This film is the third part of a five part series about the most successful model of BMW M – the M3. Today, BMW features the iconic E46 M3 on their Youtube channel. The E46 M3 came with a 3.2 liter inline-six engine developing 333 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. It could hit 0-60 in 5.1 seconds and had an electronically controlled top speed of 155 mph. The inline-six in the E46 M3 is one of the better one’s BMW ever made. With its Double VANOS variable valve timing and 7,900 rpm redline, the 3.2 liter screams through the rev range with smooth and linear power. It also makes a fantastic sound doing it.
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The E46 M3 handles fantastic and is considered one of the better handling sports cars of all time. The E46 M3 was available with a 6-Speed manual only, up until BMW released it with their SMG gearbox. Where the previous two M3s were fun, the E46 was an all-out hooligan. A truly fantastic car, and one everyone should drive before they die.
The E46 M3 was the first M model with the characteristic BMW M side air vent. Despite being almost a decade old now, the E46 is still one of the better looking BMWs of all time. It has muscular wheel arches, the right stance and a great profile. It’s simple yet exciting and elegant yet aggressive. Easily the best looking car in the segment at the time. It’s also a timeless design and will look good for many, many years to come, even though it’s already quite old.
Legendary is also the BMW M3 CSL with its power and lightweight construction. Much like the 3.0 CSL, the M3 CSL is a lightweight, stripped out, hardcore version of the standard car. It also gets a power bump to its 3.2 liter straight-six engine, to the tune of 360 hp. That horsepower figure may not sound like a lot by today’s standards, but considering the CSL weighs in at around 3,053 lbs (240 lbs less than the standard M3), it’s more than enough to turn the CSL into a rocket. The CSL is also fitted with BMW’s SMG (sequential manual gearbox) of the time, and while it isn’t the smoothest unit ever made, it allows for lightning quick shifts. This allows the M3 CSL to hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.
All in all, the E46 is one of the best bargain performance cars money can buy. You can find one in almost any body/color/gearbox combination you can think of, they aren’t that expensive and they’re amazing to drive. Plus they look great, hold their value well, are reasonably practical and comfortable as well.