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Just drove an M Coupe (archive)

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Posted by Kessler on September 28, 1998 at 14:37:27:

While stopping by my BMW dealer today at lunch time to pick up a replacement shift knob for my wife's Z3, I noticed they had two M Coupes (Estoril Blue and Boston Green) on the lot. Not in a hurry to get back to the office (after the gloomy weather of hurricane Georges all weekend, the sunshine felt good!), I decided to take a closer look.

The jury is still out on the styling. They definitely look better in person than in photo's. There are still some angles that I consider less than flattering, but some would say the same about my 911 :-) The interior, as one would expect, feels just about like an M Roadster with the top up until you look behind you. However, it was surprisingly dark inside, I guess due to extremely heavy tint on the glass sunroof and the length of the roof. I'd strongly recommend one of the light interior colors, unless you like things dark. The cargo area is cavernous compared to the Z3's trunk.

Never one to turn down a test drive opportunity, the salesman and I hopped in and took it for a spin. Acceleration is good, though launching from a stop without wheelspin is a challenge. Braking is excellent, though I'd prefer a slightly harder pedal. Steering is precise but a little numb and way too light (keep in mind though, that I'm used to lots of bump steer and no power assist). I like the three spoke M steering wheel a lot better than the four spoke in my 911 or my wife's 2.8l (I've been debating replacing the 911's stock wheel with a Dino, and now I am convinced it is definitely the right thing to do). Cornering is where the M Coupe really shines. The talk of this chassis being far stiffer than the roadster is much more than just marketing hype. In tight corners on imperfect surfaces, the chassis feels much more solid and the rear suspension in particular feels much more composed than the somewhat nervous rear of the roadster. The changes to the rear trailing arms can't possibly account for the magnitude of the difference, so I have to attribute some of this to the stiffer chassis. The rear still doesn't plant quite as well powering out of corners as my 911, but for a front engine car, it feels great.

All in all, the M Coupe is a lot of fun to drive. I have to say I was a little disappointed (as was the salesman who seemed to be enjoying the ride) when I had to call it quits and go back to the office. If I had to choose between the Coupe and the Roadster, it would be a though call. The Roadster, with its better looks and soft top is more fun as a daily driver, but at the track the Coupe would be a much better choice. Fortunately, I don't have to make that decision, but for those of you who might, I hope this info helps :-). Those of you who aren't seriously considering a Coupe owe yourself a test drive so you can explore the differences.

-Dave Kessler

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