The 15 Best BMW M Cars – As voted by readers

BMW M | July 6th, 2015 by 11
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Back in 2012, we put together an article on the top 15 best BMW M cars of all time. As any ranking or numbered list, …

Back in 2012, we put together an article on the top 15 best BMW M cars of all time. As any ranking or numbered list, the results can be somewhat subjective and won’t sit well with everyone. In the end, we all have our own criteria when it comes to personal preference, and even more true when it comes to our cars.

So we decided to give you, the readers and our loyal supporters, a voice to publish your own thoughts on the best 15 M cars. Scooter Mitchel  has shared with us the following list “as voted by MotorWeek readers and some of the most well versed BMW enthusiasts in the world”.

15. E31 850CSi

bmw 8 e31 850csi 655x459

We could not leave this off the list despite wanting to. It weighs as much as a tank, but it is the M8 that was never made. The only BMW Motorsport car with a V12. The car looks cool regardless on who you ask.

14. E36/7 M Roadster

BMW Z3 M Coupe E367 750x563

The car James Bond should have been driving in GoldenEye. The power of the S54 engine in a compact size. The fact that BMW also made an M Coupe version shows that they are willing to take some risks.

13. F12/13 M6 Gran Coupe


Just a beautiful car, especially the swooping M6 Gran Coupe. This M6 makes a statement: My car is worth more than your house.

12. F82 M4


What a terrible break from tradition by calling the new M3 an M4. But it doesn’t really matter because the car has the performance of an amphetamine addled sprinter. Pull a fuse to disable the engine soundtrack.

11. E28 M5


The first family car hiding a sports car inside. Honey, if we get this one we can take the kids. Not the best looking of the bunch but it grows on you. Color choices were limited to the best combination anyhow.

10. E92 M3/E90 M3/Lime Rock etc.

Coverage of Marketing production at Lime Rock PArk

The end of the regularly aspirated BMW motorsport era, and a perfect finale at that. The first and last M3 with a V8 that pulls from idle to redline. Yes it can get smoked in a straight line by a tuned 335i but for canyon carving, its a monster.

9. E82 1 Series M Coupe


Some might disagree with the ranking, but they are wrong. The 1 Series M Coupe is the spiritual successor to the E30 M3. It was also the first M car that came stock with turbos. It does kind of look like a pregnant porpoise, but that body work is purposeful.

8. E34 M5 (Euro 3.8L on down)


This was the beginning of the modern era of BMW M cars, it came stock with 300+ horses and set the bar for cars to follow. There was also a badass wagon version!

7. E24 M6


The original “shark,” this car was so plush and it encapsulated 1980s excess with an interior drenched in leather (including the roof) and the engine from the M1. Great performance and a high price tag because you get what you pay for.

6. E39 M5


The best M5 of the group, period. Yes we love the classic E28, the incredible & sell your house expensive S38B38 engine of the E34, the V10 of the E60, and the Turbo chargers in the F10. Fact remains though, the E39 with its aspirated V8 was just better than the rest.

5. E36 M3 Lightweight/Coupe/Sedan


Following up on the success of the E30 M3 was a tough act to follow but BMW rose to the occasion.

4. E46 M3 CSL


The E46 M3 is the best looking BMW ever made with awesome performance to boot. The uber rare CSL improved on the standard M3 with 270lbs less weight and carbon fiber in all the right places. Honorable mention goes to the GT, GTR, and competition package versions.

3. E30 M3 – EVO II (2.5L)/EVO 1/Europa/Johnny Cecotto etc. (don’t forget there was even an E30 M3 Vert)


To any BMW purist, the E30 M3 has got to be in the top 3 because its the most winning homologated car of all time. Game. Set. Match.

2. E9 3.0 CSL


Simply put, the batmobile that started it all and led to subsequent ///M cars. They actually made a 3.5 CSL for Group 5 racing as well.

1. E26 M1


What other car could possibly be #1? The M1 was the first BMW car to sport the M badge and the rest is history.

11 responses to “The 15 Best BMW M Cars – As voted by readers”

  1. Kaisuke971 says:

    My top 15 would be:
    15- E61 M5 Touring: S85B50 for the win and, in a Wagon ! How cool is that ?
    14- E36/7 Z3 M Roadster: S50B32 (yeah not the S54), because dat clown shoe doe
    13- E31 850CSi: A long coupe with a V12 and an M badge ! If it was a full on M would’ve been top 5 :/
    12- F06 M6 Gran Coupe: This is the best looking modern car i’ve ever seen. For real. S65Tü is nice
    11- E90 M3 CRT: Lightweight sedan, high revving V8, what do you want ?
    10- F80 M3: Lighter than its predecessor, new bonkers engine, this car is a winner !
    9- E36 M3 3.2 “Evo”: A masterpiece engine, the S50B32, and the best handling car of the 20th century
    8- E87 1M: the first successor to the M3 E30, but it lacks a really special version, a Sport Evo or CSL .
    7- E24 BMW M6: A sleek-looking Coupe, and the first “M6″… Not to mention the S38
    6- E39 M5: The sleeper sedan, with a big V8. This represents the most the ///M5 spirit in my opinion
    5- E28 M5 : This is the best M5 ever made. Hand-built, uber exclusive, and supercar-like engine. Wow.
    4- E9 3.0 CSL : Awesome looking, victorious in racing, and one hell of an engine. What a car.
    3- E46 M3 CSL : This is the one i really want. It’s not 1st just because it doesn’t have enough racing pedigree
    2- E30 M3 Sport Evo: The S14B25 is the best 4 Cylinder engine ever made by anyone. The E30 is globally known as THE car you have to own at least once in your life. This car is not good: it’s unbelievable.
    1- E26 M1: Supercar M, what else ? This car started everything. Thank you mister M1. Oh and it sells for quite a lot of dough as well

  2. jason bourne says:

    The 1M was an E82, not E87, huh?

  3. Xavier says:

    No E86 M coupe ?! –> This list is worthless

  4. Tom says:

    Isn’t the Z4 M Coupe among the fastest BMWs on the Nurburgring? The Z4 M Coupe ought to take the place of the E36/7 M Roadster.

    • Xavier says:

      I am glad someone else has the same opinion as me. Not sure it’s the E36/7 that has to leave though, it i also quite a machine !!

  5. TheIrishViking says:

    This is a debate that could continue forever I’m sure, just depends on your taste, your age and perhaps m-car/cars that reside in your garage, but i will say this, the e31 850CSi should be much higher on the list ! Is the 850csi one of the best m-cars BMW has ever produced? I certaintly think so. The base 8 series was a car without compromise in design and budget, it was a technical showcase, and features technology, that even today is still high tech. Then at the near the end of its lifespan BMW motorsport further developed it to produce the closet we will ever see to the almighty and unique M8 prototype. Although it weighed 1950kg, it had all the DNA an M car requires. Beautiful high revving naturally aspirated engine, coupled with a manual gearbox, muscular appearance, great dynamics(including its AHK rear wheel steer system), the iconic 4 stainless steel exhaust tips and topped off by a wonderful soundtrack from the V12. Like most M-cars you need to drive this one to truly appreciate it. And finally please show it the respect it deserves and put the correct picture of the car on the blog. An 850i is not an 850CSi. Owner of 1995 E31 850CSI and 2002 E39 M5. But kudos on the blog. Regards.

  6. Daniel Neal says:

    What about the M535i , the first true production M car

  7. I put over 20K miles on a 2011 M3 convertible. Before that I test drove the 335IS. Both amazing cars. I traded the M3 for an M4 convertible in November 2014. I miss my M3. I’m locked into the M4. My advice is get the M3 with the V8 and never stop smiling.

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