Mostly, I love the new BMW M3 (and the M4; beneath their slightly different skins they are, BMW goes to some lengths to make clear, exactly the same car). But there is one whopping great caveat to that judgement, and it concerns you-know-what: the fact that its turbocharged.
But in this instance it isn’t just the once straightforward issue of turbocharging itself and the lag this used to create that is to blame, because to all intents and purposes there is no lag to speak of. You put your foot down in the new M3 and it goes, wallop. And it goes very hard indeed, right from the word go, thanks to some deeply clever engineering of the 3.0-litre straight six from BMW’s M magicians.
But it’s what happens after that, after the initial wave of acceleration has started to break, that I have an issue with, and you need to drill right down deep into the torque characteristics of the engine to realise why.
Peak torque of 406lb ft – which is 40 per cent more than in the old V8 M3, for heaven’s sake – arrives at a quite astonishingly low 1800rpm and then stays flat all the way to 5500rpm. And on the surface, this would appear to be the perfect way to ensure that the new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre M3 feels like it is propelled by a non-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12.
But actually, it doesn’t quite turn out like that – because so linear is the flow of torque between 2000 and 6000rpm that there is a strange lack of edge to its delivery. In many ways it feels like a really potent turbodiesel rather than a high-revving petrol-powered sports coupe, and that’s because there’s almost no sense of crescendo to its power delivery.
Instead, the M3 feels – and sounds – as lively at 2500rpm as it does at 7000rpm, and for a petrol-powered M car this comes as a fairly major disappointment. The surging, slightly manic sense of excitement that has defined the M3’s personality since 1986, right up until this point in time, is simply no longer there, unfortunately. And it’s been replaced by a more efficient, much more clinical but rather less memorable flow of power.
To some, this won’t matter one iota. But to others, it will mean everything; and to these people the latest M3 engine might come across a touch beige as a result.
Other than this, though, the new M3 is a corker – good looking, great to sit in, ridiculously rapid, spacious, great chassis, reasonably decent steering, excellent brakes and extremely well priced.
Good enough to unseat the mighty C63 AMG? We’ll tell you that this time next week.