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The problem borne by the BMW M3 is that it has to live up to its reputation, and given today’s requirements for new cars, it doesn’t have the visceral feeling that fostered a generation of fans. But it doesn’t abandon its roots; the 2017 BMW M3 is a version of the car that 30 years ago did burnouts in young men’s hearts and on their bedroom walls. (The lighter and nimbler BMW M2 might be seen as the spiritual successor to the original M3.)
The 2017 BMW M3 is in the third year of the current generation.
The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is turbocharged, and it revs to 7600 rpm. It may be less visceral because the engine doesn’t scream like it used to (the exhaust note is piped in), and the car is heavier, but you can’t fault the performance.
The 2017 M3 offers a Competition package that brings 444 horsepower and a tad quicker acceleration, as if the standard 425 horsepower and zero-to-sixty time of 3.9 seconds weren’t enough. There’s heaps of torque, something the old beloved M3 didn’t have; 408 pound-feet drops your jaw early, at 1800 rpm, and continues up to 5500 rpm. The sound splayed out of the quad-tipped exhaust is menacing and unnerving; combined with the piped-in notes, the classic melody seems unfortunately muddled.
Also new, the Active M suspension is now standard on 2017 M3 models (last year it was a $1000 option, as the sticker price of the 2017 M3 goes up by $1500). The electronic system includes Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes that vary the stiffness of the dampers in instantaneous time. The modes also alter the steering resistance.
Standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, but we like the 7-speed DCT, a twin-clutch automatic manual with seamless shifts and programmable patterns that work for daily driving. It’s the DCT that scores the fastest 0-60 time. It gets one less mile per gallon than the 6-speed manual, at 17/24 mpg City/Highway, 19 mpg Combined.
Although the M3 hasn’t been crash-tested by the government or insurance association, the BMW 3 Series with the same structure has been. Its scores were okay, although just Marginal on the IIHS small overlap test on which so few cars score Good.