I’ve long been a proponent of BMW’s Individual color program. Sure, Individual colors cost quite a bit more than standard paint but I’ve always felt that they’re worth the money. Not only do they improve the ownership experience but they also increase resale value a bit. Plus, if you’re gonna get a special car, get a special color. One such Individual color, that cuts through the sea of unimaginative monochromatic M cars, is Verde Mantis and it helps breath new life into the M3’s design.

This may be shocking to hear but I’m not the biggest fan of the new M3’s design. I know, I know, I’m coming out of nowhere with this news and I apologize. As shocking as the news is, it’s still true, the M3 design is a bit too funky up front for me and for countless other enthusiasts who’ve openly shared their distaste for it on social media. That being said, fitting the M3 with a genuinely great color, such as the vibrant Verde Mantis, does wonders for the car’s design.

Verde Mantis is a cool color for the BMW M3 because it looks like something that belongs on a Lamborghini Huracan, not a four-door BMW 3 Series variant. So not only does it add a ton of visual pop but it adds a layer of incongruity to the M3’s design and I do love me a bit of incongruity. The M3 is bought over the M4 usually because of the need for its added practicality. So giving it a bit of visual spice makes up for its pragmatic design.

It’s also just a nice color that works really well with the contrasting black and carbon fiber accents. During my week with the Verde Mantis M3, I found myself often staring at the car, just to admire the color. To be clear, I’ve never stared at this current M3 in admiration. Ever.

Though, I do wish my test car’s color wasn’t wasted on the standard version of the car. I may be in the vast minority of enthusiasts but I feel like the manual M3 is a drastic step down in driver enjoyment from the automatic-only M3 Competition. It might sound odd for an enthusiast to choose the automatic version over the manual but I would take the M3 Competition over the manual car every day of the week and twice on race day.

My disdain for the manual M3 is two-fold. For starters, it’s just a bad manual transmission that is more annoying to use than anything else. The clutch is infuriating at times, with the bottom third of the pedal feeling completely dead, then a ton of springy action in the middle, and another dead spot on top. It’s so much work to be consistently smooth with it and it’s exhausting. I’m not alone, either, as other colleagues complained of the same issue. Also, the shift action is both rubbery and vague. Such poor manual quality is incredibly aggravating, considering you can get excellent manuals in sub-$30,000 cars, like the Honda Civic Si and Toyota GR86. If only BMW found it worthwhile to invest in its manual.

The other reason the manual is worse is the engine. On paper, its base-model 473 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque sounds like enough. However, with the manual gearbox it feels neutered compared to the M3 Competition’s 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. In the standard car, the fun doesn’t really start until you’re near 4,000 rpm and under that it feels almost gutless. It’s just so much less enjoyable to use than brutal, almost violently fast M3 Competition.

None of that has to do with the color, though, which was excellent. During my week with it, I received several thumbs up, compliments, and intrigue from strangers. When I tested the M3 manual in Alpine White? Not a peep from anyone. Good colors are good for the soul. If you’re gonna get an M3, get an Individual color like Verde Mantis.