Before I start, I would like to point out that I drove an M3, not an M4. However, most of the pictures here are of M4's. For the most part, my opinions can be flipped flopped for both cars. Those that cannot be will be pointed out separately. Enjoy the review, and leave a comment if you wish.
When I first heard that BMW was going to turbo-charge the F80 M3, I was furious. I mean, they gave us the seemingly perfect car that is the BMW M3 e92, and now they were backtracking a bit in my mind. But at the same time, I had only just started driving at the time and had no idea of the aspects of a practical car.
BMW, in my opinion, is a car founded on inline engines. Sure, their V8s a luscious, but their inlines are so much more charismatic and colorful. The sounds, the performance, the emotions that these engines emit are what BMWs are about. This is why I am happy that BMW is back with the inline-6 in the M3. The e30, e36, and e46 all had inline engines, I4s and I6s. All are great cars; legends of the automotive world (not saying the e92 isn’t good, it’s great but not as legendary in my opinion).
The only thing that I was concerned with was the addition of turbos. Turbos do mean higher torque, and power but also limit the engines rev range. M3’s are known to rev high, like 9,000k high. A turbo will never be able to rev that high, which is why I feared that this car would be less exciting. Boy was I in for a shock.
When you first press the accelerator of the F80, the surge of power and torque will catch you off guard. Honestly, you will not be expecting this car to move as fast as it does off the line. It is ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible. The twin-turbo straight 6 produces around 425hp and 405lb/ft of torque. Compared to the e92, the power gains aren’t significant, only about 10hp. However, torque is increased by about 110lb/ft. That is a lot!
Too manage this extra torque; the new M3/4 has been fitted with a DCT 7-speed transmission. You can set it to be as smooth as a 7-series, or as harsh as a racecar. It’s brilliant. Shifts are smooth, quick, and drama free. The steering mounted paddles are nicely done and spaced. This automatic transmission does carry a $3,000 fee, but you can opt for a manual if you please. However, the automatic does not detract from the car one bit, it’s that good.
Because of this extra torque, the F80 accelerates faster at lower rpms, and continues to hold power up till it’s relatively high 7,600 redline. And it sounds good all the way down the rev range. Sure, the sound is channeled through the speakers, but who cares. It sounds great, and real. And from the outside, this car sound absolutely brutal. Turbo’s spooling? Check. Crackling on deceleration? Check. A growl when you shift? Check. The F80 is an aural feast. Sure, it’s not like the e92’s V8, but honestly this car is on a different league.
The F80 M3 is about as practical as a 3-series, which means very. It’s spacious enough for 4 adults of heavy build. It has a nicely sized trunk. M4 is little less, because of the deletion of two full-size seats. Both can get 30mpg on the highway, and still take on a Vette when the time is right. And for the performance you’re getting, this car is a good bargain. For around $70,000, you’re getting 911 performance, with 3-series practicality.
But don’t think that this is just a glorified 3-series, its not. The wider stance, powerdome on the hood, and quad exhaust give this car a menacing personality. The back is particularly nice. Think vintage Kim Kardashian, before the all the men. It's outrageously nice to look at, but somewhat classy. Plus, the standard 18in rims are probably the best standard rims to ever be put on a car. It’s going to kill the Prius that just cut it off. It’s mean, but not over done. It’s not rude it’s aggressive. Think Frank Martin from the Transporter series. This car can do dirty work, and still look good.
The interior of the M3/4 is exceptional, far from a regular 3-series. Leather is everywhere, however cloth seats can be fitted (which are awesome by the way). Seats are comfy, headroom is good, and build is nice. The usual Bimmer toys are there; 360 view, iDrive, Harmon Kardon sound. Overall, the F80’s interior is an improvement over the e92 in every single way.
Steering is electric, but is nicely weighted. It’s heavy, but at the same time easy to turn. Feedback is good, and the car corners nicely. Body roll is minimal. The 50/50 weight distribution means that this car is controllable. If you put nice, all seasons or winter tires on this thing, you probably wouldn’t have any problem in the snow. Actually, you’ll have fun because drifting will be easy as getting a ticket with this car.
The ride is a little harsh, but by no means uncomfortable. Sure bumps aren’t deafened out completely, but those are what give this car a fun feeling. It’s a joy to drive, both slowly and spiritedly. You can opt for the ceramic brakes for around $8,000, but honestly the stock brakes are good enough for typical everyday driving style of an M3 owner.
Prices range from $62,500 for a base all the way to $75,000 for a take no prisoners, loaded model. I’m sure if you beat up the salesman a bit, you can knock those prices down significantly. You have a plethora of paints to choose from, Black Sapphire Metallic being my choice. Interior comes in partial leather, full leather, and surprisingly awesome cloth. And as stated before, the usual BMW toys are available to choose.
Compared to the e92 M3, the F80 is superior in every single way (except possibly sound). It has more useable power; it’s bigger, more practical, and more efficient. And honestly, I think it looks better, both from the inside and out. Sure it may not have a high-revving V8, but is that really what you need these days from your daily driver?
The B7 RS4, to me at least, was the ultimate daily driver. It was comfortable, rugged, and fast. You could use it all year, haul around your kids or drunken girlfriend(s), and hit up the track without ever actually leaving the car. However, ever since Audi ditched the RS4 for the US market, no car has been able to combine practicality and performance like it did…until now.
BMW slogan is “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. The F80 embodies this fully. It is the ultimate daily driving machine.