2016 BMW M3 Review: A broken benchmark

– Cleveland, Ohio

Here is, by many measures, an amazing car. But the BMW M3 no longer dominates like it once did. If you’re looking for an evolution of the cars that came before it, look elsewhere.

Competition from long-time foe Mercedes-Benz has finally pulled even with the M3; the AMG C63 matches or exceeds the M3 in many ways. Even the Cadillac ATS-V has joined the sport sedan segment without a hint of irony and begun earning superlatives once reserved for the M3.

More than ever, we also judge the M3 against those glorious ghosts of the past: the E30, E36, E46, and E90 models. Each of those four generations set the standard in their day for accessible driving enjoyment, a centerline from which the latest car has drifted to become more complex and uncompromising than we remember.




  • The feeling of power when flooring the gas pedal is ferocious. The 3.0-liter biturbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine seems to summon more horsepower than its official rating of 425, and the car’s 4.1-second time for reaching 60 miles per hour is a testament to the sort of straight-line speed it can generate. Truly, be careful when stomping this car’s go pedal; you could give yourself whiplash.
  • The look of the latest M3 strikes a really good balance between understated and aggressive. Things like the exposed weave of the carbon-fiber roof, the hood’s power bulge, the deeply pocketed center caps of the 20-inch wheels, and those golden calipers clamping on giant carbon ceramic discs (an ex...