The new G80-generation BMW M3 is an incredible driver’s car and truly one of the all-time great Bimmers. However, it’s easy to say that now, without the ability to directly compare it to its legendary predecessors. So what happens if you actually put it up against the greatest driving M3 of all time — the E46 M3 CSL?
In this new video from Car Magazine, we get to see that very comparison. They put the new G80 M3 Competition up against the E46 M3 CSL on the road to see if the new car can actually hang with its iconic predecessor.
First up, we see the G80 M3 Competition, which is a monstrous car. Its 3.0 liter twin-turbo I6 makes 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft, which makes the E46 M3 CSL seem positively puny. The classic M3 CSL uses a 3.2 liter naturally-aspirated inline-six, with 360 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. However, there’s so much more to making a great driver’s car than power. Which one is better to drive?
Honestly, there’s no question — the E46 M3 CSL is the better car to drive. Its steering is more beautifully weighted and balanced, its chassis feels lightweight and communicative, and its engine makes a noise that the G80’s couldn’t hope to make. It’s a sensational, legendary driver’s car that will be remembered for decades to come.
That said, there’s definitely a familial lineage that can be felt when driving the new M3. Sure, its steering is less talkative and far quicker, its chassis has literally no roll or flex, and its suspension tuning is far more advanced and capable. But you can feel the same sort of driving ethos in both cars. The technology and expectations have changed, not the objective.
Of course, the E46 M3 CSL is better to drive, from a pure driver’s car standpoint. It’s not really fair to compare the two, as the E46 M3 CSL could never be made today. But the new M3 Competition is worthy of its M3 badge and this video proves why.