M Power Balanced: BMW M3

BMW M3 | August 1st, 2009 by 6
2009 bmw m3 sedan side view1

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 …

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.

2008 bmw m3 sedan front three quarter view1 655x380

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.

2009 bmw m3 sedan side view1 655x380

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 ]

6 responses to “M Power Balanced: BMW M3”

  1. X5 SoB says:

    Nicely put. The fact is, the previous M5 was more of driver’s car than the current one. The current M3 emulates the previous M5.

  2. Barry says:

    I very much agree with you. Great write-up!!

  3. Doug says:

    Interesting comparison. I’ve watched quite a lot of M6s and noticed that on our bumpy baltimore road surfaces, it seems to have a much softer suspension than you’d want on a performance car. It is well damped, but it doesn’t seem firm enough to deliver the response and feel you’d want.

  4. Marc says:

    Yeah well…..if money were no object and I HAD to choose just ONE….i would still get a M6….it is such a beautiful car. And for me personally the current N54 engined E92 and E82 sit a bit too close to the M3 for comfort (especially considering with a few bolt on mods you are very close to M3 HP and positively killing it in the lb/ft torque department). Just my .02

    • _Auday_ says:

      Marc, it’s not about HP and straight line only… M3E92 does the ring in 8:05, M6 in 8:09, and the E92 335i in 8:26. The M3 is tuned to be a sports car while the M6 is just a luxurious car with lots of HP and a great engine.

      I would even go further and say it’s not about numbers and not about beating someone one the straight highway, it’s all about enjoying driving and feeling the car. And for that I would say, IMO, E46M3 is a better sports car than E92M3 although it does the ring in 8:22.

  5. I prefer the older m3, e46…

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