What is it?
Possibly the ultimate BMW M3. It has the more powerful 444bhp engine from the M3 GTS packaged in the four-door saloon body (which we think is the sweetest handling of the E90 generation).
CRT stands for Carbon Racing Technology and the bonnet and front seats are both made from cellular carbon honeycomb – the material developed for the body panels of BMW’s i3 and i8 electric cars. There is also adjustable coilover suspension, titanium mufflers on the exhaust, less sound deadening and the brakes have been uprated.
What’s it like to drive?
Brilliant. You instantly feel the stiffer suspension and tighter body control, but there is still that extra confidence that you get with the saloon. The front end isn’t quite so unwilling to relinquish its grip as the coupe and as a result it feels like it has slightly more neutral balance and it’s easier to judge grip levels.
This is particularly appreciated in medium to fast corners where you feel happier to really chuck it in. We drove it on largely smooth German tarmac where it was sublime, but I suspect the rough and tumble of UK roads could make its ride feel a little too resilient (in which case you could simply roll up your sleeves and get stuck into the adjustable dampers).
The engine is magnificent and the reduced sound deadening lets the wonderfully rasping exhaust note permeate the cabin perfectly. Although a manual gearbox would have been a lovely option there is nothing to complain about with the standard DCT twin-clutch transmission which is quick and responsive. The fixed back carbon bucket seats combined with the Alcantara covered steering wheel also give a suitably special feel even when you’re just pottering along.
How does it compare?
A price of 130,000 euros (£105,000 at current exchange rates) puts it in extremely exalted company and the almost Q-car subtle looks certainly don’t advertise that you’ve spent Bentley money on your M3. However, exclusivity is guaranteed and the driving experience is right up there for sheer entertainment value.
Anything else I should know?
BMW has only produced 67 M3 CRTs in total, making it twice as rare as the M3 GTS. All of them are in Frozen Polar silver (matt paint to you and me) with Melbourne red accents. Sadly none of them have come to the UK.