BMW has a history of filling the gaps in its performance vehicle lineup — especially when it comes to compact models. The idea is that full-blown M cars, such as the iconic M3, are too brash to suit every enthusiast. Accordingly, buyers who desire a hint of extra tenacity should have a reasonable half-step between regular Bimmers and M-engineered models — both in terms of performance and price.
This strategy is best represented by the two prior generations of 3 Series sports cars. In the early 2000s, BMW launched a performance package on the 330i sedan that brought it closer to the hallowed M3. About a decade later, it inserted the 335is between the 300-horsepower 335i and the 414-hp M3 — and this model’s upgrades made it nearly as quick as the M3, just without the flashy bodywork.