Let me start by stating that I have owned this car for quite some time and still have trouble wiping the smile off my face when I drive it!! This is my 2nd M3. My first was a 97 estorel blue 5 speed. Although it was a wonderful car, it is a Honda Civic in every comparison except handling compared to current. I have never driven a car with such a wide power band. If you are anything above idle, you are flying. The car has amazing "pull" in every gear. Where I live in Fl we have a nice mix of city and highway driving which I enjoy daily. There is no playing field where this car is shy or timid.
I only have one complaint. The tires are ridiculous. I drive almost 20K miles a year and have to replace them about every 8-10 months. Kind of a pain at $400 a piece. That's what you get with a 333hp rocket I guess.
Such an awesome car, especially in Laguna Seca Blue. Handling is superb and for the performance a 19-22 overall MPG is pretty good. LOVE LOVE the car. It turns heads everywhere and gets compliments on the color at least once a week. However, the car has been to the shop more than 20X since I bought it. Everything has gone wrong with this car. The biggest problems were the CAT failed ($2000) and also the rear subframe cracked ($1700). The interior is also cheap and the tranny doesn't seem to fit the car, long strokes, clunky, and is not smooth. But that engine and stance makes it worth it... I think. :)
Got mine used w/ 49k mi on it. Would not buy brand new - not worth 55k+ (w/options). The car is very well-balanced in terms of power, handling, comfort, and luxury (mine is loaded - heated seats, nav, park sensors, etc.). Don't worry about all this rod bearing talk - it's a RECALL! (ie. get it done for free) and you wont have to worry because it will have new warranty (motor ONLY). The disappointment is the trans/differential. Gearbox is inconsistent - sometimes it's fine but othertimes it grinds from 1-2 at slow speeds. The diff is noticably clunky w/excessive lash-feels like it will fail. Maybe the newer car owners don't feel it but after the car hits 50k be aware. The warranty ends.
Cornering ability - very stable through the turns will on the throttle. Looks - very classy and sporty. Torque - very good on highway for passing. Gearshift has very light throw (when its not grinding). I've always admired this car before I got one. But after a year, I thought the build quality should be better.
Interior headliner trim falls off (on $50k car!?). The drive-by wire throttle has lag on tip-in making slow driving jerky if you're not perfect. The gearbox can 'crunch or grind' and differential feels too loose and clunky. Nav is a pain to use - hope for a touch screen.
The current M3 is a dream for a performance car enthusiast. With few exceptions, it will bury the competition with always blistering accelleration and it will stop in a heartbeat. Handling is second to none, as might be expected with a chassis and mechanics tuned for the Nurburgring. Where else can you buy a world class, track-ready sport coupe that will also seat 4 comfortably - with luggage. Fit, finish and quality of materials is second to none. BMW - form does follow function.
SMG transmission. Takes a while to get comfortable with and there are a couple of "give-ups" compared to a manual gearbox. But, the options are endless and lots of fun. I doubt there is a pro driver who can outshift the computer, and automatic double- clutching is amazing.
Somehow - a little more storage in the cockpit area please.