The F80 M3 might be the worst M3 of all. Not that it’s a bad car because it isn’t. But when you stack it up against cars like the E46 M3, E30 M3 and even the E90 M3, it fails to live up to their stratospheric standards. It did have one thing going for it, though — it looked good. The F80 BMW M3 was and still is a very good looking sport sedan, with its butch, flared wheel arches and sleek looking headlights.
Now, there’s a new M3, the G80-generation M3. Under the skin, the new G80 is better than the F80 in every single way. It’s sharper, stiffer, more dynamic, more capable, faster and more high-tech. However, when it comes to their designs, the G80 actually takes a step back. Maybe two.
There’s no getting around the new grille design of the G80 BMW M3. It’s easily one of the most unnecessarily massive and in-your-face-grille designs on the market. The only grille I can think of that’s as obnoxious is the Toyota Avalon (it has more grille than body at the front). Because of that, it dominates the front end and not necessarily in a good way. But when you look back at the F80 M3, it looks so well proportioned and balanced. Its grille is a normal size and it works well with the front end of the car.
Down the sides of the cars, the F80 is the more muscular looking of the two. It has a sharper, more aggressive shoulder line and more clearly accentuated fender flares. While the G80 M3 is smoother and a bit sleeker, and certainly looks good in its own right, it’s just not as muscular looking as the F80 and, in an M car, muscularity is important.
Out back, the G80 has a good looking rump, with handsome taillights and a nice little lip spoiler. However, those taillights look like they could also be from a Lexus IS. The F80 M3 is far more distinguishable as a proper BMW M car, with its L-shaped taillights.
On the inside, the G80 definitely has the advantage. It’s far more modern, packs far better technology, cooler looking seats and a better shift lever. The F80 has a nice cabin but it’s too dated now and the teardrop shift lever is not aging well.
All in, though, the old F80 BMW M3 is the better looking car. While it was never considered beautiful, the F80 is certainly aging well thanks to the shocking design of the new G80.