Driving any sports car on track and then driving it on the road can yield very different results. Some cars are brilliant track cars but fall apart the moment they see a pothole. Some cars are great fun on the road but lack the capability to play around on a track. When Chris Harris recently tested the BMW M3 Competition, he did so on track, and came away deeply impressed. However, now that he’s spent more time with it, the M3 has revealed a bit more of itself on the road.

As he mentioned in his video review, the new BMW M3 Competition is a mighty machine when it’s allowed to actually unleash its full potential. Its chassis is said to be fantastically balanced and capable, its front-end is razor sharp, and its powertrain is about as effective as there is in the industry. There’s no denying that, as a driver’s car, the BMW M3 is right up there with the best in the segment and potentially even better.

However, on the road, there are some issues. For starters, its automatic gearbox does sap some of the fun from the powertrain. While it sort of disappears on track, thanks to the chassis and engine outshining it, the auto slushbox removes a lot of the drama and theater of driving that driving an M3 on the road typically brings. It also doesn’t sound very good, mostly thanks to European exhaust emissions filters, so driving it on the road, where it’s impossible to actually push the incredibly capable chassis, it feels more like a tuned M340i than anything else.

Harris is correct in complaining about a new car simply because it isn’t the old one is ignorant. However, there are some areas of the new M3 that would be better if they were replaced with older M3 bits. For instance, a dual-clutch would be a massive improvement in enjoyment over the eight-speed auto. The new BMW M3 is an incredible performance machine but it certainly has its drawbacks.

[Source: Top Gear]