By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/1/2011
BMW's original M3 high-performance compact coupe was created in 1986 as a road-going version of its 3 Series-based German Touring Car Championship race car, and it arrived Stateside two years later. Powered by a pumped-up 192-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, it quickly carved a reputation as the ultimate performance iteration of BMW's iconic 3 Series. Second- and third-generation M3s packed six-cylinder engines, the latest (2006) model boasting 333 horsepower. The 2010 fourth-generation M3 moves up to a high-revving 4.0-liter V8 with 414 horsepower under its domed and vented hood. While we love Mercedes-Benz's C63 and Cadillac's Corvette-powered CTS-V, BMW's M3 compact muscle machine remains the gold standard of this rare, expensive and exhilarating class of car.
If you are already a BMW 3 Series or M3 enthusiast, this 2010 M3 is easily the best yet. If its hefty sticker is within your reach, you'll delight in its raw performance, racer-like handling, sophisticated electronic features and, yes, its long-established and well-deserved king-of-the-hill reputation.You May Not Like This Car If... What's New for 2010 Driving It Driving Impressions
The M3 is terrific fun on a race track and nearly as much when driven sanely on public roads. If you enter a turn a bit too fast it remains predictable, the steering tracks precisely and the big brakes provide remarkable fade-resistance, even during sustained hard driving. The race-bred V8 hits its amazing 8,400-rpm redline almost too quickly in the lower gears before its throttle shuts off to prevent over-revving; but shift before it reaches that point, however, and the M3 can rocket from rest to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and on to a computer-limited top speed of 155 mph. You won't often be able to safely use all this exhilarating performance on the road, but just knowing it's there will make you smile.Favorite Features
Dynamic Stability Control
Selectively applies brakes and reduces power when needed to maintain stability but can be switched off. Its Start-Off Assistant prevents roll-back when launching on a hill, Cornering Brake Control stabilizes when braking in a curve and brake pre-loading builds up instant pressure when it senses an emergency stop may be imminent.
Optional M Double-clutch Transmission with Drivelogic
This seven-speed gearbox operates like two separate transmissions handing off to each other from ratio to ratio. There's no clutch pedal but 11 shift programs (five automatic, six manual), and it can be shifted on the fly with the throttle on the floor (no interruption of power) through either its shift lever or steering wheel paddles.