Coffee table book, available now

Related Stories

10 things learned from my long-term G80 M3 review

This long-term G80 M3 review covers two years of ownership with ten things I've learned about the car and the community.


Never miss a new car review!

September marks two years with my car, and so this would seem to be my first long-term G80 M3 review. It’s gone through quote a growth process, and to celebrate, I gathered a few friends in Brooklyn to commemorate the platform.

From advice to observations, here’s five things I’ve learned.

1. The G80 M3 is the best all-around car ever produced

By now, you must know that a grille is required.

No, I don’t mean it’s the best M3, or even the most fun-to-drive car ever. It’s not even close to the latter.

But what it does do is make an excellent way to transport yourself in speed and comfort.

Would you like to run 9s in the quarter-mile? It can do that, reliably, without much effort. Take it to HPDE events? It’s heavy, sure, but it’ll pull over a G on the skidpad and offers the same ease at the limit with which other M3s are known for.

Since the G80 just about the size of a 5 Series, there’s plenty of room for a family, and it’s never unruly. Even lowered, the car is very comfortable. And it’s the only car on the market to offer such a variety of drivetrain combinations: stick, rear, or all-wheel drive. Hell, it even gets decent gas mileage.

2. It’s the last M3 that’s affordable

A São Paulo yellow interior matches these brakes.

Even now, well-equipped examples are pushing the limits of sanity. An M3 stops making sense at $100,000. After that, especially now that the car is so big, I start to look toward the M5, or even beyond the brand.

Over the past two years, BMW M has raised the base price of the car from $69K and change to $76,000. Yes, really. And remember that’s with 18-inch wheels, Alpine White and no laser lights. New cars have lots of things old ones don’t, so I’m fine with this car costing so much more than even an E90 used to. And paying to play has always been an M credo. But at what point do I look over at a very similar M2 in the showroom and think “Do I like you?”

3. The M3 community has changed

All for one, none for all.

It’s younger than ever, and in a way less helpful than ever.

Bimmerpost is a wasteland of derogatory comments on your taste in cars (used to be for actual technical help). Car clubs charge for driving on public roads together. The shows themselves aren’t always good.

Part of owning an M3 is the sense of community and fun that’s associated with owning the marquee. But there are still a lot of good people involved with the brand, like everyone you see here, so all is not lost.

And if you’re not following M3List on social media, I suggest checking out this recent post (there are many more like it) with 20 (!) crashed G80s. I’m sure not all are the fault of careless driving, but I’ve see a lot of bad things in person over the years. All these wrecks aren’t because grandma changed lanes on you too early.

No respect for speed? Maybe.

4. You don’t need the LCI

Individual colors are rampant.

People will ask me this because my lease is coming due, and the short answer is no, I’m going to keep mine.

I don’t like the single dash, nor the new non-laser headlights. While more power is rumored to be on the way, I highly doubt they will touch the base stick version. I’d still get a blue one.

That said, if you are in the market, an LCI one is better than the alternative, which is…

5. The G80 M3 is the last M3 BMW will build

This could be the end of the ICE-powered M3.

Aww, don’t be sad. Well, maybe a little. But yes, this is it. The end of the line. 40 years of M3, and it ends right here.

Oh sure, BMW will continue to slap the M3 name on the best 3 Series they make. But it’ll be a hybrid. Or electric.

The G80 is definitely isolated from the factory, but with the personal touch owners put on, they are just as loud and (almost) as raw as the F80 before it. The stick helps too. Point is, you have the option to make it sound and feel like an M3 should.

A new one? You won’t be able to get downpipes, or paint your engine cover. I hate to sound like an old man, so I won’t. If electric cars are better for the planet, I’ll happily adopt one. But they aren’t.

6. New BMWs (and G80 M3s) are reliable cars

It’s been a good M3 for everyone.

Problems I’ve had: z-e-r-o. In fact, even with all the G8X owners I know, almost none have had any issues whatsoever.

The cars are still young, and we do drive them hard, but so far so good. It’s common to make fun of German reliability, but combined with my old and new G X3, the brand has been flawless.

Still, TySpeed is just a phone call away…

7. But they aren’t perfect

Cup. Holders.

The brakes squeal constantly. The cooled seats don’t really cool you (although it’s better than nothing). Bluetooth connectivity works 95% of the time, but the last 5% is when you really need it. I hated the car locking and unlocking constantly in my garage, so I turned off the proximity key.

The cup holders. Why? I just want to drink my coffee and shift, but apparently this is verboten. Perhaps the worst part of the entire ownership experience.

8. I regret nothing (almost)

Don’t settle – spec the car how you want.

The parking package might have been nice. Extended leather on the doors and dash are pretty, but I didn’t like the orange lower dash. New M3s do not get leather on the door cards, so extended might be a must-have now.

I don’t miss the heated steering wheel or HUD (which is on the X3 and I never liked), nor is missing the power tailgate feature making me weep at night.

I couldn’t do the carbon buckets, but the M Performance seat backs help make up the difference. Save yourself the money and go aftermarket for the carbon fiber on the outside – looks the same as what BMW offers from the factory to me.

9. Favorite mods, and the M tax

Modding them is half the fun.

This M3 – every M3 – needs an exhaust. I love the AWE track system, and I’m glad it was the first thing I changed out. A close second would be the spoiler, and the M Performance suspension, which gives the car the handling it deserved from the factory.

But I will also admit that paying the “M tax” stinks – everything is marked up for no reason. Nearly $800 from for an Alcantara shifter and boot? $6,000 for spun-cast wheels? Please. On the other hand, NW CarbonHaus has been a Godsend, along with a warehouse in Germany called Baum. BMW parts in Germany are much cheaper, even with paying a VAT tax.

10. The M3 is still my favorite car

I think the car came out pretty nicely.

I’ll end this article by repeating myself. I’ve driven so many cars over the past two years, and each time I get in the M3, it’s a palette cleanser. It just does everything well, and it’s the perfect base from which to compare.

Porches have better steering, better shifting, better handling. Electric cars are faster. Mercedes are a lot nicer inside. Jaguars look better.

But BMW continues to get the soul right. It’s there, if you dig for it. It’ll always be impossible to build a car that does everything right.

This M3 will comfort you, flatter your driving skills, even keep up with those electric cars in AWD form. So in this long-term G80 M3 review, I will tell you that this is one of the best cars BMW has ever made.

Too bad it’ll be the last.

G8X M3 and M4 Gallery

G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4 G8X-M3-M4

Want your car reviewed?

If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email! 

Support the cause

Commissions may be received for product links on this site. Help out if you can.

I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

6 thoughts on “10 things learned from my long-term G80 M3 review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *