The undulating asphalt ribbons that roll over the desert hills near Pioneertown, Calif., offer many treacheries. Quick elevation changes and dips disrupt a vehicle’s contact patch at high speeds, loosening up grip in critical moments. Luckily for us, the vehicle we’re testing is the automotive word salad known as the 2023 BMW M3 Edition 50 Jahre BMW M, and it remains firmly planted. Our Fire Orange model’s Adaptive M suspension, Dynamics Control and M Sport differential all coordinate to keep the Michelin Pilot Sport tires sealed to the road, and we begin to stretch the M3’s legs.
For 2023, the BMW M3 offers drivers a wide amount of tweaking, allowing you to tune the engine and chassis between three modes (Efficient/Comfort, Sport and Sport +), while the steering and brakes offer two other modes (Comfort and Sport). You can also toggle BMW’s M xDrive between 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD rear-wheel drive.
Once we aim the M3’s snout off Twentynine Palms Highway towards Pioneertown, we dial everything up to 11 and revel in the madness. Thank the heavens for these optional M Carbon bucket seats—so tight they almost hug you in place. They could prove tiresome on long drives, but right now, given the violent lateral shoves from the corners, the squeeze is welcome.
Of course, the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six engine supplies plenty of both bark and bite, woofing loudly as it unleashes just over 500 hp of gas-induced shenanigans. Nice accoutrements include the customizable firetruck-red M1 and M2 levers on the steering wheel, streamlining rapid one-touch Hulk modes that the driver can tailor (for instance M1 can offer the engine in Sport and chassis at Sport+, while you set up M2 to full track-ready status).
Based on the standard M3, this edition—crafted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Munich’s high-performance M division—boasts a beautiful interior, with the Jahre getting all the luxury appointments like black Merino leather for the steering wheel, polished carbon-fiber trim across the dash and center console, a superb Harmon Kardon surround sound system and a massive curved touchscreen. The touchscreen is actually two displays—a 12.3-inch gauge cluster and a 14.7-inch central display—encased beneath a single pane of glass to form one contiguous presentation.
The high-res iDrive 8, BMW’s latest and greatest UX operating system, was initially launched in the i4 and iX but is now migrating throughout the product range. Since the 3-Series received the iDrive 8 upgrade, so did the M3 and, therefore, the Jahre Edition M3. (The M4, however, has not.)
Accents given to the Jahre include M’s signature tricolor stitching on the front and rear headrests, plaques on the door sills and Jahre-exclusive forged Style 826M wheels in matte gunmetal finish. All of this is in addition to the 50-Year emblems that the 2023 M lineup receives, such as stylized roundels, unique wheel caps and anniversary badging peppered throughout.
The Jahre was actually born from dealer demand, as US showroom bosses requested a special-edition, high-performance BMW to mark the half-century milestone of M. The automaker’s brain trust dug back in the history books, selecting five colors exclusive to the Jahre edition—each representing a different generation of M3: Cinnabar Red from the E 30; Techno Violet from the E 36; Interlagos Blue from the E 46; Fire Orange III from the E 92 (our chosen steed); and Lime Rock Gray from the F80 CS. The Jahre comes almost fully loaded, the only extra-cost options being the M Carbon Ceramic brakes and M Carbon bucket seats. BMW is offering this limited-edition model solely in North America, and only 500 examples will be made.
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