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BMW M3 Review (2014-2020) Review logo

BMW M3 Review (2014-2020) Review

BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3
BMW M3

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BMW M3

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BMW M3

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BMW M3

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BMW M3

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BMW M3

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BMW M3

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BMW M3

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BMW M3

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  • Launched in 2014
  • Performance
  • Petrol
  • Launch year
    2014
  • Body type
    Performance
  • Fuel type
    Petrol

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heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
The original souped-up saloon car

Best bits

  • Muscular performance
  • Practical four-door body
  • Generous standard equipment

Not so great

  • Some rivals are more fun to drive 
  • Lots of road noise
  • Twitchy handling

Read by

BMW M3 Driving

Overall verdict

BMW M3 Interior

On the inside

BMW M3 Driving Side

Driving

BMW M3 Exhaust

How much does it cost to run

BMW M3 Exterior Back

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The BMW M3 is a fearsome, exciting driver's car that feels like its been honed for the track. Sharp handling, a brutally powerful engine and rear-wheel drive make it super engaging when you're testing the limits. When you want it to settle back down again though, it's not the most refined or useable super saloon on the market."

BMW M3 Driving

For years the BMW M3 was THE super saloon. It was the default choice for driving connoisseurs who needed family car practicality, and it practically invented the hot saloon sub-genre back in the mid-eighties. Now though, those waters are a little muddier.


Firstly, it's no longer clearly the best handling car in this class, nor the nicest inside, or the most refined. It still does many of these things with aplomb, but has lost the aura of invincibility it once had as the clear class-leader.


Based on the popular BMW 3 Series, the M3 shares its engine, suspension and interior with the M4 coupe and convertible, but the saloon is the starting point for the range, we've reviewed its stylish siblings separately.


The four-door competes with the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, the Audi RS4 and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.


The introduction of its twin-turbo six-cylinder engine massively improved efficiency and low-down power compared to the old V8 model, but it sheared the M3 of its defining feature – an exotic engine with a soundtrack to match – and BMW has been struggling to claw back its crown ever since.


There is nothing wrong with its prodigious outputs - 431PS and 550Nm - and the M3 is still one of the fastest ways four adults can travel across country, but it lacks the refinement and aural drama of the engines in its best competitors.


Driving its rear wheels only through a six-speed manual gearbox, the M3 can deliver old school driving thrills that are becoming rarer in this segment. However given the speed and ferocity of its 3.0-litre engine the DCT twin-clutch automatic (with rapid-fire changes and adjustable settings) gives you greater control over the car.


You'll soon discover how important having two hands on the wheel is once you start driving the M3 at its limit. It has more than enough power to overwhelm its rear tyres if you're not careful and in wet weather the stability control's orange light will flicker like a hyperactive indicator. 


With the stability off, you'll find this car is a real handful. That said, it is capable of tackling corners at incredible speed, with weighty steering and impressively taut body control. Getting from 0-62mph takes less than 4.5 seconds but it's the mid-range punch – as the turbos spool up – that'll really blow your socks off. 


An M3 Competition version was introduced in 2016 with even more power, but also a range of updates that helped make the car feel more like an ally and less like a sparring partner. This version isn't as spiky to drive, with updates to the traction control, adaptive suspension and chassis giving it a less intimidating feel.


This optional upgrade also improved the ride quality, taking the M3 – in its Comfort drive mode – from overly firm to surprisingly plush. Unfortunately it didn't cure its poor refinement, with loud tyre roar still a constant disturbance at speed.


That's a shame since in other respects the M3 is easy to live with, with a decent boot and a roomy cabin. That said, it only comes as a saloon – both the Mercedes C63 and Audi RS4 can be had as estates, the latter exclusively. 


The said, the M3 remains the precision driving tool of the three. More demanding to use day-to-day and more of a handful at the limit, but ultimately more rewarding when you cut through a series of corners just right.

Ready to get your top quality BMW M3?

  • All cars come with a warranty
  • Selected dealers only
  • All quality checked

BMW M3

M3 Competition 4dr Step Auto

  • 2021
  • 4,214 miles

Manufacturer Approved

  • Lookers BMW Crewe
  • Cheshire, CW16XH
Price:£79,999
PCP: £1,263.05/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £1,263.05, Customer Deposit: £11,999.00, Total Deposit: £11,999.85, Optional Final Payment: £34,131.10, Total Charge For Credit: £10,338.70, Total Amount Payable: £90,337.70, Representative APR: 6.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 6.9%, Excess Mileage Charge: 18.88ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

BMW M3

M3 4dr DCT [Competition Pack]

  • 2017
  • 21,519 miles
  • Pure Cars Wakefield
  • West Yorkshire, WF29RY
Price:£43,990
PCP: £689.77/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £689.77, Customer Deposit: £6,598.00, Total Deposit: £6,598.50, Optional Final Payment: £19,858.00, Total Charge For Credit: £6,608.45, Total Amount Payable: £50,598.45, Representative APR: 7.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 7.89%, Excess Mileage Charge: 12ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

Is the BMW M3 right for you?

The enduring appeal of cars like the M3 is their dual purpose nature. It is a four-door, five-seat saloon that looks like a humdrum diesel 3 Series with a fancy body kit, but goes like a rocket ship.


Mixing everyday practicality with near race-car levels performance is a powerful formula, and the M3 will suit those buyers who absolutely love driving, but don't want the sacrifices associated with owning a dedicated sports car.


It's relatively discreet but thrillingly fast, with a classy, understated cabin, and all the equipment you'll need. The BMW is a more serious machine than some of its rivals, and is more demanding to live with as a result.

What’s the best BMW M3 model/engine to choose?

The current M3 gradually evolved over the course of its life, as the brand honed it in an attempt to respond to early criticism of its spiky handling, and gruff-sounding engine. Later cars - especially if fitted with the optional Competition Package - are the ones to go for. 


They get their power down onto the road with less drama thanks to changes in the stability control, rear differential, and adaptive damper settings. As an added bonus, the M3 Competition also gets a 19PS power boost over the standard car, taking its total to 450PS. 


If you are a driving purist then by all means choose the six-speed manual gearbox, but the overwhelming majority of M3 owners opt for the quick-shifting M DCT twin-clutch transmission. It suits the ferocious engine better, letting you keep two hands on the wheel at all times.

What other cars are similar to the BMW M3?

If you're in the market for a high-performance four-door saloon there are only two rivals who come close to matching the BMW on performance and price. 


The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S feels more luxurious and modern inside, and its sonorous twin-turbo V8 engine has just enough muscle to outgun the M3 in a straight-line shootout. The Mercedes edges out the BMW for cruising refinement too, but has less space in the rear seats for its passengers, and is only available with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, there's never been a manual option.


Alternatively, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio can't match the Germans for build quality, but steers, rides and handles with real panache, drips with Italian style and has a Ferrari-derived V6 that produces a noise that belongs in heaven.


If you're willing to look outside the saloon world and want even more space with your pace, the four-wheel drive Audi RS4 Avant estate is equally fast, but in a more understated, accessible way, with a gorgeous cabin.

Learn more

BMW M3 Interior

On the inside

BMW M3 Driving Side

Driving

BMW M3 Exhaust

How much does it cost to run

BMW M3 Exterior Back

Prices, versions and specification

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Which is the best BMW M3?

BMW fans get very geeky about the M3. Versions from different eras have their own numerical codes, so this question prompts statements like: “I definitely think the original E36 was a sweeter car than the E90 V8.” We don’t want to start an argument, so they’re all great...

heycar editorial team

Answered by

heycar editorial team

Does the current M3 use turbocharging?

Yes, which caused quite a stir when it was launched. The idea of a turbocharged M3 was controversial (it had never happened before) but the result is a car with more performance, that is much more accessible at normal speeds, and uses a lot less fuel than it did before.

Russell Campbell

Answered by

Russell Campbell

Is there a new version of the M3 arriving soon?

There certainly is. Production has stopped on the the 2014 car (although you can still buy this version at dealers who have them in stock) with its replacement arriving late in 2020

Andy Brady

Answered by

Andy Brady

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