I love the looks of this BMW M3 not just because of its big wheels and carbon-fiber spoiler, but also because the flared fenders and squat stance make it look deliberate and purposeful. I love the M3's V-8 engine not simply because it makes 414 hp, but because of the way it furiously races toward its 8400-rpm redline. I love the quad-tip exhaust not simply because it's loud (and it is very loud), but because it snarls and barks and growls like a race car. And I love the dual-clutch transmission not only because I can drop it into automatic mode when creeping around in rush-hour traffic, but because in full-bore mode it shifts with a ferocity and swiftness I could never manage with a manual gearbox.
My favorite experience of all, though, was parking the M3 in an underground garage downtown and revving the engine, revelling in the glorious, ear-pounding rasps and reverberations. Childish, perhaps, but it absolutely put a grin on my face.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
I happened to be wearing black track pants and an orange shirt with a black hoodie the first night I drove the M3 Lime Rock, and some of my fellow runners in my core training class noticed the color match-up as I got out of the test car, which has fire orange paint over a black interior. An orange M3 gets noticed, let me tell you. On my way home from a quick trip to Ikea, a couple of young guys in a last-generation Mazda 6 came up alongside me on I-94 and were clearly waiting for me to demonstrate the car’s capabilities. I couldn’t very well ignore a challenge from a Mazda 6, now could I? I waited a few beats and then the freeway opened up with three empty lanes. I hit the M and Power buttons for a very discernible power boost, downshifted to third, and floored it. The speedometer indicated 130 mph before I or the Mazda 6 guys even knew what happened. For about 30 seconds, I owned westbound I-94. I slowed down, entered the middle lane, and waited for the Mazda guys to catch up. They seemed happy. I know I was.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The M3 Lime Rock Edition is not a car to drive if you want to keep a low profile. The luscious orange paint, carbon-fiber roof and spoiler, and M3 badging all call attention to the car -- and that’s before you hit the ignition button and the V-8 engine roars to life. Of course, it’s conspicuous by design: BMW built only 200 Lime Rock Edition M3s and it’s the first time Lime Rock Park has lent its name to a car, so the automaker wants you to know that it’s something special.
Is it a bit of overkill when you’re only going to the grocery store or the movie theater? No doubt. But if you owned one, you could make the world your racetrack.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The controversial retina-melting orange hue is apparently BMW’s way of sending the public a final notice that the end of the E92 M3 is nigh. With an all-new M3 due in a year or so, and BMW M GmBH indicating the current-generation M3 is effectively sold out, the Lime Rock edition just may be your last chance at buying and experiencing a brand-new, fourth-generation M3.
And you really should experience it. Many will argue the E30 M3 is more pure or the E46 a well-balanced machine, but it’s really hard not to fall in love with the current M3, especially after a stint behind the wheel. That growl upon start-up makes your heart skip a few beats, as does the power -- and the sweet, glorious noise -- that emerges from the 4.0-liter V-8 at anything more than half-throttle. That engine is also crammed into an incredibly sharp, communicative chassis that has few true rivals, especially on a closed course.
I’m sure that the next M3 will be fast and enjoyable, but it’s certain the days of screaming, eight-cylinder M3s are coming to an end. If that’s the sort of car that tickles your fancy, strike now while the iron is as hot as the M3 Lime Rock’s exterior paint.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor