2015 BMW M3 Long-Term Update 2
I bellyached quite a bit in the last update, so here are three things I like about the M3, in no specific order.
1. It's fast to the fast.
I was looking forward to a year in the M3 because it was a return of sorts. Two years ago, I had the luck of chaperoning a 2013 Nissan GT-R Black Series as my long-term vehicle. For many reasons (the speed, the stares, the fanboys), that vehicle took quite a bit of getting used to, but what surprised me most was that for all its racy bits, it wasn't immediately quick. When driven around in normal (Comfort mode), GT-Rs are quick to shift up to top gear for fuel economy and emissions reasons. This meant that to accelerate quickly (in Automatic mode), you had to either floor it and then wait a few beats as the transmission dropped from sixth to fourth gear and the turbochargers spooled up, or manually drop gears via the paddles.
The M3 feels just as fast as the GT-R but more responsive from a steady state cruise. Like the GT-R, it has a six-cylinder twin turbo engine and dual clutch transmission, but when the long pedal is mashed, the M3 seems to get to the meaty part of the torque curve quicker, even in Comfort mode. Perhaps it's the twin-scroll turbo or extra/shorter gearing -- I'll see if testing director Kim Reynolds has a gizmo that can help me sort this out.
2. It stops even more impressively than it accelerates.
Don't think we live in the golden age of performance cars? Consider that the M3 hits 60 mph in less than 4 seconds, runs the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds, and you're not that impressed. For better or for worse, these days, sub-3-seconds to 60 and a 10-second quarter mile is what it takes to raise eyebrows. The M3 would be a super-car shamer if this were 2005, but it's 2015.
I love the speed and immediacy of the M3, but the other pedal is what gets me excited. Equipped with the $8,150 M carbon-ceramic brake package and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, our M3 stops in 99 feet from 60 mph. That is the deceleration equivalent of sub-3-second acceleration, especially considering the curb weight pushes 3,600 pounds. A quick scan of our recent test data reveals that only the highest-performing sports cars (and lightweight superfreaks such as the Alfa 4C) stop in less than 100 feet, but I'd say few do it with as much confidence as the M3.
Standing on the M3's brake pedal produces an eye-bulging, belt-straining decelerative force that is powerful and linear from the initial bite to the tire-shushing halt. And it does it over and over again, without fade, as I discovered during the blistering canyon session during our Best Driver's Car program. The consistent, linear feel of the M3's brakes cannot be overstated, especially as steering and throttle systems in the vast majority of performance cars go digital.
3. M3 will surf.
I have successfully put a wetsuit, towels, and 7-foot FireWire Hellfire surfboard into the trunk of the M3. I had to advance the passenger seat slightly, drop both sections of the 60/40 rear seat, and lay the board at an angle to clear the trunklid, but it fit with a lot less hassle than I imagined. And to those who gasp at the gall of carrying a surfboard inside such a fine vehicle -- well, would you rather I mar the clean lines of the M3 by attaching a surfboard rack and dripping seawater upon the carbon-fiber roof? Didn't think so.
Next up, the M3's first service.