Lithia Auto Stores

Compare the2024 BMW M3VS 2023 Volkswagen Golf R

2024 BMW M3
2023 Volkswagen Golf R

Safety

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The M3’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Golf R doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The BMW M3 has standard driver and front passenger side knee airbags mounted low on the dashboard. These airbags helps prevent the driver and front passenger from sliding under their seatbelts or the main frontal airbags; this keeps them better positioned during a collision for maximum protection. Knee airbags also help keep the legs from striking the dashboard, preventing knee and leg injuries in the case of a serious frontal collision. The Golf R doesn’t offer knee airbags.

The M3 offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Golf R only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the M3 and the Golf R have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and driver alert monitors.

Warranty

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The M3’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Golf R’s (12/unlimited vs. 7/100,000).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the M3 for 1 year and 16000 miles longer than Volkswagen pays for maintenance for the Golf R (3/36,000 vs. 2/20,000).

Reliability

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The battery on the M3 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the M3’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Golf R’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2023 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. With 57 fewer problems per 100 vehicles, JD Power ranks BMW higher than Volkswagen.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2022 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW above average in long-term dependability. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles in the first three years of ownership, Volkswagen is rated below average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ January 2023 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW third in overall reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 23rd.

Engine

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The M3 has more powerful engines than the Golf R:

Horsepower

Torque

M3 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder

473 HP

406 lbs.-ft.

M3 Competition 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder

503 HP

479 lbs.-ft.

M3 CS 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder

543 HP

479 lbs.-ft.

Golf R Manual 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

315 HP

280 lbs.-ft.

Golf R DSG 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

315 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the BMW M3 3.0 is faster than the Golf R Manual (manual transmissions tested):

M3

Golf R

Zero to 60 MPH

3.9 sec

4.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

9.2 sec

11.4 sec

Quarter Mile

12.2 sec

13.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

117 MPH

106 MPH

Top Speed

156 MPH

155 MPH

As tested in Car and Driver the M3 Competition is faster than the Golf R DSG (automatics tested):

M3

Golf R

Zero to 60 MPH

2.8 sec

3.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

7 sec

10 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

4.2 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

11 sec

12.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

124 MPH

111 MPH

In a Car and Driver race course test, the BMW M3 Competition xDrive was clocked 10.8 seconds faster than the Volkswagen Golf R (173.5 sec. vs. 184.3 sec.).

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regardless of its engine, the M3’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. If the conditions warrant or the driver wishes, the system can be manually disabled at any time for the duration of a trip. Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Golf R Automatic.

The M3 has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Golf R (15.6 vs. 14.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is available on the BMW M3, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Golf R.

The BMW M3 manual has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The Golf R doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the M3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Golf R:

M3

M3 CCB

Golf R

Front Rotors

15 inches

15.7 inches

14.1 inches

Rear Rotors

14.6 inches

15 inches

12.2 inches

The M3 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The Golf R doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The M3 stops much shorter than the Golf R:

M3

Golf R

70 to 0 MPH

150 feet

161 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

102 feet

107 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the M3 has larger tires than the Golf R (F:275/40R18 & R:285/35R19 vs. 235/35R19).

The M3’s optional 285/30R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 30 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Golf R’s 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the M3 offers optional 20-inch rear wheels. The Golf R’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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The M3 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Golf R’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the M3’s wheelbase is 9 inches longer than on the Golf R (112.5 inches vs. 103.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the M3 is 3.1 inches wider in the front and 3.5 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Golf R.

The M3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (52.9% to 47.1%) than the Golf R’s (59.2% to 40.8%). This gives the M3 more stable handling and braking.

The M3 Competition handles at 1.03 G’s, while the Golf R pulls only .95 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The M3 Competition executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Golf R (23.8 seconds @ .85 average G’s vs. 24.9 seconds @ .77 average G’s).

Chassis

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As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the M3 Competition is quieter than the Golf R (44 vs. 45 dB).

Passenger Space

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The M3 has 3.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf R (95 vs. 91.9).

The M3 has 2.1 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear legroom and .7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf R.

Cargo Capacity

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Pulling a handle automatically lowers the M3’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Golf R doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the M3 offers cargo security. The Golf R’s hatchback body style, non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the M3. The Golf R doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the M3’s trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The M3 also offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or just by kicking your foot under the back bumper. The Golf R doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the M3 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Golf R. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 33% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 28th.

Ergonomics

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The M3 offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Golf R doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

If the windows are left open on the M3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Golf R can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Laser headlights, optional on the M3, produce their light by firing blue lasers through phosphorus, a process that uses one-half the power of the Golf R’s LED headlights. Laser headlights can have double the range of LEDs with a much smaller surface area.

The M3’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Golf R’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

Model Availability

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The M3 is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The Golf R doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

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The BMW 3 Series outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by almost four to one during 2022.

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