The G80 BMW M3 can’t live up to our expectations from the M3 badge when the G20 3-series it’s based on barely resembles a 3-series.
Or can it?
In this episode of ICONS, Jason Cammisa explores where our expectations of the M3 badge come from — starting from the original M3, which was a response to the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16, and the need to homologate the cars for FIA motorsport championships.
Holding any M3 to the standard of the E30 M3 isn’t fair to BMW, because the E30 M3 was a sales failure.
The E46 M3 wasn’t. It combined the charms of a race car in a usable daily package with killer performance and a motorsports-inspired, 8000-rpm S54 straight-six. The E46 M3 was peak M3.
Which leaves us at the G80, which is now larger than peak M5: the E39. M5s, historically, were do-everything-well executive saloons. That’s not quite what purists expect when they see an M3 badge.
Then again, the G80 is the best M3 to ever drive around a race track. So maybe its name is irrelevant.