Compared: 2023 BMW M3 vs. 2023 BMW M5

Performance, value, and size: prioritize two of these factors and you’ve found your winner.

2023 BMW M5 2023 BMW M3BMW M5 | M3

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Almost every luxury automaker offers a sports sedan, but those seeking heritage and legacy will beeline it to the BMW dealership. The brand’s M performance division is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, marking half a century of thrilling and engaging performance vehicles. In addition to the iconic 2023 BMW M3 sports sedan, the automaker offers the M5; a larger, more luxurious model. Both feature tons of power, dramatic exhaust sounds, and track-ready performance, but these two sedans cater to different kinds of enthusiasts. Let's break it down.

2023 BMW M3BMW | M3

2023 BMW M3 vs. 2023 BMW M5: Price

If you’re on a budget, then the M3 is the choice. It starts around $74,000 for the entry-level model, though that term is hard to apply to a 473-hp speed machine that can do 0-60 mph in a mere 4.1 seconds. While the base model comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission, the $78,000, 503-hp M3 Competition model comes equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission, allowing the car to blast off to 60 mph from a standstill in 3.8 seconds. The M3 Competition xDrive features all-wheel drive and goes from 0 to 60 in an eye-watering 3.4 seconds. That much quickness comes at a cost: about $82,000.

The M3 delivers its thrills using a turbocharged six-cylinder engine, while the M5 features a 600-hp, twin-turbocharged V8 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. That combination is quick enough to let the big sedan hit highway speeds in a mere 3.2 seconds. The starting price is $110,000, though BMW will also toss $100 your way by removing the hands-free trunk feature. If you want even more power, the M5 is available with a Competition package, which adds 17 hp and several track-focused features for an extra $7,600.

2023 BMW M3BMW | M3

2023 BMW M3 vs. 2023 BMW M5: Interior

That massive jump in price between the two cars includes not only more power, but also more space. For example, the M5 is about 7 inches longer and about 2 inches taller when compared to the M3. The extra size is clearly noticeable in the rear seats and cargo area. Rear passengers will be far more comfortable in the M5, where they’ll find more headroom and legroom. With 14 cu. ft. of storage in the trunk, the M5 is a bit more practical for stashing groceries, compared with the M3’s 13 cubes of space.

Space differences aside, the equipment is about equal. The biggest difference is a newer version of the iDrive infotainment system in the M3, but both cars still offer features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, wireless charging, and a Harman Kardon audio system.

2023 BMW M5BMW | M5

2023 BMW M3 vs. 2023 BMW M5: Fuel Economy

While the M5 offers more power and space, it also drinks fuel at a pace of 17 mpg in combined city/highway conditions. The M3 is more efficient, though not by much. Base M3 and M3 Competition models return 19 mpg combined, while the xDrive-equipped model delivers 18 mpg.

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Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad is an award-winning automotive journalist who has contributed to several automotive, electric vehicle, luxury lifestyle, and technology publications. His work isn't just limited to the written word, as he's also hosted YouTube videos and podcasts. Having grown up in the '90s, he has a strong sense of attachment to that era's style, though he also loves to geek out about the modern, futuristic tech and powertrains rolling out today.