Twenty years ago, the M3 was born as a homologation special so BMW could take its 3-series to the races. Although purists object to today's car being heavier and abandoning the straight-six, it hasn't strayed too far from its original mission. Every time I see that giant hood bulge and notice the redline marked at 8300 rpm on the tachometer, I can't help but think I'm climbing behind the wheel of a street-legal DTM racer -- albeit one trimmed with alcantara, trim panels, and three additional seating positions.

As much as I loved the wail of that banshee-like eight-cylinder, I'm perhaps most impressed with the M3's suspension tuning. It's taught for the twisties, of course, but the ride quality over cracked Michigan roads was better than a 335i with the sport package was earlier this year. The M3's chassis strikes a nice equilibrium for everyday use, although I wonder how the optional competition package affects this mix.

$66,000 is a substantial chunk of money, but I'm somehow able to wrap my head around it. This car is virtually without fault, and that includes the option list -- I'd spring for the tech package so I can play with and memorize the performance settings, and the heated seats are a godsend during Michigan's winters. I would, however, opt for the four-door body. Adding two doors strips the M3's price tag of $3000, while adding some extra practicality.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

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