I feel as if I barely scratched the surface. Spectacular engine, obviously. Great brakes. Lovely steering feel, though I thought the steering wheel itself felt TOO beefy. (This seems to be a trend.) I wonder, however, whether the M3 is different enough from the 335i to justify the price tag. I mean, that’s a pretty sweet piece in its own right. As always, BMW goes to the trouble to place the pedals properly for heel-and-toeing (though I imagine that most M3s will go out the door with semi-automatics). The car seems awfully big, though, and you seemed to sit pretty high up, all of which took away from the sports car feel. In fact, whatever happened to sports cars? You know – little things, fun to drive, etc.
Preston Lerner, Contributing Editor
I love this engine. The long-travel clutch and shifter are a bit of a surprise, but the relationship between the controls is about perfect, and again, the engine is otherworldly. The M3’s best quality is how well matched the engine, suspension, chassis, trans, and brakes are. The brakes are perfect, the steering is numb until you’re sideways (and then it reads you your Miranda rights) but the effort is definitely heavier than in the pre-production cars I drove. The differential could be faster and smoother in its lock up, but dynamically there’s little to fault with the M3. I’ve made my decision and I think I want it more than I want a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. I’m sure that’ll change again the next time I drive a C63, though. I seem to always want whichever one I drove last.
Jason Cammisa, West Coast Editor
The M3 enjoys a firm place as a classic nameplate, alongside more historical names like Corvette and 911. The newest version only perpetuates that legend.
Even though the 4.0-liter V-8 hiding beneath that provocatively bulged hood isn’t very torquey (295 lb-ft at the top), this powerplant screams its way to its 8300-rpm horsepower peak with such ballsy strength that you can’t help but make it sing its highest note at every opportunity. I haven’t driven a car at speeds this fast in a very long time.
From the appearance department: the wheels look sweet, and the carbon-fiber-look fabric covering the face of the dashboard is extremely nice.
The only thing wrong with the M3 is that Mercedes-Benz has finally come up with a formidable competitor in the C63 AMG, which somehow has better, sharper steering than the M3’s. And while this manual gearbox is perhaps the best BMW stick that I’ve driven, I found the M3’s clutch to be too springy and the gear change not positive enough for my tastes.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The consummate “gets better the harder you drive it” machine. It’s so glued down that it inspires confidence even on wet back roads. I had to remind myself that it’s not all-wheel-drive. What can you say? The biggest problem with the M3 is that it’s the official car of superficial douchebags who buy it because it’s the most expensive M3, not because it’s one of the most rewarding drivers’ cars in existence.
Ezra Dyer, Contributing Writer
This latest M3 just has no fire in the belly. Its too smooth, too sophisticated. For instance, there are way too many M plus iDrive settings. Also, the rack and pinion noise is unseemly jerky. Still, an 8200-rpm redline is impressive.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
Base Price (with destination and gas guzzler tax): $55,875
Price as tested: $64,450
Fuel Economy: 14/20 mpg (city/hwy)
Size: 4.0-liter DOHC V-8
HP: 414 hp @ 8300 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed Manual
Weight: 3726 lbs