BMW’s new Competition Package for the M3 Coupe

We’re disappointed with BMW’s new Competition Package for the M3 – it’s a £3,300 package of features that should add to the appeal of the already desirable M3 Coupe.

But the M3 is an iconic model in the BMW range, perhaps the one car that best represents what BMW is all about and BMW knows how vast and influential their enthusiastic owners can be. So what are the enthusiasts to make of this new Competition Package?

You may be familiar with the M3 Edition, which was launched in July 2009 and featured a 10mm lowered ride height together with several cosmetic changes to the standard M3 Coupe. These changes are carried forward as part of the Competition Package, together with several further enhancements.

The 10 mm lower suspension is joined by a revised Electronic Damper Control system with a new dynamic Sport setting, where previously the sport setting was fixed (both comfort and normal settings on all M3s are already dynamic), and a new Dynamic Stability Control Plus system with less electronic intervention thereby allowing more slip than the standard car’s M Dynamic Mode (MDM).

The Competition Package includes 19-inch light alloy wheels, inspired by the E46 M3 CSL plus a host of cosmetic changes including carbon fibre embellishments on the front spoiler and rear valence.

So what’s the problem?

Well, many enthusiasts are still seething over BMW’s decision not to produce a successor to the E46 M3 CSL and produce the X5 M and X6 M instead – although the soon to be launched M3 GTS may have silenced some of the more vocal critics. But it’s a raw nerve and one that many enthusiasts take seriously – after all, this is the signature car of BMW’s M Division and provides a barometer for BMW’s DNA.

Using carbon fibre (a la CSL), plus a faux-CSL boot spoiler and CSL wheels could well be like waving a red rag to a bull…

Other changes introduced at the same time include Auto Start-Stop technology which comes as standard to all versions of BMW’s M3. The Coupé, Convertible and Saloon already feature Brake Energy Regeneration, lightweight engineering principles and on-demand use of ancillary systems to enhance all round efficiency. The introduction of Auto Start-Stop, on both manual and M DCT transmission-equipped cars, represents the first time a BMW model with more than four-cylinders and a transmission other than a six-speed manual has featured the technology. No other high performance car currently comes with this capability.

The benefits of Auto Start-Stop for all BMW M3 models results in significant reductions in CO2 emissions and an improvement in fuel consumption from the EU5 compliant power plant. On the M3 Coupe this results in an increase from 23.7mpg on the combined cycle to 25.2 mpg, when fitted with Auto Start-Stop.

The Competition Package will go on sale 20 March, 2010 at the same time as Auto Start-Stop technology joins the standard specification of all M3 models.