Used BMW M3 Is A Fantastic Sports Sedan

Used BMW M3 Is A Fantastic Sports Sedan

The BMW M3 is a sports sedan that comes dangerously close to being flawless. All-wheel-drive technology provides confidence in inclement weather and plenty of grip for powerful acceleration. You can also direct all power to the back wheels. However, the highs are so intense that the car’s unresponsive handling and short exhaust notes stand out.

Sure, it’s overdone and the huge grille gets mocked, but experience its delightful manual transmission, or race its smooth six-cylinder to the limit and the stylistic stigma fades. Because rear-wheel drive and a stick shift are required, the base 473-hp M3 is the purist’s M3. If faster lap times are more important, the Competition variant comes with an upgraded twin-turbo straight-six engine with 503 horsepower and a track-tuned chassis. It is only available with an automatic transmission, but it is also the only way to add all-wheel drive. When the race day is over, the ferocious BMW may be transformed into a calm daily driver. Unfortunately, its cluttered digital instruments and unnecessary drive-mode modifications can ruin the mood. 


The M3 sedan, like the forthcoming M4 coupe, is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. The standard model produces 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque at the rear wheels. The only transmission option is a six-speed manual. The M3 Competition’s engine is even more powerful, producing 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, but it is only available with the eight-speed automatic transmission. The Used BMW M3 Comp comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but an all-wheel-drive system with a rear-drive mode is also available. Every M3 comes standard with adaptive dampers and a customizable brake pedal feel. The sedan can also be upgraded with more powerful carbon-ceramic brakes with cool gold-painted calipers.

Critics’ first drives of the standard M3 and Competition variants demonstrated their capacity to pull off lurid drifts, which were encouraged by the optional M Drift Analyzer (part of the M Drive professional package). They also fell in love with the manual gearbox’s delightful shifts, as well as the engine’s tenacious acceleration. However, the M3 doesn’t absorb the driver as much as the raucous Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.


The BMW M3 Competition xDrive is lightning fast. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph takes only 3.2 seconds, easily defeating the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and Audi RS5 Sportback. Even in Sport mode, the transmission can be hesitant to downshift. So, if you’re preparing to face some winding mountain roads, keep the transmission in manual mode.

The M3 Competition is a real performance sedan, with excellent cornering grip and very minimal roll. This M3 model now includes all-wheel drive. It not only reduces acceleration times but also enhances traction when it begins to snow outside. If you still enjoy tailgating, you can disengage the all-wheel-drive system and direct all of the power to the back wheels.

Unfortunately, BMW’s current steering tuning remains adequate but not exceptional. The car responds quickly to driver inputs, but in Comfort mode, steering effort does not increase as you go away from the dead center. This lack of effort buildup makes it impossible to determine where the wheels are oriented intuitively, which is especially noticeable in back-to-back cornering. Sport mode, with its heavier weight, is required for spirited driving.

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Aside from the characteristic “M” badging and trim features, the inside of the M3 is identical to that of the normal 3-series. That is the M3 shares the same design, passenger room, and exterior visibility as its more pedestrian sibling. While M vehicles are noted for their more powerful performance, they also meet or exceed the materials and build quality of the top-tier 3-series. Of course, the M3 features extra carbon fiber and microsuede details for a sportier look. The driver is faced with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that switches to M View in the sportier drive modes; they are controlled by prominent red buttons on the big steering wheel of the M3. Switching to M View adds a shift indication and replaces the standard tachometer with a more readable one.

A set of fully bolstered, lightweight front seats (standard on the Competition) is available and provides amazing support without losing much comfort, but this may not be true on extended road journeys. The adaptive dampers help prevent the sport-tuned suspension and low tire sidewalls from making the M3’s ride too harsh in Comfort mode. Even though the optional carbon-fiber bucket seats, which our test car had, don’t have many adjustments, it’s rather simple to dial in a comfortable arrangement. However, the carbon-fiber insert in the center of the seat may force some drivers to splay their legs while driving. Interior space is adequate for a compact vehicle, with somewhat more legroom than competitors. The M3 has thick windscreen pillars, which reduce forward visibility significantly, but this is standard for the segment.

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Even if you’re just traveling down the highway, the M3 offers plenty of in-car technology to keep you and your passengers engaged. The M3’s infotainment system is controlled by a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a rotary knob, and buttons on the center console. The system includes a number of charging connections as well as a number of basic and optional features. BMW has finally integrated Android Auto and no longer requires a premium subscription for Apple CarPlay. Both are standard, as are a Harman/Kardon sound system and a one-year SiriusXM satellite radio subscription, as well as four USB outlets and a wireless charging pad. Optional features include gesture controls, a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot, and a wireless charging pad. 

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Fuel Economy

The M3 is rated at 16/23 mpg city/highway, while the M3 Competition xDrive is rated at 16/22 mpg. The addition of all-wheel drive reduces the highway estimate to 22 mph.

Safety Features

Key safety features include:

  • Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
  • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  • Available adaptive cruise control


The BMW M3 is the car that admirers need and competitors want to beat. The M3 has always been the automobile that best embodies the company’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” moniker. If you want to go all-in on the BMW M3, we recommend the M3 Competition xDrive. It not only boosts driver confidence on slick roads, but it also improves acceleration and handling. Even better, daring drivers can choose rear-wheel drive only when they want it. The main drawback is that BMW’s slick-shifting manual transmission is only available on the basic M3.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is the BMW M3 expensive to maintain?

The annual car maintenance costs for the BMW M3 are $1,161. Given that the average BMW M3 costs $1,161 and the average vehicle costs $651 per year —- the M3 is significantly less expensive to maintain. 

Is the 2018 M3 a good used car?

If you want to save a lot of money, you should get a 2018 BMW M3. When it was new, the starting price was $67,495. A short search reveals that used models are available for $8,000 to $15,000 less. Many M3s would have seen extensive street use and possibly more than a few track days as high-performance sports sedans.

The 2018 M3 is a fantastic performer even though it lacks the power of the new model. The twin-turbo inline-six makes 425 horsepower in the base trim. If you choose the optional Competition package, the engine is tuned to 444 horsepower. Both send power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Competition model could go from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds.

How long will an M3 engine last?

The BMW M3 has a life expectancy of up to 150,000 to 200,000 miles, depending on a variety of factors. The most crucial element is to always provide your car with good care and to adhere to regularly scheduled maintenance intervals.

Is the M3 worth buying?

Whatever generation of the BMW M3 you choose, it will be one of the best driving vehicles money can buy. The BMW M3 is a sports sedan that is perilously close to perfection. All-wheel-drive technology gives you confidence in bad weather and ample grip for quick acceleration. You can even send all of your power to the back wheels.