Car Reviews

2021 BMW M3 Competition Saloon Review

The new BMW M3 Competition driven in Ireland


This is the new sixth generation BMW M3 Competition, and it is BMW’s fastest, most powerful and possibly its most controversial M3 to date! It is always a big deal when BMW brings a new M3 to the market, and especially so when it represents a big departure from the previous model.

Controversially-styled, ridiculously powerful with a 510 horsepower 3.0-litre twin turbocharged engine and also more sophisticated than ever before with a dazzling array of customisable driver tech. With prices starting from around €127,000 in Ireland, it is more expensive than before however. The question remains, is it worth it?

Aside from this striking Isle of Man Green launch colour, it is hard to overlook the M3’s most distinctive design feature, which is of course the new enlarged kidney grilles up front.

Admittedly the design is taking getting used to and some would say that the new M3 has been overstyled in certain areas, but the more time we spend with it the more it makes the previous generation model look dated.

Elsewhere the look is more aggressive than before, with these large intakes and creases on the bonnet, while BMW’s laserlights are a €2,500 upgrade. Continuing around the side it has a gorgeous carbon roof, new air outlets with the M3 Competition logo and at the rear the M3 retains its trademark quad sports exhaust system.

Our test car is specced with an M Carbon Exterior styling pack which is a €7,000 option, and this includes the carbon fibre wing mirror casings, carbon fibre diffuser and lots more. These 19-inch bicolour alloy wheels up front and 20-inch alloys at the rear are another optional extra and really complement the look of the car along with red callipers on the M brakes.

In Ireland, BMW will only sell the competition version of the M3 which uses an updated S58 engine making 510 horsepower and 650 Neuton metres of torque, which means 0-100km/h is possible in just 3.9 seconds.

Open the door and the first thing that you’ll notice are these phenomenal M Carbon Bucket Seats, which are a €5,870 optional extra! They are amazingly supportive and comfortable but the large side bolsters can get in the way a little when you get in and out, but apart from that the driving position feels spot on. Carbon fibre detailing continues across the steering wheel and centre console and the M3 Competition feels so special to sit in before you even hit the start button.

The M3 Competition is every bit as exciting to drive as you would expect, with 510 horsepower going to the rear wheels via a new eight speed automatic transmission, which replaces the seven speed twin clutch of old. There is a manual gearbox option on the standard M3 but that won’t be coming to Ireland unfortunately.

Comparing the M3 to its most direct rival, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, it feels more assured and planted despite the fact that it is significantly heavier. In summary, the M3 Competition is spine tingling to drive in every sense of the word.

The steering is incredibly responsive and precise even though it is electric, and the brakes are powerful and don’t fade. For the first time you can even choose between comfort and sport braking modes to adjust the sensitivity of the brakes.

The M3 Competition offers comprehensive customisation options which can be selected through the infotainment screen on the dashboard, and then saved and accessed quickly through tese M1 and M2 controls on the steering wheel. If you are brave enough to turn stability control off, a 10-stage variable traction control system becomes available with a Drift Analyser!

Controversial, it may be, but the new BMW M3 Competition is the most impressive and accomplished mid-sized sports saloon on the market right now. It is remarkable to drive with phenomenal power and handling capabilities wrapped into an everyday useable package.

That said, as only the Competition model is available here in Ireland, prices are steep, with an entry price tag of €127,000 and the model you see here with all of its extras clocking in at over €146,000! Does the driving experience justify this however. Yes it does!