consumption figure to record 25.2mpg when fitted with the M-DCT transmission. In real-world driving it’s unlikely you’re really going to notice the difference, as the M3 isn’t the sort of car that you’ll feel inclined to cruise in. It’s at its best when it’s going quickly, where it feels as hugely competent and composed as ever. It’s just a shame there’s not a touch more feel coming through the chunky steering wheel.
Conclusion? Four out five stars.