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2011 BMW M3

Overview
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2011 BMW M3 Review

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Atop a platform that essentially defines "sport sedan," BMW takes all that is good in its road-going 3 Series and asks the question: Why should racecars be confined to racetracks? And with the extensive mods made to the 3 Series Coupe, Convertible and (once again) Sedan to create the "M" derivatives of same, they needn't be. Out goes the in-line six - itself capable of 320 horsepower - and in goes one of the world's most delicious V8s. Boasting 414 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque and a $1,300 gas guzzler tax, today's M3 builds on a quarter century of high performance history and - once again - delivers the "shizzle" (German exclamation of uncertain origin) to its own, hyper performance category.

You'll Like This Car If...

Any iteration of the M3 is - at least in today's automotive spectrum - truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. With performance that borders on the supercar descriptive, in a subtle color - and to the vast majority of the population - the M3 isn't all that distinguishable from the 328. And if you don't possess a law degree - or a close relative with a law degree - not gaining undue attention while going fast is an extremely good strategy.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If subtle isn't exactly your thing, any number of alternatives competitive with the M3's price point ($60,000) would most certainly attract more attention. The Cayman comes to mind, as does Cadillac's CTS-V, Nissan's GT-R and the Lexus IS-F. All are worth a test drive, but will ultimately not deliver the M3's carefully constructed balance of performance, quality and already-iconic stature.

What's Significant About This Car?

New standard features include Auto Stop Start, automatically stopping the engine when the transmission is placed in neutral and the clutch is released. The engine starts immediately upon depression of the clutch. Manual sport seats are available on the coupe and sedan, saving weight and simplifying long-term maintenance. Option packages - Premium, Cold Weather and Convenience - are remixed.

Driving the M3

Driving Impressions There are few things capable of carrying a driver and three passengers which will deliver the unfiltered fun of BMW's M3. Beginning with one of the best production platforms in...

the business, BMW's M team adds to or massages virtually every area of the drivetrain, suspension and structure. Steering is precise, and big brakes provide fade-free usage at any speed, and for virtually any period of repeated stopping. For those preferring we summarize numerically: 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 155.

Competition Package
For $2,500 (on a BMW option sheet, little more than chump change) you can imbue your M Coupe or Sedan with all of the goodness Munich ever intended. It is wider wheels, lowered suspension and enhanced poise added to a platform that is already on the cusp of an automotive nirvana. Passengers should wear earmuffs and blindfolds.

Performance Center Delivery
Show up in Greenville, South Carolina, receive track instruction in a similarly-spec'd M3, and head home in your new BMW boasting a newfound combination of pride and passion. BMW isn't the first to combine track instruction with delivery, but they're one of the few marques making it so accessible. Greenville, to be sure, isn't the Nurburgring, but is so much more accessible to an Interstate.

2011 BMW M3 Details
Interior

Regardless of how you decorate it (and there are numerous choices in leather and trim), the M3 driver's cabin is just that - a place for a pilot and (up to) three passengers. Both coupe and convertible are rated by the EPA as subcompacts, and there's a reason for that: Those with big luggage or big families need not apply. The M3 is arguably BMW's most driver-oriented vehicle (check out the M Drive button now mounted on the steering wheel...), and isn't for the poseur - although we're sure that class makes up an increasing number of buyers. Front seats are ultra-supportive, which speaks well to the target demographic; young, affluent and hyper-active. Convertibles are often relegated to recreational duty on weekends, with the top - depending on regional climates - rarely raised, while the M3 Sedan provides a sweet spot in family mobility.

Exterior

BMW's M3 is, in a word, planted, sitting low and almost rakish on its four large alloys. The front fender gills remain, as do - in the rear - the prominent exhaust outlets. The front fascia is more aggressive - and its air intake more expansive - than the standard 3 Series, and the hood is domed, but general proportions mimic those of its more attainable brethren. We especially like its side skirts, which add immeasurably to its profile.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

In today's M3 everything in or on the car is notable. We'd point to BMW's almost compulsive effort to reduce weight, beginning with lightweight components sprinkled throughout the unit body and suspension, and topped with a carbon-fiber-reinforced roof. It's also worth noting that this is the M3's first V8; the model started with a high-revving 2.3 liter four (in 1988 for North America), and was succeeded by two different in-line sixes. Transmitting the V8's prodigious power to the rear wheels is a 6-speed manual transmission, a (regrettably) rare spec even on performance coupes, and almost impossible to find on most competitive (as if...) 4-door sedans.

Optional Equipment

With the beginning of the 2011 model year, the M3 Coupe and Sedan are now available with a Competition Package. For $2,500 the buyer receives a 10mm lower suspension and 19-inch wheels (with greater offset for a widened track). In combination with reprogrammed electronic damping control and DSC systems, BMW claims this to be the "best handling" M-Series ever built. For the more visual, Mineral White Metallic has been made available on the M3 Coupe and Convertible.

Under the Hood

As noted, this is BMW's first foray with V8 power in the M3. Don't, however, be alarmed; this isn't Dodge's Challenger. The BMW edict of lightness and balance remain intact. The light-alloy 32-valve DOHC V8 is compact, and delivers 414 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque with the fluidity of an electric drivetrain. Despite upping the piston count by a third and providing 25 percent more displacement, the V8 weighs seven percent less than its in-line six predecessor. Mated to either the standard manual 6-speed or available 7-speed double-clutch gearbox, there is absolutely no interruption in the flow of power, all the way to the V8's 8,400 rpm redline. And with the optional double clutch with Drive Logic, eleven different shift programs - five automatic and six manual - are designed to suit the needs of individual drivers and any driving situation.

4.0-liter V8
414 horsepower @ 8300 rpm
295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (sedan and coupe, convertible with automatic), 13/20 (convertible, manual)

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2011 BMW M3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 65 Ratings for the 2008 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    8.8/10
    Performance
    9.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    9.3/10

Stunning car to drive $ beautiful to look at!

By on Thursday, September 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Beautiful design, exceptional performance"

Cons: "Gas Guzzler, Expensive maintenance"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is the 3rd BMW M series that I have owned. It is an amazing automobile in every way. The 4 door sedan design is both graceful and muscular yet very functional. The engine hums like a symphony and is very responsive. My car is a 6 speed manual which I totally love as it seems so integrated to the cars power and handling. It feels very solid and handling is very tight... and it is very fast! I keep it under control but it is so happy at higher speeds. Being semi retired and living in a car dependent area does pose a problem: It is a gas guzzler as I average 16 mpg. Therefore, I cut back on driving so I can afford gas This is not good as I usually drive at least 20 miles to reach various locations. My choices are to sell it and buy a more fuel efficient BMW (328i) or buy a used fuel efficient daly driver. The decision is very difficult as I love my Silverstone/red leather M3 and it's hard to let go!"

9 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Best all around car availabile

By on Tuesday, May 06, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "driving dynamics"

Cons: "gas mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car uniquely balances comfort, convenience and performance - with the latter setting the performance standard for the segment. For enthusiasts who live by manual transmissions (like I was), the dual clutch transmission is just as fun and feeds your performance appetite. Only gripe is the gas mileage, but it is to be expected in such a performance oriented machine."

11 people out of 20 found this review helpful

A jack of all trades

By on Saturday, April 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I was able to buy this car new at about $1,000 below invoice. I'd driven this and a 911 during a track day event and no way in is a 911 worth twice the money. It's been reliable so far, and I do extra out of pocket oil changes every 7500 miles or so, since the dealer intervals are spaced too far apart (since BMW is paying for them for 4 years/50k miles). The only issue is that the interior squeaks. This is a known issue with the door seals. The remedy is a tape strip, but the strip is grey and it would look stupid in the doorwells of a blue car. A blast to drive. Boring and docile at low rpms. Rev it past 5000 rpm, keep it up there, and the thing drives like a monster."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Happy camper

By on Saturday, March 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Speed handling comfort"

Cons: "Gas mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car is an absolute blast to drive!Explosive acceleration, great handling. And rather comfortable for long haul trips. This car makes an average driver good, a good driver great."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

A great family coupe

By on Saturday, February 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,260

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Outstanding car, handles superbly in all situation"

Cons: "Expensive and gas guzzler"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"Love the M3, have the 2013 Frozen Blue Edition, MDCT transmission, carbon fiber accents, Novello leather,,all options. The last of the naturally aspirated V-8s. On the autobahn got the M3 to 175mph and the Nurburgring handling was exceptional. Driving normally 80mph, returned 24.5 mpg, not bad for a V-8, but do wish 7th gear was more tuned to road (lower rpm, better mileage), not too impressed with the MDCT as I came from a 911 Porsche PDK (7spd auto) and the mpg @75mph was 30.5 mpg. Overall a great car that could be better!"

2 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Best bmw I ever have had

By on Friday, January 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great fun great handling beautiful, convertible an"

Cons: "Weight"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I've been driving bmw m3's since 1995. This 08 convertible m3 has been the best and most reliable. My only complaint is the extra weight of the convertible. My other ones were hardtops. Almost six years later and I'm still in love with it. I am however interested in the new m4 or a 911 carrera s. If I could I would keep it and buy the new car as well. The burble of that v8 with a six speed manual is intoxicating."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?