PAINTING a brief abstract of the M3 coupe is somewhat daunting. BMW’s best performance car’s virtues are many; its faults number few.
Hold on, say you. BMW’s best? The M5 and M6 both outgun and outrun the M3. V10 power!
Yes, I get that.
I’ve held on for dear life as the owner of an M6 wasted an E39 M5 mile after spine-tingling mile. Those 500 horses charge like wild Mustangs fighting capture. When you toe in, there’s this unrelenting surge that launches you into the horizon and doesn’t stop until you do.
And yet, the M6 doesn’t speak to me. And the M3 does.
Is it that at half the price of an M6, the M3 represents a better value for your buck, loonie, quid, or teuro?
Or could it be that the brash youthful nature of my upper-twenties puts me directly in the tuner market as opposed to finding appeal in a baby boomer’s grand tourer? My dream car is an Aston Martin DB9 Volante, so that’s a resolute no. OK, what is it then?
The current M3 coupe has a certain… purist magic to it. It’s part and parcel of what BMW does best. It’s the little things like the fact that the 414 hp V8’s naturally aspirated, for instance. Or that the iDrive seems to take a second billing to the helm controls. Or that the carbon fiber roofing provides a smart weight reduction solution in a market where most car companies’ knee-jerk response is to just add more horsepower.
The M6 is too big and the M5’s too heavy.
Both of BMW’s senior models feature an on-road character that’s as reassuringly personal as a traffic cop issuing a citation. To wit: they’re cold and the joy, somehow, is absent. Certainly, the M3 coupe’s every bit as sharp in its movements as the pricier M-cars, but it manages not to take itself quite as seriously. It’s tight without feeling constrained, muscular without being brutish, edgy while exhibiting more sophistication than a standard 3er.
Powering into one corner and feeling the register of tenacious grip leaves just enough room for a sly smile. The brakes are Porsche-sharp and the power’s delicious, too. But at 290 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm there’s not too much pull as to unhinge the symphony of virtues that best emblemize a BMW.
To add the last stroke: the M3’s got balance of character.
Gunnar Heinrich publishes automobilesdeluxe.tv
[Photos Source: Motor Trend ]