Among many things M purists point out is that the M3 started out life as a coupe, not a sedan. So E36, E90, F80 and G80 friends, this post isn’t about you. It’s about what has become the BMW G82 M4 Coupe. Every M3 has been available as a coupe, but let’s be fair here. To get in on this shoot (you can see more photos here), you needed to have at least 400 horses, iDrive, and the dimensions that come with adding many airbags and sensors. I’ve driven them all extensively, and I’m here to tell you which one is the best. Hint: It has an M in the name.
The BMW E92 M3 Coupe
FOR: Exhaust note of 1,000 angels singing in unison, best steering feel, still a looker, still capable.
AGAINST: Getting old, dated iDrive, a bit sloppy in feel compared to the more modern M4s, makes the gas station attendant your best friend.
There are a few things we should get out of the way – this car sounds the best. It probably always will, and aside from the V10 in the E60 M5 (of which this is V8 based off of), it might be the best-sounding BMW ever made. It’s also the most tame-looking in this bunch, and that’s either a good or bad thing depending on how you like your M3. This particular model is a 2008, so it’s got pre-LCI tail lights and an original iDrive knob and graphics. I also never thought this car would look small, but next to the G82, it does.
All three of these cars are docile at low speeds, but the E92 suffers the most from a case of dual personalities. You can either have a very normal 3 Series, or a ride on a roller coaster if you dare floor the throttle. I wish I could tell you that the ZCP Comp package transforms the car, but it doesn’t. My ZCP would get a tiny bit stiffer than this base car in sport mode, but the remapped MDM mode is something you’ll never feel unless your name rhymes with Lewis Lamilton.
Shifter throws are longer than in either M4, and the clutch is heavier. But this car has the best steering feel. That’s thanks to the only hydraulic rack of the bunch. When the E92 first came out, some called the steering vague, but in comparison to newer BMWs, it allows much more feedback through the column and lets you to feel the car’s limits much better.
Behind the wheel, you sit tall. It feels like you’re on the seats, not in them. Some BMW hallmarks are here. Tall windows are easy to see out of. The back seat is spacious. The quality of the interior is better than the F82, but both lag behind the new M4 by a significant margin. Ergonomics are top notch. You can get in any of these and within a few minutes, feel comfortable driving them fast.
Sadly, these cars are not getting any younger, and it suffers from more body roll and a chassis that’s no where near as rigid as the newer offerings. The release of the G82 has pushed this car into “classic” status, and jumping from one to the other feels like going from the space shuttle to an X-Wing.
Gas mileage might not be something an enthusiast worries about, but with only a 16 gallon tank, the E92 needs frequent fill-ups, especially if you love to rev. Newer M4s are longer-legged. The S65 is always going to be the star here, so buy one if you like to DRIVE, and be prepared to push the car to get the most out of it.
The F82 BMW M4 Competition Coupe
AGAINST: Poor interior quality, always reminding you that you are about that Motorsport life, lifeless steering.
The gap in capability between the E92 and F82 is much larger than the F and G cars. This 2018, in fetching Verde Mantis Green (a Lambo color) is the sleekest of the three by far, and dare I saw the best looking. LCI head- and taillights have kept the design looking fresh.
This car works the best on a track. It’s loud, raucous, and raw. The exhaust booms on every upshift, but if the S65 is Kenny G, this is Metallica. Great for a few hours, but could you live with them every day? As has been mentioned many times, the steering provides no feedback, even at higher speeds.
Many things do work. Torque is always on tap in this car, and it’s fast. Much more so than the E92. The DCT has sharper shifts than the newer automatic trans in the G82, and the brakes resist fade well on the track. You don’t have to push this like the older M3, but if you do you’ll easily be beyond legal speeds.
This is a much more rigid car than the E92, and it’s better for it. Turn-in response is much sharper, and it feels much more athletic. While attention had to be paid to the S65 to make sure you’re high enough in the rev counter, this car has no such need. The S55 is a gem in its own right.
I find the interior to be much more comfortable than the E92 as well. The seats are more supportive, the ergonomics slightly better. The steering wheel shape is also both nicer to look at and easier to grip. But the materials aren’t as nice. The new G82 M4 is much improved in this regard.
While this has been a great M car, only time will tell if it’s thought of as one of the best. If you’re not attached to yours, I say go and test drive…
The BMW G82 M4 Competition Coupe
FOR: Performance, comfort, best of both worlds.
AGAINST: So capable you’ll need an airport runway with every purchase.
The first thing you notice is that this is a big car, and it feels big behind the wheel. I mentioned a mini M5 in my original review, so consider this a mini M8. It combines the best of the previous generations into one car. The car itself is much more refined. It’s quieter inside, with subdued exhaust notes and tire roar. If the E92 needed a push to feel like an M, and the F82 M4 always felt like one, this car splits the difference nicely.
I’ll spare you the carbon fiber seat speech – if you like the look, try them out yourself. The base seats are comfortable and look great, a mix between those carbon buckets and the F82’s.
The automatic has been great in any BMW, even my 335i. It’s always responsive and does what you ask RIGHT NOW. But compared to the DCT, there is a layer of smoothness that wasn’t there before. It’s good and bad, depending on your preference. It’ll be interesting to see how the M4 changes when M xDrive becomes an option.
If you think the car is soft, you must always pay attention here as in older Ms. It’s deceivingly fast. The sensation of holding it on a leash is there, least you stab the throttle and hit warp speed. Steering feel has returned in comparison to the F82, but its still not as alive as I’d like. Turn-in response is immediate. Pick a corner, aim the nose and the car is glued to its position.
The chassis itself is the best yet. An M3 has a certain gravitas about it. When driving, you can feel the car underneath you. The G82 is no different. There is an immediateness to the car if you want to use it, but you can relax in it as well. I always wished I could drive my old 328 every day and have a button that could turn it into my E92. This G82 M4 feels like BMW has accomplished that.
As none of the G cars I have driven have been broken it, I’ll reserve final judgement on the performance portion until I can break in my own G80 in the coming months.
There is no wrong answer here. A car, especially an M, is an emotional purchase, and one will speak to you more than others. I encourage you to get in a car, grab the wheel and give it a try!
Special thanks to Scott in his E92 (@motion732), Nicole in her F82 (@e30Nicole), and Circle BMW in Eatontown, NJ for bringing along a fresh G82 M4!