ANN ARBOR For all those American BMW enthusiasts who have looked longingly at the Euro-only M3 CSL, the M3 Competition Package gets closer to fulfilling their desires. While this isn't as radical as the lightweight CSL-which has a carbon-fiber roof, more power, and virtually no creature comforts-it does address the wishes of track-day warriors.
The standard eighteen-inch footwear has been replaced by nineteen-inch forged-aluminum wheels shod with 225/40 front and 255/35 rear Michelin Pilot Sports; the disc brakes are now cross-drilled, the front rotor diameter has been increased from 12.8 to 13.6 inches, and the steering ratio is quicker. The Comp Package features revised spring and damper rates that pertain to all '05 M3s. As with the CSL, there is an M track mode for the stability system, which intrudes later than normal. Inside, the hand-brake grip and the steering wheel are trimmed in Alcantara. There is a unique aluminum finish, too, but you lose the cruise control.
The M3 was already one of our favorite cars, and the Comp Package makes it even more desirable. The steering and turn-in are sharper than before, while grip from the fat Michelins and body control at the limit are enhanced. The downside is a ride that is borderline acceptable on broken pavement, but that was the case with previous M3s fitted with the optional nineteens. The track mode doesn't allow as much leeway as the comparable Chevrolet Corvette system, but it's a nice safety net, because this M3 loves to break loose.
At $4000, the Comp Package is a pretty good deal, but it works best for hard-core M3 drivers-the ones who think stock eighteen-inch wheels and tires are for wusses.
Price: $55,840 (as tested)
Engine: 3.2L DOHC I-6, 333 hp, 262 lb-ft