London has been one of the first cities around the world to impose an access tax in certain areas, in an effort to curb emissions and harmful pollutants coming from passenger cars. London is known for having terrible traffic and therefore such a measure was aimed at limiting the number of cars entering certain areas. Now, the mayor decided to extend the Ultra-Low-Emissions Zone and that brought forward issues for locals, especially those owning older cars. However, if you drive a BMW E46 M3, you’re good to go.
Somehow, the legislators decided to create a very mixed legal setup, that allows even 20-year old cars to drive through the new ULEZ and yet others, much newer, are excluded. Exemptions include any vehicle more than 40 years old or any modern vehicle with official emissions below a certain level – for petrol-powered cars, that’s anything post-Euro 4, and for diesels, it’s post-Euro 6. Euro 4 became a legal requirement in 2005, which means that a large number of modern classics actually remain ULEZ exempt.
However, there are some interesting modern classics that are sidestepping the ULEZ charge (which is £12.50 per day) and that includes the E46 M3. That’s mainly because the M3 adheres to the Euro4 emissions standard even though it was built before it became mandatory. That goes to show that BMW took such things into account long before everyone starting talking about this topic. It’s quite amazing how a 3.2-liter straight six engine focused solely on performance, could also be quite clean compared to the rest of the models on sale back then.
Other such exceptions are the first-generation Audi TT, the Bentley Continental GT with its 6-liter W12 engine, the X350 Jaguar XJ, all MINI models and the Smart models from back in the day. In all fairness, considering how small their engines are anyway, that shouldn’t be a surprise.