If you’re a big car enthusiast, you’re probably aware of the sort of long-term tests many automotive publications do. If not, a long-term test usually consists of a certain publication, whether it be Motor Trend, Car and Driver or Top Gear, holding on to a brand-new car for about six months to a year to see how well it fares over a long period of time. The reason for this is that, as journalists, there’s only so much we can ascertain over the typical week-long review of a car. Sure, we can get the gist of things in a week, but we can’t really say how well its build quality holds up or how its features work during our daily grind.
Car and Driver recently finished up a long-term review of the BMW M3, a car they put around 40,000 miles on. That’s a lot of driving and more than enough to figure out just how good or bad the M3 actually is to own. In fact, 40,000 miles in one year is a seriously high amount. I used to commute 100 miles a day for work and I was putting about 30,000 miles a year on my car. So 40,000 is some serious driving. Plus, 40,000 journalist miles equates to about 100,000 normal miles, being that we typically don’t drive cars gently.
The specific car that C&D had for a year was a Yas Marina Blue BMW M3 with Silverstone leather interior, a six-speed manual, carbon ceramic brakes and the optional 19″ wheels. After all the options, their test car wore a shocking sticker price of $81,425.
Over the course of the year, the team at C&D had both good and bad things to say about the M3. Let’s start with the good. The look of the car never wore old, according to the team at C&D. They loved the way the fenders flared out on the M3, which don’t on the wider M4, as well as the look of the paint and how sunlight sparkled off the carbon fiber roof. The interior was also well received, as the Silverstone color and carbon fiber trim went a long way to mask the relatively dated 3 Series cabin.
They also loved the power and the ferocity in which the M3’s 3.0 liter twin-turbo I6 delivered. While its 425 hp might not be supercar shattering, the way it delivers all 425 horses and all 406 lb-ft of torque felt supercar-like to the C&D team. The BMW M3 is a seriously fast car and incredibly capable. In fact, one C&D staffer claimed that “The M3 is lovely to drive flat-out.”
But there were also some large complaints. The biggest complaint was probably with the ride quality, which was far too jarring over rough pavement. The M3 is a stiff car and its suspension has been subject to many complaints since its debut. So this is no surprise. But C&D also noted some issues with the carbon ceramic brakes, which are terrifyingly numb when cold, wet or both. They work great on the track but are more of a nuisance on the road than anything else. So they aren’t worth their eye-watering $8,150 price tag and you’re better off going with the standard steel brakes.
The C&D team also encountered some strange Chewbacca-like noises coming from the front fender and a too-loud muffler actuator that sounded really bad on cold start-ups. The dealer supposedly fixed the problem but it still persisted, just a bit less so.
So over the course of its 40,000 miles with the team at Car and Driver, the BMW M3 received mixed reviews. The engine, handling capabilities and look of the car were all well received. However, some nagging brake, exhaust and suspension issues kept the M3 from being as loved as in years past. Prior BMW M3s were beloved by long-term journalists who could overlook most faults because of its brilliant steering, ride quality and handling. However, this F80-generation BMW M3 has too numb of steering and too harsh of a ride to be as loved as its predecessors.[Source: Car and Driver]