The fact that my job is among the most fun jobs in the world is not lost on me. I had the chance to drive a brand-new BMW M3 with a six-speed manual transmission for a week and then step directly into a BMW M3 Competition to drive for another week. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it, right? While I was of course being sarcastic, and it isn’t a tough job, it is actually a helpful one. Driving both back-to-back allowed me to get a good idea of which car is better and which one is worth buying. After driving both, I can’t believe I’m saying this, the BMW M3 Competition is better.

In this new review of the BMW M3 Competition, I take it for a drive and discuss the differences between it and the standard, manually-equipped M3. I also talk about just how good of a driver’s car it actually is, despite all of the criticism heaped on it prior to its launch.

The new BMW M3 Competition uses a 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged inline-six, making 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s up 30 horses over the standard car but, crucially, 73 lb-ft more torque. The latter makes the M3 feel far punchier than the regular car, which gives it a more pugnacious character. It’s also equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and only an eight-speed automatic transmission. You’d think that would make it the less engaging car to drive but that’s not the case.

More importantly, it actually feels sharper, dynamically. I was told by a BMW rep that no chassis or suspension changes are made to the M3 Competition, versus the standard car, but I just can’t see how that’s possible. The M3 Comp feels drastically different, and better, and I’m not the only one to notice.

Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room — its kidney grilles. Fans have mercilessly torn the M3’s design to shreds since its release, and deservingly so — it’s rough looking. While it looks better in person, it still doesn’t look good. At all. However, after spending a week with one, I’d gladly overlook the ugly grille and buy one. It’s that good to drive.