by: Mike Ginsca
Power, comfort, and looks. The BMW M3 offers all of these and more as the ultimate sports car for the driving enthusiast.
Performance – Let me take you through the short list. 4.0L V8, 420 hp, 6-speed manual transmission, limited slip differential, Electronic Damping Control, and a button that says “Power” on it. Just because this version of the M3 (unlike the previous) now comes with a big V8 doesn’t mean that it’s a muscle car. In fact below 3000 rpm, it sounds like an inline 6 engine. However above that 3000 rpm threshold, the bruiting V8 starts to clear its throat and howls to a redline of 8400 rpm. But even at higher rpms it still can’t be considered a muscle car because almost all muscle cars develop loads of torque and power at very low rpms, this one doesn’t. I wouldn’t say that all the power is at the top end but it feels like it has “just enough” power depending on where the tachometer needle is in the rev range. So what that means is that as the car accelerates out of a corner, the traction control doesn’t have to interfere and the tires have just enough grip without losing traction. The manual gear box is smooth but precise when you’re swapping gears and to my surprise the clutch is very light considering it has to hold back 420 horses from a V8… I was expecting to have a sore left leg when I got out of the car but it didn’t happen.
In terms of handling it is one of, if not, the best in the sports car category. The steering is perfectly weighted and responsive during aggressive driving but just light enough at slower speeds when you’re in a parking lot looking for a place to park so that it doesn’t wear your arms out. The suspension can be adjusted to your liking through the Electronic Damping Control button next to the shifter. On its softest setting it feels like you’re driving a big sedan, in its hardest setting I wouldn’t say it’s like driving a race car but more like a sports car with aftermarket racing coilovers. With the EDC button, it’s as though this car has 2 distinct personalities. The first being a comfortable GT cruiser and at a push of a button it becomes a canyon carving sports car.
Comfort – The interior of this E93 generation M3 has been greatly improved of the previous generation. The M sport bucket seats provide amazing comfort on long distance drives and once you adjust them to your liking, the seats are also decently supportive when you take the M3 on a race track. In the back there is actually an adequate amount of room for passengers which is almost unheard of in a sports convertible. The controls for the heater, A/C, heated seats, and radio are simple to understand and use but the iDrive system is still just as complicated as when BMW first introduced it. As stated earlier, the car can be set up for your particular needs and comfort level. The EDC system adjusts the suspension, the steering weight can be adjusted, the throttle response is adjustable for quick response or more fuel economical driving, and you can even select how much power the engine should develop.
Odds and Ends – What else is there to be said about this car? It has a hardtop roof that opens in around 20 seconds, it has rear park distance control, Navigation that’s easier to understand than iDrive, the styling doesn’t stand out but BMW enthusiasts will know that you’re driving an M3 and will think that it’s cool, it’s all around the perfect everyday and track ready car.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.