The folks at The Smoking Tire are on a mission to find the best car for under $25,000. The BMW E46 M3 is regarded as one of the best drivers cars of all time, and they can now be had for under $25,000. The Smoking Tire also claims the Ford Fiesta ST is the best new car you can buy for under $25,000.
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One of BMW fans’ favorite, the E46 chassis, made its debut in 2001. It was powered by the 3.2 liter S54 M-tuned engine. At the time of the car’s introduction, this engine had the highest specific output naturally aspirated of any engine ever made by BMW (except in the McLaren F1), producing 343 horsepower (256 kW) and 365 N·m (269 lb-ft). No sedan variant was offered for the E46 generation.
The E46 M3 was offered with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, but optionally came with a SMG drivelogic transmission (also known as the SMG II).
For its $22,195 base price, you’re getting a Ford Fiesta ST essentially identical to the European version, from the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to the autobahn-firm suspension tune to the single-spec Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires. It makes 197 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 214 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm. Peak power is made in “overboost” mode, when the turbo is squeezing in a maximum of 21 PSI.
So which one is a better buy?