From the April 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
Beneath the purple skin specific to this commemorative Edition 50 Jahre that celebrates a half-century of BMW's M Division, and shared by all M3 Competition models, is a stonking 503-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. With launch control engaged and the boost holding above 15.0 psi, the quickest-ever 3-series leaps to 30 mph in 1.0 second. The scoot to 60 mph takes 2.8 seconds, and the quarter-mile passes in 11.0 seconds at 124 mph.
All-wheel drive comes standard on the Edition 50 Jahre and can be had on any other M3 Comp for $4000. It adds roughly 150 pounds to the curb weight, but the additional traction helps the 50 Jahre clobber its rear-drive counterpart by 0.7 and 0.6 second in the 60-mph and quarter-mile drags, respectively. The beauty of the Competition's xDrive mode is that it offers the best of both worlds: all-wheel drive for supercar-grade acceleration and decoupling of the front axle to enable a rear-drive mode for power-oversteer shenanigans.
Nothing in the segment comes close to the M3 Competition xDrive's acceleration, which plays in a world with Porsche 911s and Chevy Corvettes and isn't far from the 627-hp BMW M5 CS. Seriously quick. Furthering its supersedan status is a 1.03-g skidpad whirl and stops—aided by the $8500 carbon-ceramic brake package—from 70 mph in 153 feet and 100 mph in 297 feet. Some time behind the wheel of the BMW M4 CSL has us wondering what the Competition xDrive might be capable of if it were equipped with the CSL's sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R Track Connect rubber. They are, after all, a direct-fitment tire and available from TireRack for $1836.
Moving away from the World of Dynamic Insanity, when the drive modes are left in their softest Comfort settings, the M3 Competition xDrive is a livable place for daily consumption. The sharpest impacts reverberate up forged 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels and through the $4500 carbon-fiber buckets. The super-supportive seats are somewhat tricky to enter and exit yet provide a surprising amount of comfort.
As with all 2023 3-series, the M3's interior is treated to BMW's Curved Display that incorporates a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The iDrive 8 operating system replaces most of the physical buttons for the HVAC and radio controls with a not-so-intuitive infotainment menu structure. Fortunately, iDrive 8.5 rolls out this summer, and BMW promises to solve these teething issues by improving the layout. Perhaps the fact that this five-seat sleeper returned 27 mpg on our 75-mph fuel-economy test is enough to forgive iDrive's shortcomings.
Starting at $83,595, the M3 Competition xDrive delivers astounding performance for the money. The Edition 50 Jahre comes standard with a carbon-fiber splitter and decklid spoiler, titanium tailpipes trimmed with carbon fiber, M Sport seats, a 50 Jahre-specific carry-on suitcase, the Executive and Parking Assist packages, adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight, wireless device charging, and M Shadowline trim, swelling the window sticker to $96,695. The only extra-cost options are the aforementioned carbon-fiber seats and carbon-ceramic brakes. But its time at the top of the 3-series hierarchy will be limited. The lighter 2024 M3 CS with an extra 40 horses and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires arrives in the second half of this year. Whether the CS's $36,100 upcharge is an economically sound decision remains unknown, but it'll certainly contest the throne.
2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear/all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $83,595/$109,695
Options: 50 Jahre Edition (carbon-fiber splitter and decklid spoiler, carbon-fiber and titanium tailpipe trim, M Sport seats, carry-on suitcase, Executive and Parking Assist packages, adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight, wireless device charging, and M Shadowline trim), $13,100; carbon-ceramic brakes, $8500; carbon-fiber bucket seats, $4500
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 183 in3, 2993 cm3
Power: 503 hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 479 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.7-in vented, cross-drilled carbon-ceramic disc/15.0-in vented cross-drilled, carbon-ceramic disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4
F: 275/35ZR-19 (100Y) ★
R: 285/30ZR-20 (99Y) ★
Wheelbase: 112.5 in
Length: 189.1 in
Width: 74.3 in
Height: 56.5 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 55/43 ft3
Trunk Volume: 13 ft3
Curb Weight: 3929 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 2.8 sec
100 mph: 7.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.0 sec @ 124 mph
130 mph: 12.3 sec
150 mph: 18.2 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.2 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.4 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.7 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 156 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 153 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 297 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.03 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 15 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 27 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 420 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 18/16/22 mpg