2016 BMW M3 Sedan Review

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For 2016, the BMW M3 gets Harman Kardon premium audio, satellite radio and keyless entry and ignition as standard. The M3 also features new LED taillights, an upgraded navigation system and some minor interior trim changes.

Introduction

2016 BMW M3 Sedan Review

The 2016 BMW M3 marks the second year of production for BMW‘s latest small super-sedan, and it’s been an eventful run so far.

Like its two-door M4 sibling, the latest M3 challenges BMW’s M division tradition with its turbocharged inline-6 engine, departing from the model’s long history of natural aspiration with no added boost. This choice led to an initial backlash from purists, but their protests have been muted as of late. Maybe that’s because they’ve had a chance to drive the car. Once you’re in the pilot’s seat, it doesn’t take long to realize that the current M3 is still a singular machine.

As ever, the M3 is based on the 3 Series, sharing that best-selling model’s basic exterior and interior design but boasting its own styling flourishes, chassis tuning and engine specs. True, the 3 Series offers a turbocharged inline-6 with the same 3.0-liter displacement, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Heavily modified, the M3’s motor pumps out 425 horsepower, far eclipsing anything the regular car can muster. Throw in razor-sharp steering, a sophisticated active differential and an M-specific suspension with available adaptive dampers, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a world-beating high-performance sedan.

If you’re shopping around in this segment, you’ve got some enviable alternatives to consider. The Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan wins the arms race with a turbocharged V8 that’s good for up to 503 hp, and it’s more athletic than ever through the bends. The Cadillac ATS-V lacks the BMW’s interior polish and rear seat room, but it compensates with a brawny turbocharged V6 and perhaps the quickest reflexes in the segment. If you can make do with a bit less speed but still want a sporting edge, the supercharged Audi S4, the Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG and BMW’s own340i serve as in-between options. But with its crowd-pleasing blend of race-ready dynamics and daily-driver civility, the 2016 BMW M3 continues to lead the charge.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2016 BMW M3 is a four-door, five-passenger high-performance sedan that’s based on the 3 Series.

The M3 comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, adaptive xenon headlights, a sport-tuned suspension, an active locking differential, a performance exhaust system with quad tailpipes, a sport body kit, exclusive exterior body panels (including a “powerdome” hood and wider rear fenders), power-folding auto-dimming heated mirrors, automatic wipers, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery with cloth accents, heated 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, carbon-fiber interior accents, fold-down rear seatbacks, cruise control and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Standard technology features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, an 8.8-inch display screen, a suite of applications under the BMW ConnectedDrive banner, BMW’s iDrive electronics interface and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with HD radio, satellite radio, a USB audio input, an auxiliary audio jack and a CD player.

The optional Executive package adds parking sensors, a rearview camera, a head-up display and a heated steering wheel. The Lighting package contributes adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beam control. The Driver Assistance Plus package gets you blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, a surround-view camera system, speed-limit display and a frontal collision warning and mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.

Stand-alone options include a few of the packaged items above plus 19-inch wheels, upgraded carbon-ceramic brakes, adaptive suspension dampers, a self-parking system and a power rear sunshade. A sunroof is available at no cost for buyers who are so inclined.

Powertrains and Performance

The rear-wheel-drive 2016 M3 packs a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that cranks out 425 hp and 406 pound-feet of torque. Two transmissions are available: a standard six-speed manual with automated rev-matching or an optional seven-speed automated manual transmission (M-DCT) with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

According to BMW, the M3 with M-DCT can sprint to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, while the six-speed will do the trick in 4.1 seconds. In Edmunds performance testing, a six-speed BMW M4 coupe needed 4.4 seconds to hit 60. Note that the six-speed lacks launch control, making the launch procedure more of a guessing game, whereas M-DCT has it as standard.

The EPA estimates that an M3 with the standard manual transmission will deliver 20 mpg combined (17 city/26 highway). Opting for M-DCT lowers those numbers to 19 mpg combined (17/24). Automatic engine stop-start (which shuts off the engine to save fuel while the car is stopped, such as when you’re at a red light) is standard on every M3.

Safety

The 2016 BMW M3 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags.

The stability control system integrates several features designed to improve braking performance, such as self-drying brake rotors (when the windshield wipers are in use) and automatic brake-pad preparation (when the driver abruptly lifts off the gas). BMW Assist emergency communications is standard and includes automatic crash notification, stolen-vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance.

Optional safety features include a surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and a frontal collision mitigation system with automatic braking.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2016 BMW M3 gets the same understated cabin design as the 3 Series, albeit with liberal sport-themed enhancements. We hope you like the iconic M logo, because it’s seemingly everywhere you look, as is carbon-fiber trim that emphasizes the car’s premium performance mission. Happily, the regular 3 Series sedan’s extra-cost 8.8-inch central display screen comes standard in the M3; indeed, this is a genuinely loaded car with remarkably few options by BMW standards.

From the driver’s vantage point, the classic analog tachometer and speedometer provide a historical link with BMWs of previous decades, while the optional head-up display projects digital information onto the windshield. The knob-based, touchpad-enhanced iDrive electronics interface is pretty easy to use, thanks to straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing times.

The well-bolstered front seats are both comfortable on trips and supportive in aggressive driving, and there’s plenty of front headroom and legroom. The backseat is decently sized for this class of car, with enough headroom and legroom for two average-size adults. Trunk space is about average at 12.0 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The heart and soul of any M-badged BMW is its engine, and the 2016 M3’s twin-turbo inline-6 is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Acceleration comes on like a tidal wave at about 2,500 rpm, and it doesn’t relent until you reach redline a thrilling 5,000 rpm later. Both transmissions match revs enthusiastically on downshifts, while M-DCT’s standard launch control is great for pinning your awestruck friends back into their seats on demand. One thing we could do without is the synthetic engine noise piped through the speakers — particularly its shrillness when you’re hard on the throttle — but if that’s the strongest criticism we can muster, the M3 must be doing a lot right.

Although some complain that the current M3’s steering lacks BMW’s traditional “feel,” we found it to be hyper-responsive and precise in our handling tests. Thankfully, the company’s controversial variable-ratio steering system isn’t even optional here; you can only get one kind of steering on the M3, and it’s the right kind. In spirited driving, the M3’s advanced active differential reacts to changing conditions in milliseconds by shifting power between the rear wheels, delivering midcorner composure that’s as good as anything with four doors. As for the daily grind, while the optional adjustable suspension dampers may seem like a no-brainer, the standard suspension turns out to be admirably civilized on rutted roads, particularly given the formidable handling capabilities that come with it.

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