The best quality of this car -- among many good ones -- is its throttle response. Step on the gas pedal in most modern cars, including turbocharged in-line-six-powered BMWs, and there's a slight but oh-so-noticeable hesitation as various onboard computers figure out how to answer your request. Not in the M3. It has eight throttles on hair-trigger alert, ready to answer even a slight tap from your right foot. It's actually a bit disconcerting at first, and it demands that you think about every application. Press down even a bit too hard on a one-to-two gearchange, and the car lurches you back in your seat. Lift too suddenly, and you're chucked against your seatbelt. But when you get it right...oh, my.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The BMW M3 is a great car, but the truth of the matter is that BMW's 328i, 335i, and 335is are so good that the most hardcore 3-series makes little practical sense unless you plan to take the car to a track often. Compared to the last M3 I drove, I noticed lighter parking-lot steering effort and a lighter clutch pedal with a touch more travel through the friction zone in this car. Both of these attributes make the M3 much more civil in daily use. However, its small-displacement V-8 still needs to be worked into the upper ranges of the tach to generate vigorous enthusiasm. Peak torque occurs at a relatively high 3900 rpm while the 414-hp power peak doesn't come until 8300 rpm. In the 335is, the twin-turbo inline six delivers 74 additional lb-ft of torque at just 1500 rpm, with a power band that is perfect for squeezing around traffic or dancing down a twisty road at seven-tenths.
I readily concede that the throne belongs to the M3 when it comes to the track and the rare road where you can exercise a car this powerful at its full potential. But if I'm buying a single BMW, I'd likely lay my cash down on a 335is and drive it hard every day.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor