E9x BMW M3 – The Perfect Sports Car? Well, that’s what seems to be the general consensus amongst the Car and Driver’s editors, and certainly something we agree with now, as we have done in the past as well.
Before we will let you jump into their long-term drive report, allows us to start with their conclusion and work from there:
“Based on our experience, the current M3 is the world’s all-around best car for the money, although several staffers would have preferred to trade some of the coupe’s looks for the added practicality of the sedan.”
A car has got to be pretty spectacular to win over the curmudgeons here at 1585 Eisenhower Place, especially when familiarity sets in over the course of 40,000 miles. But our Sparkling Graphite Metallic M3 did indeed win us over. For less than $70,000, the M3 bolts from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and turns the quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds at 113 mph. It pulls an exceptional 0.96 g on the skidpad, stops in 147 feet from 70 mph, and reaches a governor-restricted 161 mph. On a racetrack or a back road, it’s a beautifully balanced and hugely entertaining machine.
Aside from performance, the M3 is comfortable on the highway and has plenty of space for four adults. It has a full complement of luxury accouterments and yet is very practical—even the trunk is commodious. It has muscular, raked looks and a handsomely dark interior. A bonus is that regular service doesn’t cost a cent, thanks to BMW’s full-maintenance program, which lasts for four years or 50,000 miles. (The gas bill, however, wasn’t cause to rejoice, given this BMW’s 17-mpg thirst.)
When it came to ordering the car, we went with the so-called M double-clutch transmission (M DCT), a $2700 option that replaces the standard six-speed manual with a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, BMW’s first. We were eager to try this setup because dual-clutch transmissions promise the smoothness of an automatic when the driver can’t be bothered to change gears, as well as superfast paddle shifts in manual mode. In the previous M3 (E46), BMW offered a single-clutch, automated manual gearbox that was notable for its harshness in manual mode and its clunkiness as an automatic.