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BMW has given its 4WD M3s more power and more… headlights

Saloon and Touring turbos now come with 523bhp, are 0.5s faster to 124mph

Published: 29 May 2024

In other parts of the world, BMW offers its new M3 saloon in a beguiling spec: 473 horses, manual gearbox, rear-wheel-drive. Alas in the UK we have to make to do with [checks notes] the most powerful and most… 4WD versions.

Now, BMW has filled both those ‘Competition’ versions of the M3 saloon and M3 Touring with even more horses and even more acceleration.

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Not to 62mph, which remains the same for the M3 saloon (3.5s) and, OK, is one tenth faster for the excellent M3 Touring (3.6s), but from 0-124mph. Because both cars can crack that benchmark half a second faster than before, with the M3 saloon taking just 11.8s and the Touring 12.4s.

That’s thanks to a power boost from – yes, more numbers! – 503bhp to a new high of 523bhp, courtesy of “optimised configuration of the digital engine control unit”. Which we understand to mean that somewhere deep in the M3 Competition’s ECU, a few 0s were changed into 1s. Possibly.

There’s 479lb ft of torque on offer from the twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six, which, says BMW, offers an “even more ferocious, sustained power delivery”, especially when on a circuit. Which is probably where that improved 0-124mph time makes sense.

So, enough numbers, time to play Spot The Difference. No, still the same. Nope, that’s the same too. Correct! The headlights are new: a new design that excitingly brings both low and high beam into a single module, with arrow-shaped vertically arranged LEDs.

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There’s a new steering wheel inside, “sophisticated” materials for the instrument panel (perhaps they like jazz and a glass of red), version 8.5 of BMW’s Operating System, and new 19in/20in alloys. Otherwise it’s as you were before: eight-speed auto, 4WD, prodigious pace and talent, tonnes of driver assistance, lots of M-focused goodies, M-specific modes, and that kidney grille.

Very accomplished cars, Mssrs M3 saloon and M3 Touring, of course. Prices in the UK kick off from £82,420 for the four-door, and £84,700 for the estate. Though, we wouldn’t begrudge a beguiling, even-baser spec of fewer horses, a manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive.

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