The 2018 BMW M3 has work to do even before anyone gets in and starts it up. It has a history to live up to and a fanbase to satisfy, and that’s not always easy.
With the M3, BMW has a car that’s been a poster on the wall of car enthusiasts for decades. It established its bona fides in the 1980s and 1990s with brilliant high-revving cars with beautifully progressive handling. The cars that followed didn’t disappoint. This generation of M3 is, without a doubt, the best performing to date, though those enthusiasts may not love it as much.
The 2018 BMW M3 delivers on the promises it has always made. It’s fast in a straight line and around a track. It has the room of a sedan, the menacing looks of a performance car, and more than a few BMW luxuries. We rate it rather highly at 7.4. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
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The only changes BMW has wrought for the new year are electric. The M3 now has LED headlights, a new iDrive infotainment touchscreen, and a newly standard rearview camera.
Today’s M3 taps into M3s of the past in some ways and breaks that tradition in others. Like some prior M3s, it has straight-6 power, but it is turbocharged and therefore doesn’t make its power up high and isn’t as rev happy.
With 425 horsepower on tap, plus an Active M Differential, adjustable dampers, and big brakes, the M3 is undeniably a performance machine, but some electronic controls have introduced a sometimes digital feel that enthusiasts bemoan. We are enamored of the M3’s on-track capability and we have experienced for ourselves that it can outperform the last-generation model, but we can also sympathize that the feel behind the wheel isn’t always there.
Inside, the M3 offers great sport seats, one of the better infotainment systems on the market, and room for five, though with a small back seat. BMW makes plenty of creature comforts standard, including 10-way power adjustable heated front seats, Bluetooth, navigation, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. In typical BMW fashion, though, there are lots of options for performance and comfort features. Performance options include carbon ceramic brakes and a Competition package that ups to horsepower to 444.
On the safety front, a rearview camera and adaptive cruise control are standard, and BMW offers a package with blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, a surround-view camera system, speed limit info, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking.