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2015 BMW M3 Long-Term Update 4

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/27/2015 Motor Trend Staff, Jason Udy

Spring has already sprung, so you’ll have to excuse the tardiness of this update, as it relates entirely to how our long-term BMW M3 handled one of the snowiest winters on record. I had several overseas trips this winter, and our ever resourceful associate online editor Jason Udy politely asked whether he could borrow my car for road trips from Los Angeles to see friends in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I said, yes, with one stipulation: Our M3 gets new winter boots. After doing a bit of research with the experts at tirerack.com, we sent a note to Woody Rogers, one of Tire Rack’s experts, to confirm our selection of the Pirelli Sottozero Serie II, which retailed for $332 for each front tire (255/35R19) and $342 for each rear (275/35R19).

Woody wrote back: “They should provide some mobility in the snow (way better than the OEM Michelin Pilot Super Sports) and still work reasonably well on clear dry or wet roads. All in all, a good balance for mixed-use conditions on a sporty car like the M3.” We hope so, because Udy put a lot of hard mountain miles on the M3… -- Ed Loh

© Provided by MotorTrendJason’s Notes: Christmas on Winter Rubber

The M3 has enough power to spin the Pirellis on dry pavement with temperatures between 40 and 70 degrees — or any temperature for that matter. Despite the traction/stability control light flashing, the car accelerated strongly up to 90 mph while spinning the rear tires.

Though it snowed most of Christmas day, the road was warm enough to melt the snow until sunset, when the temperature began to drop. The melted snow aka water on the roads froze, and the snow continued to come down until there was a sheet of ice under about 2 inches of snow. Driving was like ice-skating. The Pirellis gripped well off the line if you eased into the throttle and were able to do about 17-20 mph for 2 miles in a 35-mph zone on black ice.

Too much throttle would cause the car to slide sideways or fishtail down the road. Moderate acceleration was fine, but much over 20 mph was hairy. Everyone else was going around 20 mph, so no reason to go faster. The stability control didn’t kick in, because the tires were sliding not spinning, but there isn’t much hope for most tires on black ice. The M3 managed to stop safely (straight) at lights and stop signs with proper following and early braking. There was noticeable ABS activity when trying to stop, but it always stopped straight.

A few days later the snow returned, but this time without ice beneath it. The M3 would accelerate strongly and straight under part throttle without the nannies intervening but would fishtail under aggressive throttle. The car was also stable on wet, rain-slicked roads with temps above freezing. The tires also performed well on slushy roads as long as there wasn’t excessive throttle.

On dry roads, the tires did an admirable job on and around curved on-ramps, off-ramps, curves, and interchanges and well above posted speeds even with temperatures down into the single digits. It handled 25-mph, 360-degree interchanges and off ramps at 45-50 mph when the roads were dry, even below freezing temperatures.

I’m impressed with how well the tires did considering their width.

2015 BMW M3© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 BMW M3 On that trip, Jason put about 3,500 miles on the M3 in three trips back and forth from L.A. to Salt Lake City. A few weeks later, he borrowed the vehicle again for some more Utah road trippin’, though this time the ground was dry, even if the temperatures ranged from 30-65 degrees. The Pirelli Sottozero Serie II winter tires were still on the vehicle as a precautionary measure.

Jason’s Notes: Ups and downs and MPG

Fuel economy is impressive given this vehicle’s performance capabilities. Over the course of my 1,563-mile round trip, the M3 averaged 25.0 mpg. All but about 231 of those miles was spent driving from Downey, California, to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Salt Lake City is at an elevation of 4,500 feet with multiple summits of above 6,000 feet on the way up. I kept the engine in the efficiency mode and the transmission in the most comfortable mode., and even with all of the elevation changes, the M3 averaged 24.4 mpg with the cruise control set 5-10 mph over the speed limit (75-90 mph). On the return trip, the M3 averaged 28.5 mpg with the same vehicle settings and speeds. Thanks gravity!

The worst observed fuel economy (besides city driving) was from North Las Vegas, Nevada, up to Fillmore, Utah, when I averaged 23.9 mpg over 269.4 miles. The best was 29.0 mpg for the 342.5 miles from Mesquite, Nevada, down to my home in Downey.

© Provided by MotorTrend During 231.0 “city” miles, I went through nearly a tank of fuel with the car set in Sport+ for the engine, transmission, and steering. The M3 still managed 20.0 mpg after relatively hard driving. Overall, the M3 averaged 25.0 mpg—in hilly conditions and on winter tires. That is the best fuel mileage of any sports car I’ve taken to Utah, and I’ve road tripped the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon, Nissan GT-R, and Jaguar F-Type.

As for the ride, the M3 is fine on smooth roads, but even small imperfections can make the cabin squeak, and the suspension crashes all over itself. The brakes are amazing and slow the car much quicker than they need to. Some gripes: Why is there no backup camera and XM in a $78k car? And even with all the adjustments, I couldn’t find a comfortable lumbar setting for the seats.

Overall, it’s a fun car with room for four adults comfortably. And it’s fast and handles great. The color is polarizing, but it grew on most people.

More on our long-term 2015 BMW M3 here:

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