News & Reviews
Last 7 Days
Expand Ad


2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

2009 BMW M3 Sedan First Steer

The bellowing V8 engine is nudging 8400rpm as I click the paddle shift to engage sixth gear and the relentless acceleration continued as the speedo needle nudges 250km/h.

- David Twomey

Then it’s a hard stab on the brakes, drop back two gears to fourth and turn into the flowing Turn One at Phillip Island Race Track – no I haven’t taken up V8 Supercar racing but the beast under my seat sounds and almost feels like it could give some of the local racers a good run for their money.

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

Fact is I’m making the most of BMW’s invitation to try the new M3 Sedan, the first such version of one of the ultimate cars from the Bavarian carmaker, to come to our shores.

The day had begun early with a briefing from BMW executives on the M3 and the differences embodied in the new Sedan version of this iconic BMW sports sedan, then a briefing from the legendary Geoff Brabham, son of the even more legendary Sir Jack, on just how Phillip Island race track could bite you in a car that covers the ground as fast as the M3.

So here I am thundering down Gardner Straight with the bellow of a true high-performance V8 engine providing background music and one of four M3 sedans, three with the dual-clutch seven-speed M transmission and one sporting a six-speed manual, under my backside.

I know, it’s dirty work but somebody has to do it – and hey, Christmas is just around the corner so I’m looking at it as an early gift from Santa!

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

I have to confess to being a devotee of the six-cylinder M3 with the old SMG gearbox, call me perverse, but I just liked the way the whole thing worked and it was always so balanced.

The first, and last time I drove the Coupe version of this new V8-engined M3 I didn’t really warm to it (it was also at Phillip Island race track) but this time I’m really liking the experience.

Maybe it’s the fact that the morning is open go – jump into a car and just lap, like I said – dirty work!

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

Powered by a unique V8, 4.0-litre, 309kW engine, producing 400Nm of torque and revving to a stratospheric 8400rpm red line, the BMW M3 Sedan certainly adds the most practical of bodyshells, complete with five seats and substantial luggage capacity, so even more passengers can enjoy this magnificent, race-bred engine on full song.

BMW has never offered the M3 sedan in Australia before. There was no Sedan in the previous E46 generation model range, and in the E36 generation, only Coupé and Convertible versions of the M3 came to Australia.

Next page…

The arrival of the M3 Sedan, just weeks after the first M3 Convertibles, means BMW high-performance enthusiasts will, for the first time, have access to the full range of M3 models.

The new BMW M3 Sedan is priced from $145,000 plus dealer delivery and statutory charges, for the manual six-speed model.

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

BMW says the M3 Sedan does the 0-to-100km/h sprint in just 4.9 seconds and uses just 12.4-litres of petrol per 100 km on the combined cycle in manual transmission guise.

Equipped with the seven-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic, the M3 Sedan rushes from 0-100 km/h in an even quicker 4.7 seconds and it also manages to use less fuel than the manual transmission car, at 11.9l/100km.

The BMW M3 Sedan rides on special M 18-inch light alloy wheels shod with 245/40 front and 265/40 ZR 18 tyres, although the cars we drove were fitted with optional 19-inch light alloy wheels, running 245/35 front and 265/35 ZR 19 tyres.

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

For the race track use the cars were also fitted with special M racing compound brake pads, virtually fade free despite dozens of race track laps, but very noisy and something you wouldn’t want to consider for everyday use.

Phillip Island is a very familiar track to me but it’s also a track that can bite hard if you get it wrong and so it pays to take your time on the first few laps to get your eye back in to braking points and apexes.

The six-speed manual M3 proved to be an excellent introductory machine, letting me ‘sight’ the track choose my gears and generally find out how the car felt.

Performance is obviously strong, the V8 pulls hard from low down and revving to 8400rpm means it has a great spread of power through, almost to the redline.

The orange to red shift lights that illuminate the rim of the tacho are a nice touch, but in truth on a race track, don’t really work as your hands are almost always in the way and for serious use a set of lights at the top of the instrument shroud would work a lot better because you are sure to want to ring the aural experience out to the last few engine revolutions!

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

Next page…

The brakes on this thing are awesome, as I said at the end of the front straight I was indicating about 250km/h and it was one hard stab on the brake pedal, down two gears and get back on the loud pedal to clip the apex through turn one.

Even more hard braking for the challenging Southern Loop meant the big BMW was working hard but again the car was up to the challenge, feeling balanced and controlled on the throttle as I accelerated out of the corner and up through the gears for the run to the second gear Honda Hairpin.

And so it goes, this really is a five-seat executive express that you can change the brake pads and tyres on and take to the racetrack.

On the road it would be truly awesome, although on our speed limit strangled roads it’s only at the racetrack that you are going to really experience the M3’s true capabilities.

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review
2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

The chassis plays a superb supporting role, grippy, poised and transparent in its responses. Fitted with the optional EDC dampers, you can tailor the M3’s ride and body control depending on the road and how you want to drive.

The middle setting is perfect for taking on a tricky road but it will retain its body control in the soft setting should you want to pamper your passengers. In the hardest setting it really does feel track-stiff, though.

Tweaking the M3 to your needs can take some time. The iDrive not only allows you to determine your preferred default settings for the dampers, steering weighting and engine response but also enables you to choose entirely different settings that are activated when the ‘M’ button on the steering wheel is pressed.

2009 BMW M3 Sedan Review

Switching to the paddle-shift gearbox is quite something, not only do you have seven gears to play with but with the ‘M’ button depressed you enter the realm of race car quick gearshifts and throttle response.

Next page…

I did try a few corners with the stability control off completely but it was just so much sideways that common-sense dictated we return to some form of electronic control, after all at CarAdvice we don’t subscribe to the ‘demolition-derby’ form of car testing used by some other media organisations.

The car feels very quick and despite being 25 kilograms heavier than the Coupe, it doesn’t get the carbon-fibre roof plus the extra structure of a four-door body, it still accelerates with lightening speed.

Essentially the body of the M3 Sedan is the front and rear of the Coupe blended with a four-door bodyshell.

I’ve driven the Mercedes-Benz C63 in some anger around the famous Mount Panorama circuit and more recently the Lexus IS-F on the road and while each do some things better than the M3 Sedan I’d have to say that I’m leaning towards it being the best of the three – we really need to have a full comparison between these cars before finally making that decision.

The ability of the M3 Coupé to tailor the driving experience exactly to the driver’s needs, or the demands of the road or track, is also available in the M3 Sedan. Some of these features are only available on BMW M3 models and not available elsewhere in the market, such as Electronic Damper Control and MDrive.

The BMW M3 Sedan is not only a high-performance sports machine, but comes exceptionally well equipped with luxury features such as Professional Navigation with an 8.8-inch full colour monitor, TV, Voice Recognition, preparation for Bluetooth mobile connection, LOGIC7 HIFI system, Novillo Leather upholstery, powered and heated M Sport seats with memory functions, and backrest width adjustment and lumbar support.

A unique feature of the M3 range, and available for the first time on a BMW Sedan in Australia, is Brake Energy Regeneration, similar to that which will be applied to Formula 1 race cars in the 2009 season.

Brake Energy Regeneration collects energy on overrun or under braking to recharge the vehicle’s battery, allowing the absolute maximum engine power be delivered to acceleration rather than being diverted to power electrical systems.

“The arrival of the BMW M3 Sedan in Australia is a win for drivers who have longed for the practicality of a four-door/five seat sedan that delivers the punch and excitement of the M3 Coupé,” said Tom Noble, General Manager, Marketing, BMW Group Australia.

I’d have to say the M3 is one of the most balanced, well-engineered performance sedans on the Australian market, it will be interesting to see how it fares in a competitive market against its major rivals.

BMW M3 Range

BMW M3 Sedan: $145,000
BMW M3 Coupé $162,901
BMW M3 Convertible: $176,142

  • Ivan

    BMW hit the nail right on the head this time. Giving 4 door practicality without compromise on performance.

    If I had the money, I’d go for this than anything in this price range (C63 AMG, IS-F, GTR, Exige)

  • Alex

    I love this car, but I can see why people think it’s ugly. I think it looks great with it’s M body kit, but I can see why it’s too much for some. I think the problem that Mercedes has always had with the C Class is that it’s always too classy. They don’t seem to be able to design cars that can be transformed from classy and understated to snarling and sporty with the use of a tasteful body kit. I would wait for the next RS4 though before I came out and said this was best in class.

    Ivan, please – although they may be in the same price bracket, you simply cannot compare and M3 to an Exige. The Exige has $300,000 super car performance for this money and actually, if you drove them, you may just change your mind. The Exige is in a different league. It’s addictive and one of the best cars on the planet. The M3s great, but too common.

  • Mikez

    “I think the problem that Mercedes has always had with the C Class is that it’s always too classy. They don’t seem to be able to design cars that can be transformed from classy and understated to snarling and sporty with the use of a tasteful body kit”

    Please dont compare Merc to bmw design. Merc C class was car of the year. BMW is butt ugly these days. Theyve ruined the design that didnt need tweaking to begin with. Dont know what you’re talking about with either.. have you seen the c63! Best designed sport sedan period.

  • Devil666

    Nice article, but some of the sentence structure is poor, and a few spelling and grammar mistakes have slipped past. Also, I feel you have insulted the perfect styling of the E92 coupe saying this E90 M3 sedan “…is the front and rear of the Coupe blended with a four-door bodyshell” as it is not. The rear is typical of all E90 models with revised tail lights, and the insinuation that the coupe looks in anyway similar in the rear is blasphemy. It is much much better :)

  • CB

    Mmm… Drove one of these in the USA (pre-facelift)… awesome car.

    Perhaps one of these with DCT to replace my 335i… but I agree with Devil666 in that my Coupe tail lights are still nicer than the revised E90 tail.

  • Alex

    Car Advice, thank for your little Moderators Note but if you had actually read my comment, you would see that I wrote that that the Exige had the performance of a $300,000 super car for the same sort of money as this car (the BMW M3). I know very well that Lotus make cars that are incredibly cheap for what they are.

    Mikez, what do you mean please don’t compare this to Mercedes design? They are in exactly the same league and therefore, you have to compare their designs. And although still a great looking car, the Mercedes C63 is certainly not the best designed sports sedan period (but I’m not saying this is).
    The fact is that it still does look a bit old man and that is the only age group I see driving it. The M3 however tends to have a much younger client base, same with Audi and Alfa Romeo and that brings me to say that the Alfa Romeo 159 is still better looking than really anything else in this class and that is a pretty widely acknowledged fact. And the Mercedes C Class won Wheels car of the year. Oh, how prestigious! (insert sarcasm). However, the BMW 3 Series won World Car of the Year in 2006. A little bit hard to compare the two. Maybe it’s an age thing. Although it’s terribly rude to ask I’m sure, how old are you Mikez?

  • Wheelnut

    Alex – I don’t think that the moderators have the right to proofread or edit our comments; as we are talking to fellow car enthusiasts with similar interests.. we aren’t talking with or to Car Advice

    If we make a mistake in any of our comments I’m sure one or more of the other bloggers will correct us – However; there are some on this site who find it hard to admit when they are wrong.

    I read your comments and I knew that what you were saying is that the Exige has the performance of a $300K supercar for half the price..NOT that the Exige is a $300k Supercar

  • Wheelnut

    On Topic: I’d pay the extra $20k premium and go for the M3 coupe as its just like Smith’s Crisps “The Original and Still the Best!

    However; you can’t really compare the M3 Sedan [or the new Lexus AS-IF] to the M3 Coupe as the different body styles will have an impact on the cars dynamics performance and handling etc.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Bout time you guys did this .

    My money has always been on the M3 although a four door is not my pic in the range. Sales wise I would think the M3 would outsell the Merc and most certainly the IS-iF! So how much longer do we have to wait Mr Maric for your results on the IS-iF ?

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ alborz

    Sorry Alex, Misread your post. Was simply making sure people were aware the Exige was not a $300,000 car.

  • Bavarian Missile

    So when do BMW have their next track day thats not for all you jernos…………I real road test would be good too!

  • Mikez

    M has much more reputation and history and amg, for one. Sales, demographic, dont really mind about. I was talking about the current models only. Bmw looks have gone downhill, merc very inspiring look, car of the year. Plus amg version looks 10 x better.

    No worries about asking my age Alex, im 24

    regards
    mike

  • Mikez

    Sorry that should read “than amg” not “and”

  • Alan

    Mikez, I think it’s hard to comment and compare the looks of different cars as everyone has their own opinion and preference when it comes to looks. Personally i don’t like the look of the new C-class, the butch squre front doesn’t seem to gel well with the rounder lights at the back, and the satnav cover looks cheap.

    Not saying that a 3-series is pretty either though, the mundane version looks very odd and dull, but this M3 version is much much better. But as pointed out above, the M3 coupe is better looking than the sedan with better looking tail.

    In this class, Alfa 159 is for me the best looking, but i still wouldn’t drive an Italian car for day in day out for reliability concern.

  • Mikez

    Twas he that downgraded C class looks compared to 3 sedan, and we’re comparing c63 with M not base models. I simply had to stand up to defend against the claim that was made for no apparent reason. Bold claim on my part i agree , but needed some ammunition for his blatand attack out of no where, especially when the new C is revitalised and winning awards.

    Anyway, 159 is gorgeous, but i thought we were comparing sport sedan in this performance/price category. And now moving to coupes? ..

    regards
    mike

  • Ivan

    I see your point Alex about the Exige. But that would mean the same for the GTR as well. But some journos still compare the GTR to the M3 because of the similar price range.

    I’ll have to admit that the M3 coupe is much better looking than the sedan. However, if I have to buy an M3 sedan, I know that the 2nd hand resale value and demand would be much worse than the coupe, therefore I would use the M3 sedan as a daily driver and keep it until it dies.
    Then buy the Exige for a real driving experience ;P

  • Marcoz

    Wouldnt pay $5.50 FOR THIS CAR. UGLY BMW CRAP..

  • Bavarian Missile ( . ) ( . )

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Oh god the kids are out of school already and making dumb comments based on their opinions only!

  • Yianni

    What a car!

    Engineering at its finest. The Germans are still one step ahead of the competition.

    The only thing that stood out a little is the 400NM of torque. Did anyone else expect more?

  • CB

    Why all the love for the Alfa 159? That thing is unattractive to say the least. And the interior is hideous. $60K for a FWD vehicle? And the notorious build quality issues. No thanks.

    E39 M5 or E46 330ci for me thanks @ $60K.

  • http://deleted Alex

    But CB, the Alfa Romeo 159 has great build quality and pretty good reliability these days, have you never read a review of one? And all the love for the 159 because it’s beautiful (and that is pretty widely accepted) and it is great to drive despite it being FWD and the AWD ones are even better!

    Mikez, you keep talking as if the 3 Series/M3 isn’t winning awards? I believe it’s won more than the C63.

    Oh Marcoz, go away. You’re must be either 17 or 70.

  • mark

    i dont like it for the simple idea that the normal 3 series that we get he is made in south africa, yes i do relise all m cars are made in germany!

  • CB

    Alex Says:
    December 10th, 2008 at 4:08 pm
    “But CB, the Alfa Romeo 159 has great build quality and pretty good reliability these days, have you never read a review of one? And all the love for the 159 because it’s beautiful (and that is pretty widely accepted) and it is great to drive despite it being FWD and the AWD ones are even better!”

    I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I won’t argue the Brera is one sexy animal though.

  • Boom Box

    As a female, I think that the BMW M3 Sedan is sizzling hot. Once again, BMW has hit the mark with this high performance sports car. Not only does if offer the performance of its fellow Convertible and Coupe line up, it has the practically of 4 doors and 5 seats – unlike the Lexus ISF.

    I think we should all be mindful of using commment spaces for the purpose that they are intended for. Petty remarks aren’t what us car enthusiasts are about…

    Here’s cheers BMW – another great car with a great price – starting at a pretty reasonable $145,000.

  • Wheelnut

    Who are you boom box and where have you been? this is the first time I [and I expect other regulars] have seen you on this site./ it appears as though this is your first visit to CA and tht was your initial comment

    The first part of which was reasonable and accurate as you compared the M3 sedan to a more direct rival in he IS-F

    However; [if this is your firt visit] I don’t think that you are in the position to make a comment telling others to stay on topic and that the comments section should be used for the purpose of which it is intended.

    Given that you don’t really know anyone on here what they are like what cars they do/don’t like or what their knowledge of cars is like.. you don’t know the culture

    This is primarily a site for enthusiasts to talk about cars but its also a place to make friends with similar interests I mean I met my Fiance [Bavarian Missile] on here

    If you continue to visit this site you will see that the majority of us do try to keep things on topic and that there are some of us who have friendly rivalries with other bloggers…its all in good fun – lighten up!

    Remember – you can’t judge a book by its cover.

  • qwerty

    How lame. You met your Fiance on the internet.. on a car news site… wow.

  • qwerty

    Sorry that was inappropriate, but you get my point.

  • FRUGAL_ONE

    QWERTY^^

    Yes, indeed it is.

    Who cares where you meet girl/s, the main thing is just to sleep with them! :-)

    Cheers,

    F-0

  • Bavarian Missile ( . ) ( . )

    Was going to have a go at this but why bother!

  • Devil’s Advocate

    Hmmm, a 4 door M3 plus $10k change to buy other things or a 427 cubic inch, American powered Commodore with lots of plastic and carbon fibre everywhere. Hard decision to make especially considering I don’t have a boat to tow……

  • rod b

    my friend has the 2door m3 which i drove before deciding on the isf, the lexus isf has way more bang for buck for a cheaper retail price, sure the bmw m3 is a great car but the isf wins in looks,power,equipment,finish and straight out horn appeal, the bmw m3 is plain ugly next to it and only a bmw fanatic would buy one instead of a isf! for my money the isf was a easy choice!

  • myc63amg

    Guys just received my C63 amg and i am blown away! Man this machine is a monster! I am not here to compare between the m3 and the c63 amg, both cars a magnificent vehicles without a doubt. I cant get enough driving the car it is so enjoyable….just my two cents worth!

LATEST REVIEWS