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The BMW G80 M3 Buyer’s Guide

What's life like with a BMW G80 M3? I review every step of the purchase process, daily driving it, reliability and more.

BMW G80 M3

Aside from perhaps the BMW engineers who designed the car, few have more experience with the BMW G80 M3 than yours truly. From seeing the pre-production example and being one of the first to drive it, to getting some track time and finally ordering my own. Now, with production delays, tons of options to sort through and inventory shortages, I’m here to help you cut through the misinformation.

From Individual colors, to how long it’ll take to build, even what baby seat I use. There are also a few tricks I’ve learned from working with BMW over the years that I’ll share. So if you’re thinking of getting a 2022 BMW M3, here’s your guide.

But if you’re on the fence, I’ll try to help with a few Q&As first…

Should you wait for the LCI?

The LCI, or Life Cycle Impulse in BMW-speak, means that the model has gone half-way through its cycle and receives a minor update. This could mean new tail lights, interior changes, package edits, new wheels and sometimes an updated grill or headlights. In the M3’s case, historically it will adapt the tail lights of the regular 3 Series, along with interior changes, but the front end remains unique.

The question of “should you wait” is somewhat complex, because the LCI changes are due before the end of 2022. By far the biggest anticipated change is inside, where a single large digital dash takes over for the separate iDrive and dashboard screens in the current model. This is taken from the i4, and it will move most of the physical buttons into the screen itself, including climate control.

The LCI M3 could very well get the single display from the new iX.
G80 M3 interior
The dual screens might be going away.

I’m personally not a fan. I like tactile buttons at speed, it makes it easier to change without looking down, but this is the way of the future.

There’s also a chance that the manual transmission won’t be renewed, but that’s simply an educated guess at this point.

G80 M3 taillights
The G20’s tail lights are soon to be refreshed, and will find their way onto the M3.

What about the M3 CS?

Much of what is out there currently is rumors, but it’s a safe bet that the M3 CS will have:

  • All-wheel Drive
  • Unique carbon fiber bucket seats
  • Unique M headlights, akin to the M5 CS
  • LCI changes from the rest of the M3 lineup
  • A price around $100,000

If the M3 CS is as good as the M5 CS, then it might be worth the wait. But the main issue with the top-level M3 remains, dating back to the days of the E92. It’s a car based on a 3 Series, which starts at around $42k. That’s quite a jump, no matter how many parts are changed.

Where to start with your BMW G80 M3

G80 M3
BMW will sometimes change options from year to year, like stand alone laser lights for the 2022 model year.

If you’re reading this, you’ve no doubt built your own M3 on BMWUSA’s website, and if not, you’ll want to do that (but not yet).

The website doesn’t always make it easy. Selecting one option might take away another without explanation. What you really want is a POG, or Product Ordering Guide, and price guide. I’ve added the 2022 Model Year (MY) ones here, but know that they can often change without warning. Bimmerpost usually has the latest and greatest.

POGs will list packages, colors, wheel styles, and everything you can get in the BMW M3. The price guide is simple, it tells you the price of each option.

2022 M3 Ordering Guide

2022 M3 Price Guide

BMW 825M wheels
I prefer the look of the 825M wheels, with a polished face.
BMW 826M wheels
826M Competition wheels are also available in two finishes. Beware, they are not easy to clean.

BMW M3 trim levels

The M3 is available in Base, Competition, and Competition xDrive trims. The stick is only available on the base model, which has 30 less horsepower and 73 less lb-ft of torque. I don’t miss the extra power, but if you think you might, my choice would be the xDrive model, which has rave reviews. While I can’t confirm that this will be the last M3 with a manual transmission, I believe it in my heart of hearts, so choose wisely.

Otherwise, the trim levels are almost identical in terms of what’s available. While many BMWs have been affected by the chip shortage, the M3 has been somewhat protected. Still, make sure your car will have a touchscreen and power lumbar support for both seats, as availability has been limited. Here’s how I optioned mine.

Currently, BMW has both Michelin Pilot Sport 4 and Pirelli tires going on M3s, and it’s simply the luck of the draw as to what you get. BMW will alternate supplies at the factory to ensure that both tire makers are able to fulfill orders. You want the Michelins if you can get them. It’s one of the best sport tires currently on the market.

G80 M3 badge
Base cars get chrome badges.
G80 M3 exhaust
If you don’t spec Extended Shadowline Trim, you’ll get an M3 with chrome exhaust tips.
G80 M3 Competition badge
Opt for the Competition, and you’ll get a black badge.
BMW M3 M button
Features like M Mode are standard, a nice touch.

BMW M3 options

Consider a few things when optioning the car.

  • The Parking Assistance package will add camera lenses to the front and side (mirrors) of the car. Some prefer a cleaner shape without it.
  • While 2021 models had laser lights in the Executive package, for 2022, it’s a stand alone option.
  • M Shadowline lights are now available on both the base headlights and upgrades Laser Lights. They add black trim inside the headlight unit.
  • Extended Shadowline Trim used to be standard, and you could remove it for no cost. Now, it’s still no cost, but you must add it to the build. It adds a black spoiler, black exhaust tips, and black mirrors.
  • Wireless charging is back – it was not available for a bit.
  • The Driving Assistance Pro Package will add a black radar unit onto the left side grill, making the car look a bit odd and unbalanced. This is only available on Competition models.
  • The Carbon Exterior Package is worth it, as those pieces alone are usually more than the $4,700 price of the package. Note that it will replace the honeycomb mesh on the front intakes, and replace them with carbon fiber inserts for a cleaner look.
  • Finally, the carbon ceramic brakes are beautiful and long-lasting, but the rear brake calipers on the M3 are the same, regardless of spec. That means single piston, and it’s shared across several BMW models (like my X3 M40i).
  • Opting for carbon fiber bucket seats will not allow you to option ventilated seats.
The radar unit is clearly visible on the front end here.
At the rear, the Competition models get black badges and black exhaust tips.
The rear brakes are always the same, just painted gold for ceramic-equipped cars.
BMW M3 standard seats
The standard seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever been in.
BMW M3 carbon fiber bucket seats
The carbon buckets are thinly padded but look spectacular. The hump on the lower cushion houses a latch for a 5-point belt.
M3 spoiler
Skipping Extended Shadowline means a body color spoiler.
M3 badge
For BMW M’s 50th anniversary, you can spec a special BMW badge on all M cars.

BMW M3 Base, M3 Competition, or All-Wheel Drive M3?

A car is designed to have certain features, which is why you see blank buttons on the dash board when you don’t order everything on a car. I’ll get back to this point.

It’s easiest to sum up the differences this way:

Get the M3 Base if:

  • You must have stick.
  • You want the cheapest M3 possible.
  • You’re ok with less turbo boost, which produces 473 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque vs the Competition’s 503 and 479 lb-ft of torque. You probably won’t miss it.

The M3 Competition if:

  • You want the best M340i that BMW makes.
  • You simply want an automatic transmission (no judgement here).
  • The M Stripes on the seat belts are a must-have. I think they are pretty cool.

Or the M3 Competition with All-Wheel Drive if:

  • You want a smaller, lighter M5
  • Launching from stop lights is your jam.
  • You want the best G80 M3 they make.

It’s clear once you drive all three versions that the G80 was designed to work best with BMW’s M xDrive. There is certainly no wrong answer here, but if you want to experience the car at its best, it needs the stability of all-wheel drive for launches and pulling out of corners. Understeer isn’t even noticeable, something common on many all-wheel drive cars.

How BMW Individual works

BMW has increased the level of customization available in recent years. More colors are allowed in both normal and “Frozen” coats. On the inside, you can get more unique leather colors, even special stitching.

BMW has three levels of Individual paint. The first, sometimes noted as “Tier 1”, are readily available to order through the dealer. For 2022, the following colors are Tier 1:

  • Tanzanite Blue II Metallic
  • Oxide Grey Metallic
  • Aventurin Red Metallic
  • Frozen Brilliant White Metallic
  • Frozen Portimao Blue Metallic

While normal paint options are $550, these colors are $1,950, and Frozen colors cost $3,600. If you see a “2” next to a color, as in Tanzanite here, that means that BMW had to slightly alter the original formula for the color at the factory. Since it’s not an “exact” match, they add “2” in the name to protect themselves. It’s unlikely you’d notice the difference in color on the car.

Tier 1 Individual colors like Tanzanite Blue Metallic are always available, but at additional cost.

Currently, there are no Tier 1 options for the interior.

Three levels of Individual

If you want to take it up a notch, you can visit BMW’s Individualize website. Here, more colors are available and able to be viewed on the car. Options here are also available without prior approval, and typically cost in the range of $5,000.

Finally, BMW offers a third option, which is paint-to-sample. If you don’t see a color offered in either of the options above, you can ask BMW for permission to paint the car any color you like. It can be an old M color no longer available, or another maker’s color. The catch here is that the color must be approved by BMW, and it’s very possible they will turn you down. The dealer will usually ask you for two backup choices in case the first one doesn’t make it through.

I’m not sure why BMW might approve one color over the other, but the process usually requires the chassis to be pulled off the general assembly line.

Portimao Blue
Portimao Blue
Brooklyn Grey
Brooklyn Grey
Sao Paulo Yellow
Sao Paulo Yellow
Isle of Man Green
Isle of Man Green
Toronto Red
Toronto Red
Alpine White
Alpine White
Dravit Grey

Ordering your BMW G80 M3

Once you’ve selected your options, head to the dealer to place your order. You should receive a build code from the website when you build your own online which you can share. You can also select your options at the desk with the salesperson.

This is not a car-buying blog site, but use common sense when negotiating price. It’s rare to receive a large percentage off an M3 because of the demand. However, if a dealer is marking your car up, I might look somewhere else.

Once the deal is complete, you’ll most likely go on a waiting list, where you’ll remain for around 12 weeks. Again, it’s hard to give a specific time frame, but know that wait times are longer than usual. What you’re waiting for is an allocation number, which means the factory has received your order and can make room in the production schedule. Without an allocation number, you have no official order with BMW.

Some dealers are awesome to work with. Some will sell your allocation if offered more money. I’ve even heard of dealerships selling a car that was ordered and actually delivered to the dealer. Remember that you have options, and it’s usually best to shop around.

Tracking your BMW G80 M3

Once you have your number, you can head over to the “My Garage” on BMWUSA and track your car’s progress. I’ve detailed that process here. M3s and M4s are built in different factories, and times may differ between the two.

Delivery can happen at your dealer, or at the BMW Performance Center as a no-cost option (aside form the flight down there). This is not a part of the M Driver’s Package, which raises the top speed of your M3 and provides a One-Day class at the Performance Center. If you don’t need the top speed increased, I’d skip that option and simply do a Two-Day M School, where you’ll learn a lot more.

Also provided is a New Owner’s Track Drive after purchase. You can head to either South Carolina or California and have some track time and off-roading for free (again, gotta pay to fly down).

Using the BMW G80 M3 as a family car

BMW M3 child seat
The G80 has plenty of room in the back for kids.

Not everyone will, but this is a sedan after all, so how does the M3 hold up as a family car? Very well!

There’s excellent cargo room in the trunk. While I had to fold the seats down in my F30 335 for my roadie camera case, the G80 can take it all in the trunk.

I have a 5 year old daughter, and have a Chicco booster seat currently installed in the back seat. It fits nicely, but the soft Merino leather does tend to indent more than I like. However, don’t put anything under the seat as a barrier, as it could cause the booster to slide around in an accident. The best you can do is to take the seat out when not in use, and clean and condition the leather often. I always prefer AMMO Lather and Mousse.

Another issue with carbon bucket seats might be with a child in the back. If you’re a parent, you might notice they like to kick the front seat. Adding a layer of Paint Protection film on the seat backs would be a must if you find yourself in this situation.

I’ve averaged 19.8 MPG with the car, with a good mix of highway and local driving. That’s identical to what I achieved with my old E92. While I did baby that car a bit more (not really), I find it interesting that this new turbo polar bear friendly engine doesn’t offer that much of an improvement in real-world driving.

G80 M3 trunk
Trunk space is enlarged from the F80. I can fit my camera gear without folding down the rear seat.
G80 M3 seats
Consider the back of the seats with kids. Carbon fiber buckets should be protected with film.

Can you daily a BMW M3?

You can! It’s as comfortable and capable as a regular 3 Series. The ride isn’t harsh in comfort mode (it is in SPORT), and it’s not loud unless you’re in full SPORT+ mode.

You will need a set of winter wheels and tires if you’re in a cold climate.

BMW gives you free oil changes for the first three years or 36,000 miles, along with a 4-year, 50,000 mile warranty. The dealer might try to offer you additional coverage, but you can always purchase that later if you decide to keep the car. One thing I did purchase was wheel and tire protection. Should I get a flat or damage a rim, they will tow me to the closest BMW dealer and repair the wheel and tire for free. If they can’t, I get a new wheel and tire. Considering the cost of the warranty in relation to the wheel and tire, I feel it’s good to have just in case.

As to the reliability of the G80, it’s still too new to know. There have been a few stop sales for brake and camera issues, but no recalls. But we’re talking BMW M car, so it’s really just a matter of time and miles.

Washing the car is not too difficult, but the big grill in front can catch things behind it. A step-by-step guide is here.

G80 M3 steering wheel
Merino leather is soft and can easily wear, so I use driving gloves.
I’m a member of the BMW CCA, but with people now able to share knowledge and car shows on their own, it might be superfluous.
G80 M3
I purposely left the car somewhat dirty to show that it’s possible to drive it daily, even in winter.

What mods are available for the G80 M3?

The car is still relatively new, but there are a few options. Things I think the car really needs include:

  • An exhaust (I do prefer the look of the M Performance one)
  • Spacers (check the front wheels, and you’ll see just how far in they are tucked.)
  • Lowering springs (again, check the gap in the front)
  • An air intake (I did the BMC drop-in)

Beyond that, it’s your personal taste. Carbon fiber, wheels, even modifications to the front-end are all available.

M3 shark fin
You’ll lose reception for the satellite radio, but carbon fiber pieces are available for many parts of the car, including the shark fin.
G80 M3 wheel
Spacers might be needed to help push the wheels out to the corners more.

Other cars to consider

If a stick shift is not something you want or need, there are other options.

You can also look for a Mercedes C63 or Audi RS5, but those cars offer a less visceral experience compared to an M3.

If you decide to go with a G80, know that you’ll be getting one of the best modern BMWs made. I love mine.

G80 M3
One of the best cars made today.

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