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2015 BMW M3: Around the Block

Chris NelsonwriterPatrick M. Hoeyphotographer

The all-new 2015 BMW M3 is the car you wanted, and don't say it isn't. Don't pass the blame, don't dodge this bullet, and don't duck out. Just take responsibility for what you've done. BMW has heard you, and now a once-magical car has become an overpowered yet somewhat distant sedan.

Impressive and imposing, but only half way

Five generations on from the 1986 E30 version of the M3, the new F80 M3 is more arresting now than ever before, made from a complex mix of composite materials and lightweight metals and powered by a 425-hp, twin-turbocharged inline-six that returns 26 mpg on the highway. It's imposing.

The 2015 BMW M3 makes impressive performance numbers by sprinting to 60 mph in 4 seconds and then running through the lights in the quarter mile in 12 seconds. It'll easily pull 1 g in cornering grip on the skidpad. On the street, it can stomp just about anything from a stoplight. On the track, it cuts a lap quicker than cars double its price and half its size.

"Five generations on, the M3 is more arresting now than ever before."

While performance numbers don't lie, they can tell half-truths. There are few things this tech-laden performance sedan can't do, but there are even fewer moments of emotional connection. I never feel as if this fast but flavorless car needs me. There's no relationship, no teasing the car to do things at the edge of its abilities. I'm behind the steering wheel and feel like a passenger.

Savagery trumps sensitivity

The 2015 BMW M3 fights for its bread in a world now full of hungry, high-horsepower four-doors such as the Audi RS7, Chevrolet SS, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Jaguar XFR-S, and Mercedes-AMG C63. But as the M3 has evolved into a car that can bare its teeth to such savage sedans, it has lost its sensitivity.

As gag-worthy as it might be to say yet again, driving is an art. A great driving experience is more than just shifting quickly, convincing your right foot to stay down, then clinging to a steering wheel.

The M3 lives in the world you wanted, a world all about performance, not driving. Take responsibility for what it has become.

2015 BMW M3 Specifications

  • Base price: $62,925
  • Price as tested: $84,650
  • Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6/425 hp @ 5,500-7,300 rpm, 406 lb-ft @ 1,850-5,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan
  • EPA Mileage: 17/26 mpg (city/highway)
  • 0-60 mph: 4.1 sec
  • Top speed: 155 mph
  • Cargo capacity: 12.0 cu ft