By KBB.com Editors
Atop a platform that essentially defines "sport sedan," BMW takes all that is good in its road-going 3 Series and asks the question: Why should racecars be confined to racetracks? And with the extensive mods made to the 3 Series Coupe, Convertible and (once again) Sedan to create the "M" derivatives of same, they needn't be. Out goes the in-line six - itself capable of 320 horsepower - and in goes one of the world's most delicious V8s. Boasting 414 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque and a $1,300 gas guzzler tax, today's M3 builds on a quarter century of high performance history and - once again - delivers the "shizzle" (German exclamation of uncertain origin) to its own, hyper performance category.
Any iteration of the M3 is - at least in today's automotive spectrum - truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. With performance that borders on the supercar descriptive, in a subtle color - and to the vast majority of the population - the M3 isn't all that distinguishable from the 328. And if you don't possess a law degree - or a close relative with a law degree - not gaining undue attention while going fast is an extremely good strategy.
If subtle isn't exactly your thing, any number of alternatives competitive with the M3's price point ($60,000) would most certainly attract more attention. The Cayman comes to mind, as does Cadillac's CTS-V, Nissan's GT-R and the Lexus IS-F. All are worth a test drive, but will ultimately not deliver the M3's carefully constructed balance of performance, quality and already-iconic stature.
New standard features include Auto Stop Start, automatically stopping the engine when the transmission is placed in neutral and the clutch is released. The engine starts immediately upon depression of the clutch. Manual sport seats are available on the coupe and sedan, saving weight and simplifying long-term maintenance. Option packages - Premium, Cold Weather and Convenience - are remixed.
Driving Impressions There are few things capable of carrying a driver and three passengers which will deliver the unfiltered fun of BMW's M3. Beginning with one of the best production platforms in...the business, BMW's M team adds to or massages virtually every area of the drivetrain, suspension and structure. Steering is precise, and big brakes provide fade-free usage at any speed, and for virtually any period of repeated stopping. For those preferring we summarize numerically: 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 155.
For $2,500 (on a BMW option sheet, little more than chump change) you can imbue your M Coupe or Sedan with all of the goodness Munich ever intended. It is wider wheels, lowered suspension and enhanced poise added to a platform that is already on the cusp of an automotive nirvana. Passengers should wear earmuffs and blindfolds.
Performance Center Delivery
Show up in Greenville, South Carolina, receive track instruction in a similarly-spec'd M3, and head home in your new BMW boasting a newfound combination of pride and passion. BMW isn't the first to combine track instruction with delivery, but they're one of the few marques making it so accessible. Greenville, to be sure, isn't the Nurburgring, but is so much more accessible to an Interstate.
Regardless of how you decorate it (and there are numerous choices in leather and trim), the M3 driver's cabin is just that - a place for a pilot and (up to) three passengers. Both coupe and convertible are rated by the EPA as subcompacts, and there's a reason for that: Those with big luggage or big families need not apply. The M3 is arguably BMW's most driver-oriented vehicle (check out the M Drive button now mounted on the steering wheel...), and isn't for the poseur - although we're sure that class makes up an increasing number of buyers. Front seats are ultra-supportive, which speaks well to the target demographic; young, affluent and hyper-active. Convertibles are often relegated to recreational duty on weekends, with the top - depending on regional climates - rarely raised, while the M3 Sedan provides a sweet spot in family mobility.Exterior
BMW's M3 is, in a word, planted, sitting low and almost rakish on its four large alloys. The front fender gills remain, as do - in the rear - the prominent exhaust outlets. The front fascia is more aggressive - and its air intake more expansive - than the standard 3 Series, and the hood is domed, but general proportions mimic those of its more attainable brethren. We especially like its side skirts, which add immeasurably to its profile.
In today's M3 everything in or on the car is notable. We'd point to BMW's almost compulsive effort to reduce weight, beginning with lightweight components sprinkled throughout the unit body and suspension, and topped with a carbon-fiber-reinforced roof. It's also worth noting that this is the M3's first V8; the model started with a high-revving 2.3 liter four (in 1988 for North America), and was succeeded by two different in-line sixes. Transmitting the V8's prodigious power to the rear wheels is a 6-speed manual transmission, a (regrettably) rare spec even on performance coupes, and almost impossible to find on most competitive (as if...) 4-door sedans.
With the beginning of the 2011 model year, the M3 Coupe and Sedan are now available with a Competition Package. For $2,500 the buyer receives a 10mm lower suspension and 19-inch wheels (with greater offset for a widened track). In combination with reprogrammed electronic damping control and DSC systems, BMW claims this to be the "best handling" M-Series ever built. For the more visual, Mineral White Metallic has been made available on the M3 Coupe and Convertible.
As noted, this is BMW's first foray with V8 power in the M3. Don't, however, be alarmed; this isn't Dodge's Challenger. The BMW edict of lightness and balance remain intact. The light-alloy 32-valve DOHC V8 is compact, and delivers 414 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque with the fluidity of an electric drivetrain. Despite upping the piston count by a third and providing 25 percent more displacement, the V8 weighs seven percent less than its in-line six predecessor. Mated to either the standard manual 6-speed or available 7-speed double-clutch gearbox, there is absolutely no interruption in the flow of power, all the way to the V8's 8,400 rpm redline. And with the optional double clutch with Drive Logic, eleven different shift programs - five automatic and six manual - are designed to suit the needs of individual drivers and any driving situation.
414 horsepower @ 8300 rpm
295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (sedan and coupe, convertible with automatic), 13/20 (convertible, manual)
By Mike on Saturday, February 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,260overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Outstanding car, handles superbly in all situation"
Cons: "Expensive and gas guzzler"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Love the M3, have the 2013 Frozen Blue Edition, MDCT transmission, carbon fiber accents, Novello leather,,all options. The last of the naturally aspirated V-8s. On the autobahn got the M3 to 175mph and the Nurburgring handling was exceptional. Driving normally 80mph, returned 24.5 mpg, not bad for a V-8, but do wish 7th gear was more tuned to road (lower rpm, better mileage), not too impressed with the MDCT as I came from a 911 Porsche PDK (7spd auto) and the mpg @75mph was 30.5 mpg. Overall a great car that could be better!"
By Jimmy on Friday, January 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great fun great handling beautiful, convertible an"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've been driving bmw m3's since 1995. This 08 convertible m3 has been the best and most reliable. My only complaint is the extra weight of the convertible. My other ones were hardtops. Almost six years later and I'm still in love with it. I am however interested in the new m4 or a 911 carrera s. If I could I would keep it and buy the new car as well. The burble of that v8 with a six speed manual is intoxicating."
By Mike on Monday, December 17, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,530overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent driving dynamics"
Cons: "Fuel consumption is not great; I average 19.5 mpg."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Having owned various cars before from Fords and Chevys to Cadillac, and rented a multitude of cars while on business travel, the BMWs have always been the most gas/power efficient and best driving dynamics among all I've driven. In particular the E92 M3 is so much better than the E92 335i that I owned. Specifically, the M3 suspension is better tuned, it doesn't bottom out over speed bumps at the same speeds and not as twitchy. I would recommend anyone to seriously drive a new or used M3 and compare the driving dynamics over smooth or rough roads and on straight and curvy roads and you'll really feel the difference! The 2010 M3 coupe, which I have has only one fault: Fuel consumption is not great; I average 19.5 mpg combined city/highway."
17 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By terpslacrosse on Sunday, November 04, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks, power, handling"
Cons: "Expensive but worth it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car is everything that BMW advertises. The combination of power and handling is phenomenal. This is a warm weather car. It is a little slippery when it gets under 40 degrees. This will probably be the last V8 M3 - drive one if you get a chance."
9 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Rndm on Sunday, October 07, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fast comfortable, special enough for the money"
Cons: "Lighten, needs better brakes for perf"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have owned a number of BMWs and this is my favorite yet. I picked it up in Munich and was able to take it on the Autobahn to the Nordschleife and it performed well as a comfortable GT as well as an engaging track car. Since the M3's arrival in the States it has been: * more reliable than any of my past BMWs including a newer car in the stable * a comfortable commuter * a responsive track car - that one can truly drive (turning off some electronic 'nannies') * it looks elegantly fast without being over-the-top * it is a 'heritage' car. M3 = Motorsport history as well as current DTM and ALMS * if you spec it out, it does feel more special than the production volumes suggest - for e.g. I have extended leather - love it. The E92 M3 is also not an obviously quick car: I like its understatedness. If you want to be 'seen', then this is not your sled (see GT-R et al). Negatives? * the 6MT could be a more fluid on the lower gears * yes, the wonderful high-rev V8 does need to be 'worked' - this is not an effortlessly fast car, ie, more torque would be a boon (solution is available as a supercharger) * the brakes are good, not great, relative to the rest of the car's abilities - 6-piston calipers next time, please BMW (ie a Brembo-like GT design) * first and last NA V8 in an M3 - guess that's a plus then! ;-) Great car but I think my next will be a 991 CS2: it will still be NA."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By T Kang on Saturday, August 18, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,299overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ultimate Driving Machine!!!!"
Cons: "None really, but she's has a thirsty V8."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased my '08 M3 with 4500 miles on it in 2009. I've loved every minute of driving it. Service experience with BMW is second to none. Car looks, sounds, smells, drives everything great. They really do make the ultimate driving machine!!! I have terrific brand loyalty for BMW, now just wishing that they made even higher end cars ala what Audi did with the R8."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful