On Competing Terms | BMW M3 Competition Sedan

BY Burnpavement

With the BMW M3 Competition Package, this is possibly BMW's modern iteration of the CSL.

Photos: Low Fai Ming

Back in the 90s, purists complained about BMW's decision to add an extra pair of passenger doors to the rear of the E36 M3 as well as an extra two cylinders to create a three litre inline-six engine configuration, claiming that BMW has sold out against their very own ethos of the original M3 racing concept. Once again, BMW has irked the purists with their decision to tweak the formula ala Noah and the Ark by adding another pair in the form of two extra cylinders, making the E90 M3 a V8 powered car. And if the V8 is not enough, the sedan variant is introduced once again, with the convertible format being thrown into the mix as well. To those who love BMW's M cars however, the M3 regardless of engine size or body shell, remains the leader of the pack, the bench mark by which all the other performance sedans are judged upon.


The test car that we have, happens to be the exact antithesis that the purists loathe. But just in case you're one of those touchy purists who is about to fly into a rage and smash your fist into your computer screen as you read this review, let me just tell you more about this car's saving grace. This pristine white E90 M3 is not just another one of those entry level M3s, but a car equipped with BMW's Competition Package option, which is a set of performance oriented enhancements to quench the enthusiast's yearning for the CSL to make its return. CSL by the way stands for Coupe, Sport, Lightweight, the very three alphabets that represent the purest driver and most track oriented cars BMW has to offer. And with the Competition Package, this E90 M3 is the closest one can get to a CSL, save the M3 GTS due to its price point in comparison.

Fitted with M GmbH's Competition Package, the E90 M3 sedan's chassis is further enhanced with a 10 mm lower suspension installed and kitted with the E46 M3 CSL inspired 19 inch wheels with greater offset for a wider track. With the lower centre of gravity and the combination of a remapped EDC (Electronic Damper Control), special M mode for the DSC system and the already dynamic handling of the standard car, this M3 sedan is possibly one of the best handling cars ever made by the German manufacturer. Nothing has been done to the four litre V8 however, and thus output remains at 420 horses with 400 Nm worth of torque, making the car go from nought to 100 in 4.6 seconds.

Through the years, the BMW M3 has always been highly regarded as an engaging and driver oriented car in the realm of high performance and the E90 M3 sedan is no different. Accelerate at steady throttle on the expressway, the car starts to come alive with that crisp raspy engine note to accompany your right foot's twitch on the accelerator and a completely addictive high strung V8 roar. When the RPM needle begins to make its ascent to 'Redhill' with its sprightly gear changes from the seven-speed M dual-clutch transmission (DCT), one can feel the tyres dig into the tarmac, with the car well poised to gun itself down that long straight. On the bends, the car's body control lithely takes the corners with aplomb, the steering dutifully obeying the inputs directed from the driver with excellent feedback and accuracy. Coupled with the E90 M3 Competition's revised EDC settings and lowered suspension, the car offers tons of grip, just like a gecko's setae on a glass panel. And, with the right foot easing off, the car reverts to its original docile state, which is a good daily runabout, a great Jekyll and Hyde combination for a car like this.

As for the interior, the M3 Competition sedan is pretty much similar to the standard BMW 3 Series, with the same amount of space and practicality for five adults. Rear room is impressive, with the M3 sport seats being not much of an intrusion for the rear passengers which gives this car great practicality. However there are still some minute details that separate the 'M'en from the boys such as the M style three-spoke steering with the stitching in the M colours, supportive sports seats, M logo on the tachometer and the M DCT gear lever. The carbon fibre trim on the dashboard also adds that much needed motor sports flavour to the overall ambience of the car's interior.

Not many cars can lay claim to be the creme de la creme of performance sedans, and the BMW M3 Competition fits the bill nicely. Combining the performance of a super car and in this case with the practicality of a sedan, the E90 M3 Competition with its Jekyll and Hyde persona of being a mild daily runabout that can be transformed into a tarmac tearing beast that is comfortable, steers brilliantly, goes fast and look good at the same time is indeed a car worth considering amongst the slew of high performance V8s in our market.