The lower grill opening makes the car look like those silly smiling cartoon cars on the Chevron station posters, to me. I also don't get the side grill thingies, what's that got to do with the 3 series? On the Z8 and Z3 it has a historical relevance, to stick them on the 3 series is just marketing crap.
Then there is that hump in the hood.... for an in-line 6? If it had the V8, I could dig it, but it's just cosmetics for cosmetics sake on this car. The rear spoiler is Ok, so are the wheels, and the 18" 255 rear rubber, and larger fender flares are certainly nice, as long as the wheel/tire setup fills them up.
Overall, it appears to me the marketing geeks got to the design department, with comments from E36 customers who felt the E36 M3 wasn't "different" enough from the standard 328i car. The result is, they gagged up the already sexy E46 body, to get the desired "deffierentiation" they think was needed.
Just doesn't seem to be BMW to me. Making humps on hoods, adding out-of-context gills, and big goofy grills, just to add esthetic differentiation. Since when do they play that game?
Then we have this new 340hp motor, producing just 10 ft lbs more than the E36 motor. Peak power is at 7800rpm! Yowsah. And the 0-62 time is essentially the same as the E36 (1/10th improvement). Personally, I like motors that rip, but I don't want to have to zing it that high every time I want the juice.
So, it's going to be really interesting to see. My guess is, it'll get ripped and raved, cause it's a BMW. I can't wait to drive one, but it's looking less apealing to me by the minute....
Good case for BMW to keep the M coupe in play, to pick up on those who don't buy into the M3 sell, who just want down and dirty performance, without all the glam gadgetry, or wouldn't be caught dead in anything with a back seat!