BMW M recently marked a significant milestone in its illustrious 50-year history, channelling their paternal instincts into the creation of the 2023 M3 Competition Touring. For us down under, it’s simply known as a “wagon”.
Call it what you will, Touring, Estate, or yes, a wagon, this thing cuts to the chase and this writer will attempt to follow that same philosophy. So here it is, this car is nothing short of outstanding! Okay, you can go now. Actually stay, because there’s much to learn.
The M3 Competition Touring boldly maintains the core DNA of its sedan counterpart, resulting in minimal changes to its key performance stats. It sports a 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder engine with two mono-scroll turbochargers.
BMW prefers to call it M TwinPower Turbo technology and in the case of this powerhouse, it delivers a remarkable 375kW and 650Nm of torque. Paired with an 8-speed M Steptronic transmission, the setup is blisteringly quick.
Acceleration ensures laughter as it pins you to your seat with a 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.6 seconds. The best part is that it’s still a wagon. It even claims a 0-200km/h dash in only 12.9 seconds. We’ll take BMW’s word for it and leave that unverified.
Aesthetically, the distinctive front grille, which took some getting used to, is beautifully complemented by carbon fibre side intakes and the Frozen Black Metallic colour. Multiple similarly constructed elements adorn the vehicle, creating an eye-catching design.
From the aggressive front end to the flared fenders, enormous side skirts, and the quintessential quad exhaust with a carbon fibre diffuser, every aspect of this car proclaims, “I’m a family vehicle, but I’ll get you there quickly”.
Notably, you’ll find the 50-year emblem M badge, adaptive lighting, and in my opinion, the most exquisite standard wheels ever designed. Sliding inside, it’s evident accessing the interior isn’t the easiest process.
You’ll need to use your core strength to ease into the optional M Carbon bucket seats to preserve your kidneys. It’s akin to getting into a race car, but once seated, it’s an absolute delight.
Wrapped in Merino leather with ample bolstering to keep you firmly in place, these seats won’t let you slide when you decide to give the throttle a whole lot of lead foot. On the tech front, the cockpit is made up of two large screens that seamlessly blend into one another.
A 12.3-inch information display and a 14.9-inch control display meet seamlessly, with the two screens starting behind the steering wheel and gracefully curving towards the left of the dash. It reminds you that you’re in control and the sole pilot of this super wagon.
The infotainment system offers everything you’d expect from a modern car: Bluetooth connectivity, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, and an outstanding Harman Kardon speaker system.
The cockpit’s sleek design incorporates a tasteful mix of materials, including, yes, more carbon fibre. However, the only two buttons someone like yours truly needs are labelled M1 and M2.
These M-buttons are conveniently located on your left and right thumb when your hands are on the steering wheel and play an important role (but more on that in a moment). The interior also features several other cool touches we need to talk about first.
For example, there’s two-tone M stitching on the steering wheel, with a similar concept on the seat belts, elevating the brand’s attention to detail. Both the driver and front passenger enjoy heated seats, along with ample legroom because this isn’t a small wagon.
For those chilly lonely nights, there’s even a heated steering wheel. Some 500 litres of boot space is on offer when the rear seats are up, but if you need more, simply drop the second row in the M3 Competition Touring for a whopping 1,510-litres of room.
A button located in the cargo space that automatically folds the seats down is a very smart feature, and the wagon configuration includes a clever tailgate with a lifting window for quick access to the boot.
There’s also anti-slip rails on the boot floor that rise automatically to secure your luggage during spirited drives, and a removable cargo partition net to ensure backseat passenger safety.
What surprises though is the driving experience on residential inner-city streets. The M3 Competition Touring is comfortable. Lacking the aggressive noise of a sports car, it maintains a tranquil interior ambiance.
Deep down though, you, me, nay the world knows, this car is just waiting for you to press those M buttons. It’s in a constant state of readiness, despite, or perhaps in spite of, its dual personality.
It’s one part mature law abiding citizen, and one part high-octane maestro; serving as the ideal vehicle for both spirited fun and mature, everyday driving. But when you engage M buttons, the car transforms into a super wagon, delivering mind-blowing performance.
It’s incredible how a vehicle that appears perfect for taking your kids to soccer practice, can turn into a demonic beast with a simple button press. Customising the M buttons offers an array of options for suspension, steering feel, brake settings and traction control.
You can also alter wheel slip limitation, and it even has the ability to switch the M xDrive all-wheel drive system to rear-wheel drive. You can tailor these settings to match your aspirational race car driver / drift lord personality.
Spending more time with the car beyond the suburbs, you can’t help but burst with excitement as you unleash its power. I can’t help but laugh like 14-year-old me on a roller coaster.
The wagon, which initially feels subdued in urban environments, undergoes a remarkable transformation. It tackles twisty roads with ease, hugging corners like it’s on rails. The seats, which we were initially sceptical about, prove their worth.
They keep you secure and comfortable through every turn. Shifting to M2, the car seamlessly transitions from AWD to 2WD, with no traction control (we set it that way on purpose, mostly because we could).
It’s exhilarating, it’s fun and it’s outright not suitable for public roads. The control display also reveals intriguing features like ‘M Drift Analyser’ and ‘M Laptimer,’ indicating that this car is designed for both on and off-track performance.
Unfortunately, as journalists on test drives, we’re limited in how extensively we can explore these additional features. Bringing this vehicle to a halt is rapid, thanks to the carbon ceramic brake package on this particular model.
Featuring massive 400mm front discs and saving 13kg compared to the standard setup, it includes a 6-piston fixed calliper on the front and a 1-piston floating calliper on the rear – more than sufficient for both road and track demands.
The standard variant comes with a compound brake disc of 380mm on the front and 370mm on the rear. If you’re an enthusiastic driver, the $16,500 M Carbon Ceramic kit is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment.
In terms of fuel consumption, BMW claims a combined figure of 10.4-litres/100km. In ‘Mark Hawwa’ mode during our test drive however, we observed higher fuel consumption (how can you not unleash the beast).
As for pricing, this specific vehicle, inclusive of paintwork, carbon ceramic brakes, and the M Carbon Experience package, is priced at $219,100 plus on-roads. The recommended list price for the standard trim is $180,100 – again plus ORC.
Overall, the 2023 BMW M3 Competition Touring is a remarkable fusion of practicality and performance. It encapsulates the spirit of a family wagon with the soul of a race car, offering a truly unique driving experience with lots of boot space!
Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2023 BMW M3 Competition Touring, contact your local BMW dealer. Images and video courtesy of MyMedia Sydney.