It's a common problem: You have to transport your family, but you still want to go fast and have fun. What's a driving enthusiast to do? Try the 2018 BMW M3. This performance variant of the brand's 3 Series merges practicality and performance into one highly enjoyable sport sedan.
The transformation from luxury-oriented 3 Series to really fast luxury-oriented M3 includes a vastly more powerful six-cylinder engine, bigger wheels, stickier tires, stronger brakes and firmer suspension tuning. The exterior changes are more subtle. Aficionados will recognize it immediately, but most might not notice the quad exhaust tips, domed hood, wider fenders and carbon-fiber roof.
What we really love about the M3, though, is that it retains its civility in spite of the performance upgrades. The ride quality remains comfortable thanks to adaptive dampers, the seats are supportive yet comfortable enough for long road trips, and the back seat and trunk are spacious. While there are higher-performing competitors, and more luxurious ones, few blend both traits with the fluidity of the 2018 BMW M3.
trim levels & features
The BMW M3 is a four-door, five-passenger high-performance car that's based on the company's 3 Series. Its sedan layout gives it practicality for daily use, while its sporting hardware upgrades make it more exciting to drive. The few options packages available can increase performance further and add more comfort features.
Under the hood is a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine (425 horsepower, 406 pound-feet of torque) that sends its power to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic.
Standard equipment highlights include adaptive suspension dampers, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, power and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition and entry, auto-dimming mirrors, BMW iDrive infotainment interface (with a 8.8-inch display screen), a navigation system and a Harman Kardon sound system.
The Competition package sharpens the M3's responses by boosting engine output to 444 hp and further tuning the suspension and differential. It also includes lightweight 20-inch forged wheels.
The Driving Assistance package is where you'll find advanced safety features. This package includes lane departure warning, forward collision warning (with pedestrian detection) and low-speed automatic emergency braking. It also adds a feature that displays the posted speed limit in the gauge cluster.
The Executive package adds more convenience-based extras such as adaptive headlights with auto high beams, heating for the steering wheel and rear seats, a head-up display, side- and top-view parking cameras, and an automated parking system.
Stand-alone options include carbon-ceramic brake rotors, a nonadaptive suspension, a sunroof, blind-spot monitoring, wireless device charging and Apple CarPlay phone integration. Owners seeking more thrill should consider the M Driver's package, which is essentially one day of high-performance driving education.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 BMW M4 (turbo 3.0L inline-6 | 6-speed manual | RWD).
NOTE: The M4 is the coupe variant of the M3. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's BMW M3, however.
noise & vibration
ease of use
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.