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2015 BMW M3 Long-Term Verdict

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/13/2015 Edward Loh, Motor Trend Staff

In just under a year, we logged 25,830 miles on our Austin Yellow 2015 BMW M3. That's an impressive amount of miles under my watch, since I live only 3 miles from the office, but I had a lot of help. I loaned the vehicle to various staff members when I was out of the office traveling. Jason Udy made several road trips to Salt Lake City, Utah, and found winter driving an M3 over the San Gabriel and Wasatch mountain ranges to be a cool breeze—so long as common sense and Pirelli Sottozero Serie II winter tires were utilized.

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For local trips, I most often handed the keys to trusted online producer Carol Ngo for her 60-mile round-trip commute from L.A. to Orange County. Her take on living with the M3 echoed my own general sentiments and those of other staffers: "The color took some getting used to, but over time, I learned to love it; it definitely stands out from the rest. Aside from the brakes and squeaks, I loved driving it on empty highways, ripping along in Sport+ mode. It sounds pretty damn beefy. All my friends loved it, too; they just enjoyed being driven around because the back seat is pretty roomy. I fit my whole bike in there without having to remove my front wheels."

2015-BMW-M3-front-three-quarter-in-motion© Provided by MotorTrend 2015-BMW-M3-front-three-quarter-in-motion We had no service issues with the M3—just two regular oil changes, both completely free of charge, covered under BMW's four-year, 50,000-mile warranty. A creaking chassis and shrieking brakes were early and constant complaints that we tried to address at our oil change appointments and via correspondence with BMW's headquarters. The chassis noises turned out to be a result of dirty door seals and were eventually addressed through cleaning and silicone lube. The brake issues only went away if we went to the track; more on that later.

Over time, I got used to the M3's peculiarities and intoxicating performance. My initial seething frustration with the dual-clutch transmission's parking sequence faded to mere chagrin every time I failed to follow the correct shutdown sequence. I stopped driving it like a madman after our week of testing during Best Driver's Car 2014; turns out you have little to prove after blasting up and down a 4-mile ribbon of road Motor Trend has shut down with the help of the CHP.

Along the way, I learned that the M3 will indeed surf: I dropped the rear seats to squeeze in a 7-foot surfboard on numerous occasions and even used a neat suction cup rack provided by our friends at Sea Sucker to carry a 10-foot longboard to my local break.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJSrwTq33V4&index=1&list=PLGvTvFzdMg_N86Ovr05-wgrjTam_2tH-p

At the end of our time with the M3, we sent it off in a manner befitting an Ultimate Driving Machine. For the pilot episode of his new YouTube program, " The Racing Line," our resident track assassin Randy Pobst needed a fast five-seater to demonstrate oversteer to a "studio audience." Filming took place at the gorgeous Atlanta Motorsports Park in Georgia, more than halfway to BMW's headquarters in New Jersey, so we said our goodbyes and strapped the M3 to a trailer headed east. After his shoot concluded, Randy kindly sent these notes:

"The M3 was an excellent candidate for the pilot episode on oversteer, as its minimal turbo lag and strong midrange torque could create long-lasting slides for the cameras, even with four actors on board with me! Believe me, the squeals of delight caught on film are genuine. In fact, the tail was more than ready to slide out at most times. Also impressive was the wear of the Michelin Pilot SuperSport tires, even under duress. The spares we brought were not necessary. Camera-car drive-bys were also facilitated by the strong and fade-free brakes. The standard non-adjustable suspension was a tad soft for extreme track work but pays back in street comfort."

2015-BMW-M3-front-three-quarters© Provided by MotorTrend 2015-BMW-M3-front-three-quarters Randy's comments highlight a key point: The M carbon-ceramic brakes work really well as intended: at the track, under conditions that generate intense, sustained heat. On trips to the office or our favorite third-wave coffee shop, the stopping power stayed true, but came with gritty pedal feel and a nails-on-chalkboard soundtrack. It got old, quick.

So here are things I would do differently if I could order the M3 again. I'd skip the $8,150 M carbon-ceramic brake package and instead spend $4,900 on the Executive package for the smartkey, park distance control, and rearview camera. (On the refreshed 2016 model, the smartkey, one year of satellite radio, and a Harmon Kardon sound system are standard on all models and the Executive package costs $3,500.) With the leftover cash, I'd put $1,000 toward the M adaptive dampers and save the rest for speeding tickets.

Our Car
SERVICE LIFE 12 mo / 27,596 mi
BASE PRICE $62,925
OPTIONS Carbon-ceramic brake rotors ($8,150), 7-speed twin-clutch auto. ($2,900), Lighting Package ($1,900: adaptive LED headlights, auto high-beam control), 19-inch black wheels ($1,200), Austin Yellow Metallic paint ($550), enhanced Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity ($500)
PRICE AS TESTED $78,125
AVG ECON/CO2 20.3 mpg / 0.96 lb/mi
PROBLEM AREAS Brake judder, door seals
MAINTENANCE COST $0 (2-oil change, inspection; 1-cabin-air filter)
NORMAL-WEAR COST $0
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $41,406
RECALLS Engine compartment sound insulation
*Automotive Lease Guide data

2015 BMW M3
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE Twin-turbo I-6, aluminum block/head
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 181.8 cu in/2,979cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.2:1
POWER (SAE NET) 425 hp @ 5,500 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 406 lb-ft @ 1,850 rpm
REDLINE 7,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 8.4 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto.
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.46:1/2.32:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 15.0:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.8
BRAKES, F;R 15.8-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 15.0-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 9.0 x 19-in; 10.0 x 19-in, forged aluminum
TIRES, F;R 255/35R19 92Y; 275/35R19 100Y Michelin Pilot Super Sport
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 110.7 in
TRACK, F/R 62.2/63.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 184.5 x 73.9 x 56.1 in
TURNING CIRCLE 40.0 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3,571 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 52/48%
SEATING CAPACITY 5
HEADROOM, F/R 40.3/37.7 in
LEGROOM, F/R 42.0/35.1 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.1/55.1 in
CARGO VOLUME 12.0 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 1.6 sec
0-40 2.4
0-50 3.0
0-60 3.9
0-70 4.9
0-80 6.1
0-90 7.4
0-100 9.0
0-110 10.7
0-120 12.8
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 1.8
QUARTER MILE 12.2 sec @ 117.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 99 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.99 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.0 sec @ 0.85 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,800 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/yes
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/unlimited
FUEL CAPACITY 15.8 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 17/24/19 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 198/140 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.99 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

2015-BMW-M3-front-three-quarter-in-water© Provided by MotorTrend 2015-BMW-M3-front-three-quarter-in-water
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