Everything you've read is true! BMW's E46 M3 is really a race car in street clothes. From the moment you fire it up, you know it is not your normal E46 coupe. My delivery experience at the BMW Performance Center was totally first rate! It's free and you should go if you can. Driving (their) M3 on the track gave me first hand experience of this car's true capabilities, which I'm sad to say will probably always exceed mine as a driver. Get one!
The SMG gearbox is a blast to drive, and quicker than the 6 speed. The Imola Red/Imola Red combination is stunning to look at. The interior is so well done it makes regular E46 interiors look cheap.
It wouldn't hurt to have a couple more gallons of fuel capacity for in town range. $61,735 with all options and phone/alarm/voice activation...OUCH!