Just yesterday, I had the chance to get up close and personal with the new G80 BMW M3 and G82 BMW M4. Both cars in were attendance at BMW’s typically bi-annual “Test Fest”. While the M3 and M4 weren’t available to drive, I had the chance to poke around their exterior styling, sit inside and get a feel for the interior, listen to the M4 start and rev as well as candidly talk to some BMW execs about the cars.

Since their debut, I’ve personally been quite vocal about the styling of both cars, specifically their grilles. The new grille design of the BMW M3 and BMW M4 is quite divisive among enthusiasts, with some loving it and some hating it. While I don’t think hate is the right word, I certainly lean more toward the latter camp, as I simply don’t like it, not matter how much I’ve tried to accept it. However, even I’ll concede the new grille looks much better in person.

2021 bmw m4 competition toronto red 1 830x550

There’s far more three-dimensional shape to it than photos show, so when you see it in person it looks far more interesting. It’s also less vertical looking in person, as pictures make it seem almost truck-like at the front. I still don’t like it but, after seeing it up close and the way light reflects off of its surfaces in real time, I do think I could live with it as an owner.

Having said that, funky new grille aside, both cars look great, the M4 specifically. With the F80/G82-gen cars, I always preferred the M3, due to its more butch look from its flared fenders. While this G80 BMW M3 still has flared fenders, they’re less aggressive than they were on the F82. While the G82 BMW M4 looks genuinely fantastic from the headlights back. It’s sleek, smooth and muscular and has real presence. I also really like it in Toronto Red, as well.

While the BMW M3 still looks really good, it was hard to really get an idea of its looks. The Frozen White paint was completely washed out in the crummy, over-exposed, rainy-day lighting. In fact, with the car covered in rainwater and the gloomy lighting, I didn’t even realize it was painted in a Frozen color and I wasn’t the only one who was tricked.

Many attendees didn’t realize that the paint was Frozen White, instead assuming it was Alpine White, due to the fact that the weather obscured the Frozen finish. Because of that, all of its body lines and creases were visually washed out. I’d like to see it in some proper light to see how it looks.

Inside, both cars are pretty typical. The interiors, as a whole, are what you’d expect from an M3 and M4 based off of the current 3 Series and 4 Series. So, for the most part, they’re essentially the same as their standard BMW counterparts, just with some extra sportier touches. The BMW M4 in question was fitted with the standard seats in Silverstone/Black leather and Alcantara. They looked and felt good but pretty standard fair for an M car.

I did really like the carbon fiber paddle shifters fitted to the M4. Typically, carbon fiber doesn’t blow my skirt up, as it’s just posh plastic, but the new carbon paddles look much better than the standard BMW paddles fitted to every BMW. Not only do they look better but they feel better, with a stippled red grip on the backs of them. It can be frustrating to get in a BMW M8 and see the same paddles you’ll find in a base-model 1 Series, so to see new and unique ones in the M4 was refreshing.

The real star of the show, however, was the BMW M3 interior, which was equipped with the optional carbon fiber-backed bucket seats in Yas Marina Blue and yellow. That blue/yellow combo is the same color scheme seen on the BMW M4 in its official release photos and it’s awesome in person. The carbon buckets, with their massive bolsters and thigh grab handle-type bits are awesome and feel great. I was genuinely shocked at how much I liked not only the seats themselves but that wild color combo. If I were ordering an M3 or M4, that’s the interior I would choose, no question. It’s just too hilarious and unique to pass up.

Sweetening both cars is the fact that, as I learned from a BMW exec, those seats are available on any M3/M4 model, base or Competition. The seats I saw in the M4 are the standard seats across all models, base and Competition, and the carbon buckets are available as an upgrade for either car.

So if it’s my money, the car I’d choose is the base BMW M3, with rear-wheel drive and a manual, in the same Frozen White with the Yas Marina Blue optional carbon seats. That’s just about the perfect M3, in my book.

Also, after seeing the cars, I’ve decided (not that I could afford either) that I could absolutely own either car and live with them, depending on how they drive. I’m still a bit concerned with the weight, as both cars are quite porky (nearing 4,000 lbs) but seeing what BMW can do with heavy cars at the moment, I’m cautiously optimistic about them both. If they’re as good to drive as BMW M promises, I think the new BMW M3 and BMW M4 are going to be great cars.