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.

BMW M3 Competition Test Drive 30 of 40 830x467

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.