The M3 is back. It looks gorgeous, is as quick as mustard and has had
its chassis honed at the Nurburgring. The car on which BMW has earned
its reputation as a manufacturer of perfectly tuned driving machines has
There can be no argument with the performance figures of the new car,
which make it the most accelerative M-car ever, quicker even than the
new M5. Naturally top speed is restricted to 155mph, and the 0-62mph
dash is achieved in 5.2 seconds, 0.1 seconds quicker than the Evo.
Its chassis is naturally enough based on the E46 Coupé, but detail
changes mean little of the donor car remains intact. Motorsport springs
and dampers replace the standard items at either end, while front and
rear anti-roll bars are substituted for thicker ones.
While the E36 M3 was criticised for looking too similar to the rest of
the coupé range, the new car has an altogether more muscular set of
clothes, and it looks virtually identical to the silver show car BMW
revealed at the 1999 Frankfurt show.
Going by current M-car form, this new M3 should be a brilliant drive. If
the company lost its way somewhat with the E36 M3, its latest releases,
the M5 and Z8, have seen a return to more entertaining, accessible cars.
Accessible to the well heeled that is. When it finally reaches these
shores early next year, the M3 will sell for close to £45,000. If it
drives as well as an E30, it will be worth every penny.
Engine Six-cylinder, 24v, 9J x 18-inch
Power 343bhp @ 7900rpm
Torque 269lb ft @ 4900rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual