FIRST DRIVE: 2016 BMW M3 Competition Package

Test Drives | June 2nd, 2016 by 6
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While the current F82-generation BMW M3 is a very good sports car, one that’s both incredibly fast and agile, it’s been criticized quite a bit for …

While the current F82-generation BMW M3 is a very good sports car, one that’s both incredibly fast and agile, it’s been criticized quite a bit for its lack of “purity”, especially in comparison with its predecessors. With 425 hp from its 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged inline-six engine, the M3 has plenty of power and with its aluminum-extensive chassis and electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, it has all the equipment necessary to handle well. But it lacks some of the spark, some of that fizz that made its predecessors so fantastic.

It appears that BMW has heard the calls of enthusiasts asking for a more pure driving experience and created the Competition Package. And if you’re of the many BMW fans wishing for a more pure M3 experience, then we’d suggest driving the BMW M3 Competition Package.

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I picked up a BMW M3 Comp Pack from the BMW Welt, as if it were a European Delivery pickup. We’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re a BMW fan, you should definitely experience the Welt. Picking up a car from there makes it an even more special experience, especially when it’s a gorgeous Alpine White BMW M3 Competition Package.

STYLING AND POWER UPGRADES

The Competition Package gives the M3 a bit of a power bump over the standard car, up to 444 hp. On top of the power bump, the Comp Pack brings chassis, suspension and steering tuning as well as tuning to the limited-slip differential and some interior tweaks, such as the new lightweight seats from the North American BMW M4 GTS and seatbelt with M-colored stripes. There’s also a new, recalibrated sports exhaust and a set of 20″ Style 666M wheels. So the Competition Pack is a very comprehensive performance package and isn’t just an aesthetic upgrade.

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When starting up the M3 Competition Package, the first thing you notice is the noise. The new sports exhaust is  much louder than before, especially right after a cold start. It’s so loud, in fact, that in Sport and Sport+ mode BMW actually had to bring it down a few decibels to keep it street legal. So the complaint of the standard M3’s somewhat weak exhaust is gone immediately from startup. But it’s not only louder, it sounds better overall, raspier.

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Inside, the new lightweight seats look great and are very supportive. They’re firmer than the standard car’s seats, but will hold better through spirited driving and look very cool. They even work well while wearing a helmet, proving that BMW thought about its owners will take to the track. The M stripes woven into the seatbelt also look great.

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While the engine was boosted to 444 hp, the extra 19 ponies isn’t all that noticeable without testing equipment. However, BMW did manage to make its mid-range punch even better and sharper, allowing for outrageous overtaking ability. The mid-range acceleration is probably the best you can get in a modern BMW right now and it inspires confidence in quick lane-change maneuvers or trying to sneak through tight spaces.

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TUNED UP CHASSIS

But outright power isn’t necessarily the focal point of the Comp Pack, as handling and feel are more important. The new differential tweaks have transformed the M3 and it’s now more precise and planted during aggressive cornering. It will still slide if you turn the DSC off but it’s more fun and less snappy, better for daily driving.

The Competition Pack’s new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars create a much more aggressive ride than before. It’s both stiffer and flatter through corners, making it much more fun to drive quickly. The adaptive drive modes have also been adjusted, with even Comfort mode being quite firm. Sport and Sport+ are very firm and will likely only be enjoyed by enthusiasts and will make fans of the track happy. I drove in Sport and Sport+ during most of my time with it because it was more fun that way.

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The front axle is also far sharper, with better turn-in and immediate bite. The steering is also better, with a more connected feel to the road, remedying much of the numbness that has been criticized in the standard M3.

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If you drive as hard as we do, you’ll want to choose the carbon ceramic brake package. It’s expensive, but worth it because the response and bite are superb. If you track your car, the carbon ceramics are a must-have option. After hours of heavy braking they suffered no fade, even after some hard driving on the Nurburgring. They’re also extremely powerful, able to stop the M3 from 250 km/h to 90 km/h in only a matter of seconds.

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

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If you combine the added performance and handling upgrades to the gorgeous wheels, sportier interior and better sounding exhaust, the Competition is almost a must-have for any BMW M3 buyer. It’s purer and closer to what the M3 should have been from the beginning.

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