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Now that information about the new 2021 BMW M3 is rolling out; the great grille debate is upon us. For the first time since 2015, BMW is gracing us with the presence of a new M3. Yes, the grille is atrocious. But there is so much more going on here.

Performance > Grille design

The critics have had a chance to drive the new M3 for a bit, and even though the car looks like an angry beaver, that doesn’t seem to matter. CNET noted that there are many more important things to discuss.

In fact, the author Steven Ewing said, “it wasn’t as bad as it looks.” That’s not a great way to start, but let’s get into it. The new M3 AND M4 both get the S58 3.0-liter twin-turbo I6.

The S58 is surprisingly rev-happy for a turbo engine, but because there’s so much low-end torque, you don’t always have to drop a gear or two to call up necessary passing power. 

Steven Ewing | CNET

The base tune gets 473 hp and 406 lb-ft torque, while the competition version gets 503 hp and 479 lb-ft. The base model comes in a six-speed manual option or an eight-speed automatic, but BMW will only offer the competition version in automatic.

The chassis sounds like the classic setup but made stronger with an aluminum subframe. The dampers can be controlled electronically and react well when needed.

Other specs on the M3

In addition to the performance side of things, the car comes with a whopping 10 different traction control options. One of which is called the M Drift Analyzer, which will score your drift’s duration and angle.

Methinks many people are going to crash trying to get a high score from the M Drift Analyzer. This should come with a “don’t try this at home” label.

You can also turn off the rev-matching by turning gear shit assist off, which is nice to have if you need it. And while you can choose from rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the AWD option offers a rear-wheel-drive mode.

The backseat and overall interior look room enough. The new paint options look pretty great. But overall, the price seems too high for the looks of this one.

The starting price for the base M3 is $69,900, while the competitive package is starting at $72,800. Pretty steep, but in line with what BMW normally charges.

BMW doesn’t care that the grille is ugly

Domagoj Dukec, BMW’s head designer, said explicitly that it doesn’t matter if people dislike the grill. “You can see that on something as polarising like the kidneys on the 4 Series, 20 percent of people like it. That fits the type of customers we are targeting,” Dukec told Top Gear.

Telling 80% of your customer base that such an opinion doesn’t matter is an interesting defense.

He was quick to note that everyone has an opinion, but he isn’t concerned with it. “If you want to create something that stands out, it must be distinguished, and it has to be different.”

It sounds like BMW wanted to make a car that stood out, even if it was negative. Everyone is still discussing the M3. One out of five people expressing that the grille is overkill still made it notorious.

Will the price turn potential buyers away? Likely not, but the grille still might.


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