First drive: BMW M3 Saloon

By January 20, 2019 No Comments

We had a soft spot/hard-on for the previous generation (E90) BMW M3 Saloon. In a more practical and relatively subtle package came all the performance and ability of the coupé. Admittedly it did without a carbon fibre roof. BMW has rectified that for the new car, and a whole lot more besides.

Key Facts
Model tested: BMW M3 Saloon
Pricing: starts at £56,190 on-the-road
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (six-speed manual is standard)
Body style: four-door saloon
Rivals: Audi RS 4 Avant, Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG, Volvo V60 Polestar
CO2 emissions: 194g/km
Combined economy: 34mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Power: 431hp at 5,500- to 7,300rpm
Torque: 550Nm at 1,800- to 5,500rpm

There’s virtually no difference between the BMW M3 Saloon and its sibling the M4 Coupé in terms of how they drive and perform. Neither is the price gap of any significance. So, choosing between them comes down to personal taste or whether you need the added practicality of the four-door body style. And personally, even if I didn’t have two young kids, I’d choose the M3 Saloon. The deal is sealed by the protruding rear wheel-arches, which, because of the unchanged rear doors, are less integrated than those in the M4 Coupé. Arguably they’re not as cohesive, but it just adds to the hard core appearance and makes the M3 stand out from all the 3 Series M Sports on the road. Not that they can be specified with the carbon fibre roof – or the natty new door mirrors of the M3.

So much has changed in the fifth generation BMW M3 that we genuinely feared it wouldn’t live up to its historic lineage. BMW has allayed those fears; and some. The new M3 is sensationally fast, with the ability to both challenge skilled drivers and enhance the experience for the vast majority of buyers that have no desire to be a race driver. It’s well-equipped and right now has precious few direct rivals. We’d have it over the M4 Coupé as well. The M3 is back.