Fleet News

BMW M3

BMW

Review

The pressure is on staff to maximise their potential, reduce down time and cut out waste.

##M32003--none##

And this applies most to the motorway-confined sales representative, pounding up and down the country in a bid to meet tight deadlines and get to appointments on time. Usually this would be done in a diesel-engined upper-medium car, but as we're playing a festive game of fantasy fleet, what better car for the time-pressed business driver than BMW's M3?

It's essentially a 3-series coupe with a subtle bodykit, a price tag of £39,735 on-the-road, a reasonable CAP residual value prediction of 38% and a serious amount of extra power – ideal for accelerating as fast as possible up those motorway slip roads before slipping it into sixth gear at 70mph.

The M3's 3.2-litre 343bhp straight six engine is limited to 155mph which is all very well, but that's a meaningless figure on our roads.

What is really important is the car's in-gear performance, where it demonstrates the kind of flexibility an Olympic gymnast would be proud of.

This engine produces 296lb-ft of torque at 4,900rpm, but the majority of that power (80%) is available under your right foot from just 2,000rpm. What this translates into is instant acceleration at any speed and in any gear.

While the 0-60mph benchmark sprint is dispatched in just 5.2 seconds, the really telling figure is the speed at which the M3 accelerates from 50mph to 75mph in fourth gear – a smidgen over five seconds. That's serious overtaking performance and it's the M3's raison d'etre.

So what sales reps really need to do in this car is turn off the motorway at the next available exit (after all, where's the fun in driving an M3 with all that power at 70mph?) and find a nice cross-country route to their next meeting where they can exploit the car's performance. And while they're doing that they can revel in one of the finest chassis ever to be installed on a road-going car.

The handling limits of the M3 are so high that it is very hard to unsettle it – it's only when you really press on that it moves from flat neutrality to a more lively state, kicking out the rear tyres under hard acceleration.

However, the only trouble with all this driver involvement is that your staff may well arrive at meetings looking frazzled after experiencing a 'maximum attack' journey. At least they will arrive looking the part – the M3 is one mean-looking car. The standard 3-series coupe bodyshell is taken and blistered wheelarches are added, as well as some cooling slats in the front wings.

Then BMW's M division adds four fat tailpipes at the back, a subtle rear spoiler and fits a set of chunky alloy wheels – 19-inch items in the case of our test car. Riding on ultra low-profile tyres, the BMW is a hard-riding, hard-looking car that any sales rep would be delighted to drive every day.

Fantasy Fleet verdict

Massive performance, fantastic looks and instant car park cred make the M3 the car that any sales rep would love to rack up the miles in.

Model: BMW M3
Engine (cc): 3,246
Power (bhp/rpm): 343/7,900
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 269/4,900
Max speed (mph): 155 (limited)
0-62mph (sec): 5.2
Comb fuel consumption (mpg): 23.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 287
Transmission: 6-sp manual
Fuel tank capacity (l): 63
Service interval (miles): variable
On sale: Now
Contract hire rate: £747
Price (OTR): £39,735

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

BMW 530e long-term test | running costs work for the right driver

We're testing the facelifted BMW 530e plug-in hybrid for six months.

Peugeot 308 CC 2.0 HDi SE

Not too long ago, convertible cars were a no-no on choice lists because of safety and security concerns.

Search Car Reviews