2013 BMW M3

8.6
2013 BMW M3

The Basics:

The 2013 BMW M3 doesn't join in the complete redesign of the regular 2013 3-Series on the new F30 platform, but enthusiasts will be glad for that fact. Likely the last of the naturally-aspirated M3s, the 2013 M3 is, in its way, the end of a tradition.

Some might argue the tradition ended with the advent of the V-8-powered M3, brought in at the start of the E90-series M3. Whether you consider it trafe or not, however, the 414-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8 engine is a thing of beauty on its own: screaming high-rev sound, incredible responsiveness, and ample power give both Coupe and Convertible models plenty of oomph.

The 2013 BMW 3-Series is safe, fuel-efficient, and well-connected, yet it delivers the class-leading performance and handling that enthusiasts have come to expect.

In the lighter Coupe, the engine can pull the car to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, while the heavier Convertible gets the job done in a tick under six seconds. Either is available with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch M-DCT transmission. As with all M3s, drive is sent exclusively to the rear wheels.

Handling, as you'd expect of the M3, is excellent, despite this being the heaviest M3 to date by a considerable margin. BMW's M Division has tuned the suspension to deliver a firm, sporty ride and absolutely brilliant track dynamics for a road car, with ready turn-in, ample on-throttle oversteer available, and very good, if not quite excellent steering feel. The M3 is, in many ways, one of the most complete packages on the road today.

Like any BMW, the 2013 M3 is a well-built car, though some of the materials and design choices might leave a true aesthete wanting; the cabin can feel a bit dark and cave-like when equipped with the default black-on-black-on-black color scheme. That small quibble aside, however, the M3's cabin is a surprisingly comfortable, well-appointed place to be for a $61,000 Coupe (or $69,000 Convertible) of its performance caliber.

Crash-testing is rare among the luxury sport class of cars, and the 2013 BMW M3 is no exception; neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have tested the M3. With a full host of modern airbags, stability and traction controls, and advanced dynamic performance stability controls, plus its innate handling and braking capabilities, however, the M3 is likely to be a very safe car--and the 3-Series Coupe and Convertible it's based on has performed admirably in crash-testing, too.

Well-outfitted in base trim, with optional upgrades to suit most technophile tastes--provided you have the budget--the 2013 BMW M3 remains completely modern luxury sports car, despite its soon-to-be-replaced status.

Buying Tips:

This is the last year of the current-generation M3's production; while that means it will soon be replaced by a new version, it's not a significant reason to hold back from the V-8-powered model if it suits your needs and tastes.

Other Choices:

  • 2013 Audi A4
  • 2013 Lexus IS
  • 2013 Cadillac CTS
  • 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Reason Why:

The Cadillac CTS-V is in an entirely different performance class, with more than 140 extra horsepower, but it's very close to the M3's price, so those without a particular brand affinity and with a hankering for even more thrust might want to give the Caddy a look. Lexus' IS F offers similar power in a slightly heavier package, without quite as refined dynamics or street comfort, but it does feature styling and equipment all its own. The Mercedes-Benz C Class doesn't really offer any competition to the M3 until you get to the C63 AMG, but once you do, you're looking at a bona fide alternative--it really is an equally excellent sports coupe, though in somewhat different ways. Audi's S4 is less powerful and about the same weight as the M3, though the S4's weight distribution isn't as well-balanced. The S4's exterior and, especially, interior design are more refined and elegant, however, so those not concerned as much with absolute performance as with an all-around package might not mind the dynamic deficiencies.

The Bottom Line:

Despite its relative age, weight, and complexity, the 2013 BMW M3 is still a very satisfying dual-purpose street and track-capable car.

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