Long term tests

BMW M3 Competition

1000 miles in, how's our new BMW M3 Competition feeling? Auto gearbox and matt paint thoughts here

One thousand miles in, and I still feel like I don’t really know the M3. It looks sensational, sounds fab and really motors, but it’s taking me a while to feel at one with it. In large part, I reckon this is because of the gearbox.

Don’t get me wrong, the M double-clutch seven-speeder is very fine – silky smooth at trundling speed and swift and seamless at big revs. Trouble is, I find I want to be involved in between, and I’m not. I’m currently tinkering with the shift-speed settings in manual mode, slowing it down, to try to get a more natural feel. It seems the sensation of being connected to the car, integral to its progress, that you get via a clutch and gearlever (and throttle), is especially important given the M3’s dynamic potential.

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Maybe I need to get on track (the forthcoming evo trackday at Silverstone could be ideal) to see where the BM’s limits are, start to get to know it better, and also to see if the optional Competition Pack fitted to our car makes any difference. Costing £3315, the pack brings those tasty, inch-bigger alloys, 10mm lower suspension, electronic damper control with a Sport setting and retuned stability control.

I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the matt-finish Frozen Grey paint (a £1755 option) when I first washed the car – it’s smooth, but run a hand over it and you can feel that there’s a fine texture to it. Instructions have since come through from BMW and, as anticipated, they warn against using wax: ‘Never polish the vehicle. This can lead to glossiness.’ Microfibre cleaning cloths, I’ve discovered, work a treat.

Running Costs

Date acquiredMay 2010
Total mileage3593
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month1018
MPG this month22.9
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