• 2022 BMW M3 Competition - Driving Impressions

The M3 Competition is an impressively fun car, though it’s not for everybody

The BMW 3 Series is widely regarded as the poster child of what a compact luxury sedan is supposed to be. The M3 Competition, on the other hand, serves as a firm representation of what a compact performance saloon should be. The range of sheer precision and performance between a base 3 Series and the M3 Competition is so wide that the two couldn’t feel more different from a driver’s perspective. With just over 500 horsepower on tap, is the M3 Competition really suitable as a daily road car, though? I spent a week with it to find out, and let’s just say that there’s more to the M3 than the grille.

BMW M3 Competition Driving Impressions

2022 BMW M3 Competition - Driving Impressions Drivetrain
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From the moment you enter the M3’s cabin and press the start button, your nervous system will go into high alert as that brutal 3.0-liter inline-six under the hood roars to life. Your immediate response might be to get a little anxious or perhaps giggle a little, and that’s okay, you probably should. With 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque on tap, some would even argue that at this size, the M3 Competition is a little overpowered. And, that may be true to an extent – it’s not for everyone, but those who know how to handle it are in for the most engaging drive of their life below the $100,000 mark.

2022 BMW M3 Competition - Driving Impressions Exterior
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Despite the roar of the engine, the aggressive exterior, and the aggressively supportive front seats, the M3 Competition will surprise you the first time you drive it. There’s no preparation for how brutal and relentless this compact sedan can be. As you hit the gas and launch for the first time, the feeling of all that torque shunting to all four wheels is a bit off-putting at first, but the real fun comes in at around 2,600 rpm when peak torque comes into play. The lack of a manual transmission might not make you happy, but BMW’s ZF eight-speed auto is so smooth and responsive that it’s understandable why BMW stuck with it for the M8 Competition. Downshifts could be a tiny bit faster at times, but to be honest, if that’s something that bothers you, you probably don’t belong in a car like the M3 Competition anyway.

The steering and chassis are almost as surprising as the torque delivery, and I’m here to tell you that the M3 Competition has the most precise steering that I’ve felt in a long time. It’s an electric power steering system, and even though there isn’t a lot of feedback, it still transmits exactly what you need to feel. Hands down, the BMW M3 Competition has one of the best steering systems in the segment, but it’s not just the steering that makes it stand out, it’s the chassis too.

2022 BMW M3 Competition - Driving Impressions Interior
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First, I should point out that the M3 Competition doesn’t drive like your grandma’s Lincoln, so don’t expect the smoothest ride in the world. It’s not uncomfortable by any means, but there’s no doubt that this is a sports car at its core. The damping is precise, body roll is minimal even at higher speeds in tight bends, and understeer is practically nonexistent if you’re not on track at excessively high speeds. The car responds immediately and precisely to all steering inputs in a way most cars won’t. It’s deeply satisfying and maybe even a bit surprising at first. If you’re taking the M3 Comp out for your first round of spirited driving, warm up to it first because the driving dynamics will surprise you.

2022 BMW M3 Competition dimensions
Length 189.1 in.
Overall Width with Mirrors 81.4 in.
Overall Width without Mirrors 74.3 in.
Height 56.4 in.
Front head room 40.6 in.
Front leg room 41.6 in.
Front shoulder room 56.0 in.
Rear head room 37.8 in.
Rear leg room 35.6 in.
Rear shoulder room 54.6 in.
Curb weight 3,890 lbs.

All of this said, don’t put too much faith in the xDrive AWD system. It’s not that it doesn’t work well, but I quickly learned that the M3 Competition has a way of reminding you that it’s a performance car. The xDrive system is rear-biased and the rear tires will break loose before the fronts, especially without all the nannies turned on. That’s not to say that the M3 isn’t a well-composed machine. In fact, my time at the track with it taught me just how composed it really is. I was downright impressed by the body control system, the impressive traction at higher speeds, and even the brakes, the latter of which resist fading very well.

2022 BMW M3 Competition - Driving Impressions Exterior
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All of this said, I made it a point to daily drive the M3 Competition, and it wasn’t the easiest task in the world. The M3’s powertrain doesn’t hold anything back….ever. It’s always itching to go, and it’s most certainly one of those cars that is always going much faster than you think it is. I felt the need to constantly look at the speedo for the first 4 days of driving. After that period, I started to get used to it, but I caught myself exceeding city limits a few times. The M3 is daily drivable as long as you don’t want something that’s very comfortable, don’t mind a constantly engaging drive, and don’t mind the attention you’ll get at the store.

The technology is on point, the ride is worthy of the name sports car, and to be quite honest, the 3.0-second sprint to 60 mph will give you the feeling that you’re in a supercar with a BMW badge. If you’re a seasoned driver, the M3 is probably suitable for you, but it’s certainly not the car I’d recommend for someone just stepping into high-performance vehicles or for someone who prioritizes comfort over everything else. It is an amazing vehicle, of that there’s no doubt, but the M3 Competition certainly isn’t for everybody. That’s okay, though, because it’s not meant to be. With a starting price of $77,100 as of the time of this writing, it’s certainly one of the most fun cars this side of $100,000 that you can buy.

2022 BMW M3 Competition specifications
Engine twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six
Horsepower 503 HP @ 6,250 RPM
Torque 479 LB-FT @ 2,750 – 5,500 RPM
0-60 mph 3.0 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph (180 mph)
Transmission ZF eight-speed auto
Philippe Daix
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read full bio
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