Let’s get this out of the way: the E92 version of the M3 is the fastest produced to date. It’s wickedly fast in “power mode” (little button on center console) and emits a unique DOHC variable valve timing V8 howl that is more akin to a Ferrari than a Corvette. It’s all business; no sunroof, navigation, nor power seats and it handles like its on rails, except for a little front push at the limit. It has two optional modes of Electronic Dampening Control (EDC) that puts the driver in control in the handling department.
The competition package on this coupe features 19-inch wheels with 245/275 wide Michelin Sports front and rear, putting plenty of tread on the ground. Unfortunately, the 7-speed double clutch transmission still isn’t intuitive for the uninitiated. Dual clutch transmissions work differently than torque converter automatics, in that there is slippage at low RPM causing the car to roll back in slight incline situations, and the car has a tendency to surge forward once the transmission engages. This wouldn’t be an issue on the track, but in daily driving the dual clutch box still exacts a penalty.
Although the M3 is ridiculously fun to drive, it is somewhat impractical in terms of ownership due to the inability to use all of the performance on the street. It’s quite costly to run with 414 horsepower, and the car recorded an average of 15 MPG, with mileage dipping below 10 MPG when hard on the gas. The way to address this is displacement and weight, and rumor has it that the next generation M3 will likely return to a six cylinder engine, with the hope of gaining efficiency and trimming weight.
Comfort and Convenience
Our M3 started off on the wrong convenience foot because it lacked navigation. Sometimes you just want to be guided to your destination, which is rather difficult with no Nav system. A few other dings came up, like the inconvenience of long doors in tight parking spaces, the manual up and down lever for the seat, the rear seat of our coupe seemed high, the seat belt push assistant was nice but fragile looking, and the sound system was relatively basic.
With beauty comes compromises, especially for rear seat head and leg room as well as trunk space, but the current M3 does have a little more trunk space than the E46, and under 6 foot adults were relatively comfortable in the back seat. The E46 front seats push forward and rise, helping with ingress/egress, but this M3 only had the push forward feature and no memory to go back to the original front seat position. The steering wheel has always been a high point of the M3, with just the right material, thickness, accessory buttons and full adjustability, allowing anyone to communicate with the road in an all business manner. They don’t get the nickname the Ultimate Driving Machine for nothing.
The driver’s seat features power four way lumbar and adjustable wings for the side bolsters, allowing one to attain the perfect seating position. Except for the lack of power (up/down) and memory for the driver’s seat, this is a tough seating combination to beat, and it showed with rave reviews from all of our staff who drove it. Again, for the aggressive driving this car was intended for, BMW picked just the right amount of comfort and convenience features.
Recommend to Buy and Conclusion
The latest M3 coupe is probably the best of the series, save the very first E30 introduced in 1988. With the latest transmission and engine combination, it would be difficult to find such a stylish coupe or sedan that can carry four adults around for street driving and easily transition into a track master on the weekend. If you have a short commute and plan on hitting the track on the weekend, this might be just the dual-purpose car for you. Outside of a few interior shortcomings, this M3 is about the best all-around package out there, so long as you can afford the $68k (as equipped) ticket for entry.
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