2004 All-Star: GT

0402 M3 01 S

Photographed by Juergen Skarwan

The latest M3 has everything we like about cars--speed, handling, braking, good looks--just the way we like it, in ludicrous quantities. Deeply sporty, edgy even, it is luxurious and relentlessly smooth yet blindingly fast, an automotive paradox that remains one of the most satisfying rides ever. Although some of us will recall the very first M3, the four-cylindered E30 line, more than a little wistfully, the new car is a rocket ship to the earlier model's skiff-with-a-tailwind. Not all will learn to love the optional sequential-manual gearbox, but it's hard to argue with BMW's finest 333-horsepower six, a mind-blowingly powerful yet addictively silky showpiece of an engine. A Bangle-ized replacement will arrive soon, and it will be hard-pressed to top today's M3. For coupe or convertible, this is surely the most beautiful M3 ever.

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