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The G80 M3 break-in review

It's time for the break-in service on my G80 M3. What are some good and bad points on the car, and did BMW get this M3 right?

G80 M3

As the original owner of an E92, the car only became worth more and more as the years went on. This made me think twice about putting miles on it. Not this time! I’ve already got 1,200 miles on my G80 M3, which means it’s time for the M break-in service, and some good and bad points on the car.

G80 M3
The front has grown on me enough for me to say that it’s a good-looking car. Sorry, not sorry.

What’s an M break-in service?

BMW M cars are engineered with tighter tolerances than standard BMWs, so the engine oil and differential fluid pick up more small metal particles during initial driving. At 1,200 miles, every M car goes in for service to change the oil and diff fluid. This means that I’m now able to enjoy the full red line and performance of the car.

Here are 3 good points, and 3 bad ones.

Good: It’s fast. Very fast.

Well, of course it is. But it’s really how it goes about that speed, which is seamlessly. The stick serves as a way to slow the car down, because without it, it’s as smooth and effortless as an electric car.

Torque is everywhere. Do I miss the 30 horses that come with a Competition? No, I can’t even tell, and I drove a Comp for a long stint.

G80 M3 wheels
I was reluctant to choose a blue available on a 330i, but it looks much different on the aggressive shape of the G80.

Bad: Same old stick

Go back to my E92 review, and you’ll see I called the shift feel “typical BMW” – the G80 feels identical. Longish throws, a vague sense of engagement, and a clutch that’s smooth but catches a bit high for my taste.

It’s also an afterthought in this car. Placing a drink in the cup holder means inhibited shifting, and while Comp models get nice gloss black trim and an M3 badge, stick guys get…nothing. Matte black surround and an iDrive controller that’s a bit awkwardly placed. Also, the stick does not light up at night. Come on guys…

G80 manual
I’m always up early for shoots and car shows, so large coffees are a must. To bad they don’t fit.

Good: It’s a comfortable M3

I drove the car home from the Performance Center, some 700 miles, and it was comfortable throughout the trip. Place the car in comfort mode and aside from some clomps over expansion joints, it’s quiet and peaceful. This car takes the M3 ethos of street and track performance to the extreme, much more so than the F80 ever did.

G80 M3
Public Sevice Announcement: Blue over tan / orange is a classic combination, and you should not be surprised.
G80 carbon trim
This is a must-have option, in my opinion.
G80 M3 badge
There are lots of nice details throughout the cabin.

Bad: The adjustments

Imagine you’ve come to eat at my restaurant, and I’m the chef. Instead of preparing the meal, I bring out all the ingredients and dump them on the table. “Here, you cook.”

That’s what BMW has done with the M3.

To initially set up M1 and M2 takes a bit of time. Is the suspension too soft? Steering too heavy? Throttle too touchy? Hard to know. If you’re wondering, my M1 setup is:

  • Sport Plus throttle
  • Sport Suspension
  • Comfort Steering
  • Sport Brakes

My M2 setting is full red mist – everything in the stiffest setting, along with MDM mode activated.

Now once you set it up, all those adjustments are basically useless. I’ll never touch them. I didn’t in the E92 either, which offered a similar amount of adjustability. While this lets the car adapt to the driver’s wants, I’d rather it just come tuned from the factory the way BMW says. Those brakes in comfort mode are silly guys, come on…

G80 tach
This dash is so busy, and the tach climbs the wrong way.

Finally, the digital gauge cluster is still busy, as in all modern BMWs. But here, in the only car that BMW makes with a Digital Dash and stick, it’s even more silly with a tachometer that swings in the opposite direction of what you’d expect.

G80 M3 badge
I’m very happy with the base car – it’s more speed than you’ll ever need.
Laser lights are excellent at night. A stand-alone option for 2022, it’s another must-have selection.

The Good: The size increase

When you’re driving down the road, the size and weight increase over the F80 is not evident. It feels smaller the faster you drive, like most M cars.

Instead, it allows me to fit my camera gear, my daughter in the back seat, trips to the food store…it’s a usable car. Not that old M3s were tight cars, but I appreciate the “mini-M5” utility.

You take it on a track, and you’ll notice the weight. But if you’re able to use all of this car’s performance on a track, you’re really good.

G80 M3
It’s a much larger M3, but I think it’s better for it. If you want small, go M2.

The Bad: It’s different. Is it better?

No doubt, this is the best M3 ever made. It does everything old ones did, just better, or more.

BMW really does make an effort here. The exhaust burbles when you let off the throttle, but not an obnoxious amount. A 7,200 RPM redline is still up there for a turbocharged car – not too far off the S65 V-8. Some steering feel has returned. The car is planted in any corner. It inspires confidence.

But it’s so fast, and so capable, it’s like using Thor’s hammer every time you need to hang a picture. You might ask it to play nice on a back road, where you won’t go above 45 mph. It’s bored. You might ask it to do it at more speed, like 70. It’s still bored.

To get the G80 to wake up, you’ve got to be going at a clip that will land you in jail.

Early verdict

Name another car like this M3 sold today with a stick. Exactly…none.

I’m glad I waited, it was worth it, and we’ll see where this G80 takes me over 3 years of ownership.

G80 M3 rear
Let’s see how we do, G80.

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