'The BMW M3 and Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio are state of the art, yet in some ways they’re also dinosaurs'

Deputy editor John McIlroy thinks we should celebrate combustion engines before they die out

Opinion BMW M3

Auto Express readers are clearly aware of the process of electrification that all car companies are going through at the moment. Our inbox is split between those of you who want as much detail and clarification on EVs as possible, and plenty of folk who’d rather we focus on the efforts to extract every last bit of time and performance from combustion engines.

Rest assured, this contrast is not lost on us; we love cars, after all. And that’s why we get slightly misty-eyed when putting together tests like this week’s front cover story: two rear-wheel-drive super-saloons (including one carrying the legendary M3 badge) with a combined output of more than 1,000bhp from a couple of turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engines.

We’re not about to give out any spoilers here on the result, collated from a mixture of road and racetrack tests. But combine the fact that this is the newly launched BMW M3 with a normal seven-year model cycle and you can start to understand the potential significance of the test in general. It’s clear that we are in a period now where fabulous cars that have thrilled us all for decades are perhaps entering their final incarnation, at least in a recognisable form. The M3 and its Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio rival are state of the art. And yet, in some ways, they’re also dinosaurs.

It’s not easy to admit this, but CO2 fleet targets, government incentives and penalties, and just plain old customer demand make it hard to judge how many more tests of this ilk lie ahead between now and the UK’s ban on pure-combustion-engined vehicles from 2030. 

There will be thrilling cars in the years to come; we’re convinced of it. But we should also feel free to celebrate and enjoy what may ultimately be declared ‘peak combustion engine’. And, in the case of this week’s test, those motors are installed in cars that you can carry the family in and drive every day – a fantastic achievement.

Check out the best sports cars you can buy right now...

Recommended

'This really is a great time to buy a new car'
Opinion dealership
Opinion

'This really is a great time to buy a new car'

Steve Fowler points out some great new car deals to be had in post-lockdown
14 Apr 2021
'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'
Opinion commute
Opinion

'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'

Britain needs to re-think its approach to commuting, according to Mike Rutherford
11 Apr 2021
'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'
Truck
Opinion

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'

Mike Rutherford proposes some alternative options to help streamline British imports and exports
23 Jan 2021
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021

Most Popular

New 2021 Volkswagen Transporter T7 van teased
New 2021 Volkswagen Transporter T7 van teased
Volkswagen Transporter

New 2021 Volkswagen Transporter T7 van teased

Next-generation Volkswagen Transporter T7 will break cover later this year with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain
14 Apr 2021
'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'
Opinion Nissan EV
Nissan

'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'

Steve Fowler thinks Nissan is in a great position to build on the Leaf's success
8 Apr 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and it brings a practical outlook to the EV ownership experience
13 Apr 2021