Thursday, April 17, 2008

BMW's M3

The latest version BMW's M3 hascontinues the tradition revered as the ultimate M car.
The BMW M3 can be considered same as supercars to high performance saloons, coupes and estates.Really, it's one of those rounded performance machines that has the unusual ability to blend day-to-day driveability with manic, supercar chasing performance when the mood takes you. The cars will tell you that it sees the Porsche Carrera 2 as a M3 alternative, but it's just as
likely that buyers will consider the C 63 AMG from Mercedes, or, if they're a bit more adventurous, the Lexus IS F. Driven in Coupé form here the M3 is also offered in Saloon and
Convertible guises, but this one is the purist's choice.

The BMW M3 is very fast, capable of covering the 0-62mph sprint in 4.8 seconds. If anything that time feels conservative, the impression of the M3's acceleration intensified by the glorious
noise the V8 makes when its reaching for its insanely high 8,500rpm red line. The fidgety rear also reminds you of just how hard the tyres and electronics are working to put all that power onto the road. It's an intense driving experience that's quite unlike anything else for the money. The MDrive Manager allows the M3's numerous settings to be individually tweaked to turn the
M3 from a relative puritan to a downright hooligan. For road use we liked it somewhere in between.The M button on the steering wheel is really useful, it allowing you to choose yourpredetermined set up in one simple push - useful when you find a particularly enjoyable stretch of road, or just want the quicker throttle response when going to overtake. Some have criticised the 4.0-litre V8 for being short on torque down low, but we were rarely left wanting for urgency from any engine speed. If only the gearchange were better it'd be more enjoyable reaching for the M3's high rev antics - the shift quality not being as precise and quick as it could be. The steering too, while nicely weighty, is rather inert, lacking the sort of fine communication that would make the M3 even more enjoyable.
Being based on a regular 3 Series Coupé, the M3 is a genuinely practical car. The rear seats are useable for short passengers or taller ones on brief journeys, while the boot is a decent size too.
Although 75% of the body is different to the regular Coupé, even with its flared arches, power-domed bonnet, deeper front and rear bumpers and carbon-fibre roof the M3 doesn't look too obvious, either. Not quite a Q car in the strictest sense, but if you pick the right colour it's discrete enough to slip by unnoticed. But it's the engine that's key to the M3's appeal. It might be a rev-hungry V8 with its peak power delivered at a heady 8,300rpm but it's also remarkably tractable at low revs and fast anywhere. It also sounds absolutely glorious.

You pay heavily for the V8 M3's performance with rather painful fuel consumption. BMW quotes a combined consumption figure of 22.8mpg, and although that's achievable, you'll need to be very light of foot and doing lots of easy, middling speed motorway miles. Use the M3 as it was designed and fuel consumption in the teens is easily possible, which, even with the performance on offer, is pretty difficult to stomach. Add a relatively small fuel tank and you'll get used to the sight of petrol station forecourts. The steering just isn't feelsome enough either, and unless you're punching through the gears hastily the six-speeder can be a bit reluctant to shift smoothly. You need to be careful with it in the wet too, as even with the electronics all on it's easy to get that rear out of shape. BMW's iDrive controller covers everything from entertainment, communications and the car systems but remains as frustrating as ever - even the additional favourite buttons haven't made it any easier to live with.

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