2022 BMW M3 Review: One of the Best Cars, But…

MALIBU, Calif. — The Encinal and Decker Canyon roads are serious challenges for anything that rolls on four wheels. They are incredibly tight, twisty and demand the driver’s attention. Larger vehicles simply survive on these roads, including those with otherwise exemplary performance. The 2022 BMW M3 is certainly no small car, as the latest generation of the G80 3-series has swelled to comparable proportions to the age-old E39 BMW M5.

Despite this, the M3 delicately danced through the relentless series of back-and-forths thrown at it by those demanding Malibu driving roads. No yellow line was crossed, nor was a crumbling rock face grazed. Credit goes to the steering here, which isn’t something that’s been said about a BMW since…ah, I can’t think of anything since the BMW M3 E90. This version, however, is very different from what was found in this V8-powered masterpiece. This direction is considerably lighter in effort. Some might say too light, but I’d say they’re wrong. Weight is not synonymous with sportiness. You don’t need to muscle this car, you can steer it with precision at your fingertips. A Porsche is like that too, and while the M3 doesn’t quite hit that bar in terms of feedback, it’s a delightful new horizon for BMW that will hopefully trickle down to the rest of its fleet. .

Now, like seemingly every car these days, there are adjustable drive settings. BMW makes it super easy to set them up the way you like them, with a dedicated ‘Setup’ button on the center console and two red paddle buttons on the steering wheel that can be preset with a mixed configuration of your choosing. M1 became my everyday rider setting (all comfort except steering because despite what I just said I preferred a bit more heft and sharpness in the center than the comfort setting), while M2 had most elements in the most aggressive setting. The engine and suspension stand out by adding an additional Sport Plus option beyond Comfort and Sport, and although I opted for that with the engine, I left the suspension in the mid-level Sport. The roads were just too bumpy for the firmest setting, which is more about keeping the chassis calm through corners than protecting my spine.

Speaking of which, the new M3 deserves a round of applause for its ride comfort. I drove it just north of Malibu to San Diego and back (about 280 miles) on the Los Angeles shitty buffet, and was blown away by the adaptive suspension’s ability to soak up anything thrown at it. was launched. I would drive this M3 across the country tomorrow if I needed to, without a second thought. This contrasts with the BMW X3 M Competition and its rock-solid ride that I didn’t want to put up with more than a block.

Surprising comfort points also go to this M3’s $4,500m carbon bucket seats, which have proven to be supportive over long distances despite their tight bolsters and relative lack of padding. Hard seats tend to be more supportive. That said, these seats are ridiculous. You can see right through them for starters: at the shoulders, in the backrest and on the lower bolsters, which look like grab handles on a Porsche Cayenne rather than seat bolsters. They are also made of carbon fiber with sparse padding, which means you have to be very careful while getting into this car. Your thigh or more valuable morsels might be unwelcome. Going out is hardly graceful either. Then there’s the weird mid-thigh support, which I guess helps you stay put in the turns, but you’d have to have awfully skinny legs so it doesn’t start digging into your thigh when you use the clutch.

Oh yes, and this M3 had the six-speed manual transmission. That means it has 473 horsepower rather than the automatic M3 Competition’s 503, plus a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds achieved by a pro rider versus 3.8 seconds achieved by almost anyone with a foot. right. Do I care? No. Bombing the mountain roads of Malibu, taking a long road trip, or just going to the grocery store, I’ll take the manual, please. Thanks to BMW for continuing the option. It’s easy enough to drive, with an easily modulated clutch, a slick gearbox for a BMW (the throws will still be too long and rubbery for some) and perfectly placed pedals for acceleration. Rev-dependent automatic downshifting is also among the options you can select in these drive mode presets and, as usual, it works great to ensure perfect downshifts every time.

When it comes to the engine, there’s no denying that it has the right performance with those 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque flowing only to the rear wheels. That sounds like a fair amount of power, compared to the kind of stupid, when-are-you-really-going-to-use-that excess of so many turbocharged engines today. It also sounds pretty good – I actually turned off the M Sound Control enhancement which just seemed to add pressure to my eardrums and make the engine hum louder than its bark – but it’s not the loudest engine noise according to M3 standards. You don’t wring it out just to hear it, like you would the pre-turbo generations. But it’s okay, things are moving forward.

Finally, let’s talk a bit about the paint color you see here. If you’ve looked through the M3 configurator on BMW’s website, you’ll notice that Verde Mantis isn’t among the choices. That’s because it’s a custom order under the wonderful BMW Individual program. Beyond that, it’s not even listed among the suggested choices on the BMW Individual “Visualizer.” It’s quite the color, which is a sentiment I’ve heard a lot while driving this M3. I’m a big fan of bright colors on relatively understated cars, so I have no qualms about making it a choice even if it’s not quite my (green) cup of tea.

Of course, a not very muted color is probably a good idea as it distracts from the car it’s coated in. Some say the M3’s giant nostrils have started growing on them, but so do if you give it a chance. It’s hideous, and would absolutely prevent me from buying this car despite it being one of the best cars I’ve driven in recent memory. That would be a top 10… but that face.

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