Like a fine wine or cheese, the BMW F80 M3 is getting better with age.
Unlike a fine wine or cheese, though, you don’t have to pay a premium to enjoy it – quite the opposite, in fact. The M3, and its M4 two-door twin, has received the ‘Pure’ treatment, first introduced on the previous-generation E92 M3 and has since rolled out across the M5 and M2.
Essentially, BMW Australia deletes a bunch of equipment and slashes the price, in this instance to a faintly ludicrous $129,900 ($139,900 for the M4). Remember this is a car that cost $156,900 when it was introduced in July 2014. The good news continues, as none of the deleted kit is anything you really need; you lose leather upholstery and heated seats, the flash Harman Kardon stereo, adaptive LED headlights and high-beam assist. That’s it.
This is no stripped-out bargain-basement special. Some may baulk at the lack of leather, but the combination leather/cloth seats look and feel great and it’ll otherwise take a trainspotter to notice you’ve bought the ‘cheap’ M3.
Even better is BMW’s decision to retain the Competition Pack for Pure models. The suspension and diff revisions definitely improve the M3’s handling and composure and the Competition’s ride quality penalty can be nullified by sticking with the Pure’s standard 19-inch rims, which to my eyes look much better than the GTS-like 20s anyhow.
Ask for Continental ContiSports rather than Michelin Pilot Super Sports and what you might lose in ultimate racetrack performance you’ll gain in more predictable responses and much-improved wet-weather performance on the road. Thus equipped, the Pure is arguably the sweetest road-going M3 while retaining the super-sharp front end and love of oversteer that makes it such an exhilarating drive.
The Competition tweaks also give the 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six a more sporting voice, something you’ll notice more than the extra (but welcome) 14kW. It’s still not a tuneful noise, but it is aggressive, a serrated growl with lots of burbles once you lift off the throttle and unless your daily driver is a 911 Turbo, it’s difficult to imagine anyone stepping out of an M3 wanting more performance.
In fact, this level of grunt is virtually unheard of at this price point. If this package was the regular M3’s $141,610 it would be impressive – at $130K it’s a steal. It almost gives BMW a problem; it’s tough to imagine anyone forking out extra for a normal M3 when the Pure offers more performance for less, and when you can equip an M4 Pure with carbon brakes and Cup tyres for a total outlay of less than $160K the more exclusive, but less practical CS struggles to justify its premium.
The F80 M3 is in the twilight of its career – a new M3 is expected in 2019 – but BMW’s constant process of refinement (not to mention discounts) has made it tastier than ever.
STAR RATING 4.5/5
Like: Crazy performance for the price
Dislike: Steering still iffy; challenging in slippery conditions
BMW M3 PURE SPECS
Engine: 2979cc inline-6cyl, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Power: 331kW @ 7300rpm
Torque: 550Nm @ 1800rpm
0-100km/h: 4.0sec (claimed)