BMW M3. The name immediately creates an image of a fast cornering, 4.1 seconds 0-60 capable, 3.0-liter Inline-6 rear-wheel spinner that is a monster on or off the track. Getting its tail out in corners is a piece of cake for those drift-maniacs. The M badge is synonymous with high-end performance makes the M3 a complete monster of a sedan. However, how well does it drive in the snow?
The BMW M3 is not a suitable car for snowy conditions. This is mainly due to the fact that the car has rear-wheel drive allowing for little control on slippery roads. Furthermore, the ground clearance of 4.6 inches doesn’t allow the car to get through heavy snowfall. Finally, owners of an M3 also report it’s difficult to drive in the snow.
With that said, we’re going to dive deeper into this question. We’ll discuss the opinions of the owners of the M3. Furthermore, we’ll discuss which features of the car make it suitable for winter driving and which don’t. Read on!
The experience of BMW M3 owners makes the most sense as there is nothing else that can tell the tale. As one of the most famous European Car Makers, BMW is very popular in North America due to its luxury and driving dynamics that are tough to beat by other manufacturers.
Mainly the three series sedans, including the BMW M3, are targeted at young buyers. Make no mistake. Young drivers mature with age, but while they are in their youth, it takes a while before reality sinks in. The same goes for the M3 buyers. People usually make emotional buying decisions forgetting weather anomalies. Come winter; the decision turns out irrational.
On one of the forums where a prospective buyer of BMW M3 was concerned about the winter and snow performance of the vehicle, another driver suggested:
“An M3 probably won’t be quite as sure-footed as a xi, but you really shouldn’t have any problems. Buy a dedicated wheel/tire set, and you’ll be able to swap them over yourself in less than an hour.”(Source)
Then another driver tested his M3 without and with black-top patch bags in the trunk to add weight to the rear axle. 120 lbs, to be precise. He already has a set of snow tires put on his car for traction. With this, he also has the traction control system switched off for more driver control. He says:
“As you could see, with just 120 extra pounds in the trunk, I was able to get up this hill.”
And then, after he drove all the way out from his driveway, he says, “I mean you still have to be smart when you drive even with extra weight in the trunk. A lot of times you have to use momentum to get yourself going.”(Source)
So the verdict is clear. The BMW M3 is by no means a winter-commuter. However, with some tweaking and awareness, one can turn the BMW M3 into a livable winter and snow companion.
The BMW M3 is a performance sedan, and one cannot expect it to come with winter or snow tires. The standard tires are Performance Run-Flat Tires that come pre-installed on the BMW M3. The key difference between performance tires and winter/snow tires is the rubber compound that goes into its construction.
Performance tires are built for higher temperatures and thus perform well in hotter conditions. The high-temperature road surface and tires spinning make them sticky, and the vehicle remains glued to the road. This is one area where the BMW M3 adds a tad more attractiveness to young buyers.
However, snow and winter tires offer better grip in lower temperatures, and they keep the rubber from hardening even in temperatures lower than 45 degrees. However, the need for winter and snow conditions varies.
If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!
Like most performance vehicles, the BMW M3 also offers a Rear Wheel System, which provides a high dose of adrenalin rush. As with most RWD vehicles, the main characteristic is that most of the vehicle’s weight is at the front wheels. This allows for drifting maneuvers, and most young buyers opt for it. Intentionally.
However, the RWD systems have their own set of pros and cons. Pros are mostly emotion-centric, while cons are practicality-centric. This is one trade-off an average driver would never make in the right state of mind. An RWD system allows for vehicle behavior that is anti-winter. Drifting, drag racing, etc.
Throwing the tail out is probably the biggest nightmare for an average winter driver. Winter and snow driving demands more traction with the least amount of slippage. Therefore, drivers can quickly run into accidents if the tires don’t offer the minimum traction needed for winters.
This can be compensated by adding extra weight to the rear. Drivers use sandbags and other weight-adding techniques to add more weight and get more traction due to the car’s rear end. By adding weight, the tire grip increases and thus makes the M3 more usable in winters and snow.
All modern cars come with driver aids to subtract driver inputs from the car’s driving experience. Such aids contribute substantially to the car’s overall experience for the drivers and thus eliminate many errors, the possibilities of which are endless. The BMW M3 is no different as it has its own set of electronics systems we are about to discuss.
ABS is a system that isn’t new by any means. It allows the drivers to steer the vehicle away from the line of danger by preventing the wheels from locking under heavy braking. Usually, when a driver senses a possible impact, his instincts push him towards the brake pedal and force his muscles to apply maximum available force to stop the car.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t occur as per the driver’s wish, and the wheels get locked due to the immense pressure applied to the brake pedal. The ABS cuts off this force intermittently to allow some wheelspin and regains lost traction, thereby allowing the driver to steer away from danger, a pretty nifty system that comes in handy in snow.
The dynamic brake control system is designed by BMW to instantly build up brake pressure the moment a driver hits the brake pedal. This is crucial as it helps save some significant milliseconds in the initial curve of brake pressure and spike the pressure up instantly. This compensates for any delay in the driver’s response to an expected danger ahead.
With DBC, the braking system intelligently unleashes the maximum amount of braking pressure as soon as the brake is applied. This system continues till the driver has eventually reached the total amount of brake pressure he can use before the ABS is engaged.
This trickery results in a shorter braking distance than a vehicle that is not equipped with DBC, allowing for a higher probability of saving an impact or collision.
Brake fading means a sudden surge in temperature of the brake fluid and braking components under heavy braking. The BFC engages ABS when it detects such a surge in temperature and cuts off the brake pressure supply to enhance brake pressure transmission in proportion to the force applied at the brake pedal.
This driver aid allows for a longer life span of the braking components that would otherwise wear sooner owing to exposure to higher than average temperatures caused by friction of the braking components, allowing for maximum availability of brake force.
The BMW Dynamic Stability Control is a robust system that allows a driver to maintain vehicle stability by opposing the external forces tending to cause the vehicle to become unstable. The DSC sensors keep an eye on vehicle speed, acceleration, braking pressure, and wheel rotation.
Making sure that none of the above go out of shape, the DSC counters any possibility of the vehicle losing its stability. This allows for better control in winters and snow.
It impacts several key performance parameters such as response to acceleration/deceleration, cornering stability. Ideally, while braking, the weight distribution should be equal on all four tires. Usually, the weight distribution differs in each trim level, and on top of that can vary even among the same trim levels due to different packages and add ons.
When it comes to weight distribution, no one comes close to making a perfect 50/50 weight distribution throughout their lineups as the BMW does. No matter which BMW you pick, 50/50 weight distribution will be there. And that’s precisely why BMW’s handling is considered on the top of the automotive industry. A lot of R&D goes into achieving that perfect 50/50 split.
|2022 Models||Weight Distribution F/R|
|M Model M3 Sedan||50/50|
|M Model M3 Competition Sedan||50/50|
|M Model M3 Competition xDrive Sedan||50/50|
The BMW M3 has a low ground clearance. At 4.6 inches, it is relatively close to the road, which makes it more challenging to steer a vehicle in winters and snow than cars of higher ground clearance.
Since the M3 is performance-focussed, lower ground clearance is inevitable. This translates into a higher level of readiness from the driver in winter and snow conditions. The chances of losing vehicle control are exponentially higher for a low-slung sedan than cars with higher ground clearance.
At 112.5 inches, the M3 falls within the same wheelbase margins as other sedans of this class do. 112.5 inches is a moderate wheelbase, allowing reasonable control over the car by an average driver. But let’s not get complacent in remembering that the rear wheels drive the M3. The fact that it is a rear-wheel-drive car makes that it’s simply not suited for winter driving.
Traction devices are what drivers resort to when the going gets tough. Or when the going gets cold, to be precise. People tend to use various traction devices to ensure maximum traction on slippery surfaces as one is faced with in times of winter and snowfall.
This is another challenge for the M3. The tires of the car are dangerously close to the wheel-arches and thus eradicate the possibility of using a traction chain or anything that goes on the tires to enhance grip in snow and winters. A slight bump in the road is all it will take to ruin your wheel-arches.
The best bet here is to get good-quality snow/winter tires and add some weight to the car’s trunk to gain as much traction as possible.