autoevolution
2021 BMW M3 G80 specs  
base price
$ 70,000
fully loaded
$ 120,000

2021 BMW M3 G80 Review

CAR SIZE: mid-size
BODY TYPE: Sedan
Whenever a new BMW M3 is on the verge of being launched, the automotive scene holds its breath. And for good reason - pretty much all generations of M3 have been the very best in class (at least when each one was first introduced), so people are expecting this new M3 based on the new G20 3 Series to continue that tradition.
12 photos
BMW M3 G80 renderingBMW M3 G80 rendering2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring2020 BMW M3 Spied Testing Hard at the Nurburgring
The formula for the new M3 is predictable, though. BMW will plonk in its new 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six, codenamed S58, its body will be wider and lower to the ground compared to the normal 3-Series and its interior will receive a sporty makeover too, complete with body-hugging sports seats, a unique steering wheel and details to remind its future owner that he or she has bought something quite special.

One major change that is set to be operated to its now traditional formula will be the addition of all-wheel drive. This is a first for an M3, and if it’s anything like the system fitted to the M5 (which it most likely will be), then it will still feel like a rear-wheel-drive vehicle but be more capable in the wet (and generally in low grip conditions).

On top of all this, BMW has chosen to differentiate the M3’s fascia compared to that of the regular 3 Series even more by fitting it with a... unique kidney grille design. This, along with the addition of all-wheel drive is bound to stir up some controversy, and this only makes us even more eager to see how the car is received.

1Exterior design & features

The new BMW M3 will have bulging wheel arches, to accommodate the Motorsport version of the 3 Series’ increased track width and wider wheels. To a car guy, this wider stance will make the new M3 instantly pop because it makes the regular sedan on which it’s based look tame and mild. It’s what BMW does with all its Motorsport models and it’s a strategy that never fails to add visual punch.

It will also feature some sort of vent on the front fender (a real one, not a fake as is often the case nowadays, even on performance cars). In the rear, there’s no reason why BMW couldn’t give it a small trunk lid spoiler, although it may not come as standard but be available as an option (or come standard on the more hardcore M3 Competition model).

The M3’s bigger wheels will also help set it apart, as will its bigger brakes with contrasting color calipers and a lowered ride height. Finally, unique paint finishes will be available to complete the Motorsport makeover.

Oh, actually, there is one more thing and it’s pretty major. BMW has chosen to differentiate the new M3’s fascia much more than ever before. You may remember the two-door BMW Concept 4 design study that was recently revealed - aside from the fact that it really looks excellent from pretty much all angles, it has a... unique front fascia that got people talking (not in a flattering way).

The front fascia offenders on the Concept 4 were the two gaping nostrils that served as the grille - probably the biggest grille ever on a BMW. Well, if you thought the negative reception that concept got was enough to deter the Bavarian automaker from putting that look into production, then you thought wrong. What the manufacturer is doing is using that specific look on some of its future performance cars, and the new M3 is one of them (the next M4 is another).

2Interior design, features
and passenger space

BMW has really moved the game on with the G20 3 Series’ interior. It has a fully digital gauge cluster that in the M3 will get unique graphics and quite possibly extra options too. The steering wheel will also get a makeover over that in the standard 3 Series - it will look a lot like the steering wheel in the new M8 (complete the two red M buttons placed right next to the shift paddles). Along with the special wheel, the M3 will have a unique knob atop the gear lever for both manual and automatic versions.

Seats are another area where the M3 will be better and sportier than the regular 3. The M3’s seats will look considerably sportier than even those in the M340i, currently the fastest version of the 3 Series you can buy (not counting the new Alpina B3). Special bits of trim and M logos and badges will make the M3’s interior feel that extra bit more special; oh, and BMW also gives its latest M cars a red starter button to complete the Motorsport interior makeover.

3Gadgets

Aside from being a hardcore performance version of the 3 Series, the M3 is also a flagship model in terms of equipment - it comes with plenty of standard features, many of which are optional on lesser models. It will have the 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster as standard, as well as the larger 12.3-inch infotainment screen - BMW calls this the “Live Cockpit.”

Electric, heated front bucket seats are also among the standard features, plus front and rear parking sensors (for most markets). It also comes with performance-enhancing standard features too: adaptive M suspension, an active electronically controlled M limited-slip differential that becomes more aggressive when the car is in its sportier modes.
One feature the new M3 has that the old F30-based model doesn’t have is a drift mode. Because the G80 M3 will have standard all-wheel drive, BMW will allow future owners to stop any kind of power being sent to the front wheels through the press of a button. This feature is already present in the M5 and it really allows for some crazy tail-out antics to occur.

4Performance

BMW will offer the new M3 in two flavors from launch: there will be the standard version, with 473 horsepower, but those looking for more will be able to opt for the 503 horsepower M3 Competition. Manual and automatic versions will most likely be offered, although this has not been officially confirmed - there is a chance you won’t be able to get the car with a stick.

All-wheel drive will be standard on all models, but we shouldn’t rule out the fact that BMW could launch a more hardcore, lightweight version of the M3 in the future - this could ditch the all-wheel-drive in the quest for lightness.

The M3’s sprint time to 100 kph (62 mph) will definitely drop under the 4-second mark, even in the regular-powered model. The M3 Competition might even be able to go even lower under 3.5 seconds, thanks to the extra power and the extra traction of that all-wheel-drive.

5Safety

All M3s will come with BMW’s Active Guard Plus fitted as standard. It includes Front collision warning with brake intervention (and pedestrian recognition), lane departure warning and speed limit recognition (the car will slow down when cruise control is enabled and it detects a lowering of the speed limit).

The M3’s biggest safety feature are its super-sharp handling thanks to its sticky tires that provide a lot of grip, the beefed-up M brakes, the all-wheel-drive which is sure to make the car a much more manageable fast driver and the sheer agility a car this sorted and powerful can provide.

6Conclusion

BMW hasn’t gone crazy with power - the new M3 has enough go to be a strong contender in the class. It has given the car all-wheel-drive and that’s sure to upset those who say sending power to the front wheels ruins the feel of the steering. The car is just an evolution of the M3 formula grafted onto the new G20 3 Series. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

There is a lot to like about the new M3, but it’s never in its history had a polarizing face. Now, though, BMW has taken quite a big gamble with its crazy front fascia, and for the first time ever, people might be put off by the way the car looks and choose a rival model instead solely based on aesthetics.