By Phil Bradley – http://www.instagram.com/mrphilbradley. As the World gradually returns to normality, our priorities have changed from ensuring we’re not on mute for Zoom calls, to making sure we’re actually wearing trousers when leaving the house to visit the pub. The problem is, there is something else that’s looming that will affect all of us here in the UK at some point in the future. That something will happen in 2030, when the UK Government bans all new, petrol and diesel car sales.
I’ve been fortunate enough to review a few electric cars, and don’t get me wrong, some of them are brilliant, but there’s a distinct lack of engine noise that doesn’t excite me in an EV like a petrol car would. EVs might be fast too, but it lacks the same thrill that an engine driven car can offer you. Being thrown back in your seat from the torque of an electric vehicle is incomparable to hearing the engine roar when you mash the accelerator to the floor in a petrol vehicle. It lacks the same thrill.
Which brings me onto what could potentially be the last combustion engine BMW M3 ever made. Put yourself in the manufacturers shoes, is there any benefit to developing the next generation of petrol powered super saloons, knowing that in 9 years from now, all new cars will need to be electric anyway? We can already see the beginning of the end, as here in the England, we only have access to the Competition variant of the M3, no manual option either. Perhaps, a ‘final’ edition could be in the works, who knows. All that I know for sure is that the end is nigh!
The Elephant In The Room
So what does the G80 M3 Competition have to show as potentially the last combustion engine M3 to come out of BMW? Let me address the infamous part of the G80 first. Those front grilles. Large enough to fry to pieces of steak on, the grilles make the front of the car impossible to mistake for another model. In fact, the number plate almost resembles a face mask worn over them. But that is exactly why I think BMW have put them on the front of the car, to draw attention. The grilles are complimented by two aggressive bulges in the bonnet to make them stand out even more. The press car I was given had both the visibility pack, with the laser lights, plus the carbon fibre pack, giving the front of the car carbon intakes, which went well with the Brooklyn Grey paint.
The side of the G80 continues the aggressive stance, with a shoulder line running across the top of the doors, reaching to the rear wheel arches, which have been widened to give the looks of chunky hips, which look awesome in the wing mirrors when driving. The M3 had carbon mirrors and a rather nice carbon roof too, which contrasted the paint nicely. The side skirts were a gloss black, with 19 inch wheels at the front, and 20 inch at the rear. The rear of the car has some blacked out M3 badging, a nice carbon fibre boot lid spoiler, and a carbon rear diffuser that houses the quad exhaust pipes. Visually, the G80 is all rather nice once you get over those grilles, and, dare I say it, grow on you after a period of time.
Inside, the press car was finished in Kyalami orange, a real marmite interior color. It certainly stood out even when looking in from the outside, but again, standing out is what this car is all about. The carbon pack continued inside, with a carbon fibre central console and steering wheel. The seats were a mix of leather, Alcantara and of course carbon fibre, with a central piece between the driver’s legs that I can only describe as a carbon fibre “male parts” tray. For weight saving, the seats have gaps on either side of the lower back area, presumably so that the rear passengers can tickle the front passengers in the car. There we have it, the interior of the G80 M3 Competition – male parts trays and tickle holes.
The Last Petrol M3?
The last hurrah for the petrol M3 gets a 3.0L straight six, turbocharged engine, producing a whopping 503BHP and 650NM of torque. Power gets sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox, although a xDrive, all-wheel drive version of the M3 and M4 models is in production too. 0-62MPH takes just 3.9 seconds and the whole car weighs 1730KG. Prices on the M3 Competition start from £74,250 here in the UK, however add the carbon packs and visibility packs as in my press car, and you’re talking mid 80s.
Stepping into the driver’s seat of the M3 Competition was an interesting one. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never reviewed an M car before. What’s more, I’ve recently reviewed the Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio and loved it, so getting behind the wheel of Bavaria’s finest would be interesting to say the least.
Hit the engine start button on the central console and the M3 instantly draws attention from passers by from the exhaust noise. Pull out onto the open road and you instantly realize the sheer size of the G80. At 4794mm long and 2068mm wide, it’s 12cm longer and 3cm wider than the previous generation M3. I found myself becoming quite aware of the value of those carbon fibre mirrors when driving! Hit the accelerator and the front end of the car feels like it’s going to take off.
As you’d expect, the M3 has no trouble getting the power to the road, and with a glorious sound track from the exhausts to go with it. Use either of the M buttons on the steering wheel, or change the driving mode on the centre console, and the sound only increases as the gearbox holds the revs that little bit longer in Sport or Sport Plus mode. There’s also a track mode, which BMW state shouldn’t be used on public roads.
Plenty Of Tech
What sets the new M3 apart from its competitors is the technology that comes with the car. From the laser lights, to the electronically adjustable carbon seats, along with the digital dashboard and touchscreen infotainment system. The head-up display in the M3 is the best I’ve ever driven with, showing the navigation in a color display on the windscreen in front of the driver, or showing the album cover of the music track that is playing when you change the song coming through the Harman Kardon speaker system.
You also get driving cameras to help you see exactly where the edges of the car is when parking, and the navigation system can sense which lane of the motorway you are driving in when assisting with motorway exits and turning. All very clever technology, and an indication of where BMW have focused the improvements of the car and partly justifying the 75k starting price tag.
One Of The All Time Greats
The G80 M3 Competition makes me smile, but also makes me sad to think that this kind of car isn’t something we’ll be able to enjoy for much longer. You could argue that hybrid cars offer even more horsepower, or greater torque, but there’s just something about a pure, internal combustion engine car that gets my blood racing. I enjoyed driving the M3. The sound from the exhausts, the brightly colored interior, plus the fact that it is physically dripping in carbon fibre.
If you’re looking for a super saloon that doesn’t stand out or attract too much attention, then perhaps you should look for a different car. The M3 may not win any awards for its design, but when the World of automobiles turns electric, we will certainly look back on this car as one of the all time greats for petrol engines.