2002 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

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2002 BMW M3: Three Things I Love, Three Things I Don't.

June 25, 2009

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Last night, I had a choice of either the new M3 or the old M3 to take home. I took the latter, which no doubt has some of you scratching your heads. You see, the old M3 will be going away soon and as I haven't driven it in a while, figured I better get time in it while I can. Even though it was just for my traffic-filled six mile commute, it was worth it -- this morning I let it sing on the wide-open on-ramp to the 10 trapped-way. Of course, one last dance through the canyons is on the docket too. So yeah, I like it that much. Dare I say, I'm as smitten with this car as Mr. Sadlier.

Herewith are the 3 things I love and, uhhh, don't love about the car:

Love:
1) Silken, muscular and free-revving 333-hp inline six.

2) Multi-adjustable sport seats that are comfortable on long trips and supportive on canyon runs.

3) The look and stance of the car. Seriously people, the E46 is the highwater mark of 3-series styling.

No Love:
1) No 'off' button for the climate control -- you have to repeatedly hit the fan's 'down' button to shut it off.

2) The cheap plastic trim near the parking brake and cup holders that looks like hell thanks to its easily-scratched up nature.

3) Exhaust note. Sounds tinny and wimpy compared to the hearty engine note.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 72,880 miles.

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2002 BMW M3: Hot or Cold?

June 01, 2009

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See this little knob between the M3's center dashboard vents? It controls the air temperature coming out of those vents and the two outer vents by the doors. And it does so with authority over the enitre automatic climate control system. Why this is silly after the jump...

Dialing this little knob to full hot or full cold will give you exactly that regardless of what the rest of the system is trying do. This is a great thing if, say, you like your feet to be 90 degress and your hands to be 60 degrees. But, overall, it's cumbersome, unnecessary and, oftentimes, confusing.

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2002 BMW M3: I Heart the M3. Again.

May 20, 2009

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Having driven the 2002 BMW M3 for the weekend, I should've written this blog post on Monday, but I was dragging my feet, fearful of the Bavarian Backlash after I admitted I was so totally over the coupe.

But this morning a great thing happened. I took the M3 out to run a quick errand and turns out, I do like the car. It was my crappy weekend full of mindless errands that was annoying, not the M3 coupe's lack of rear doors or updated nav system. In fact, it wasn't the M3's fault at all that my kid was invited to two birthday parties in the same afternoon (one pool, one beach) that had her climbing in and out of the back seat, trailing wet towels and sand over my seat back as I ferried her from one group of shrieking girls to the next.

Once back in the M3 this morning BY MYSELF, the BMW and I had a perfectly lovely drive together.

Although it did make me promise to take home an SUV or a minivan this weekend instead.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 71,820 miles

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2002 BMW M3: The Feel of the Wheel

February 17, 2009

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By now, y'all know the M3's performance can be more thrilling than a ride at Six Flags. And that the sweet noises the engine makes when it's on the boil are enough to cause unmitigated lust (see Sadlier's last post). Yeah, you can count me among the M3 fanboys. But one part of the M3 that strikes me as another thing they got spot on is, to paraphrase the words of the Rolling Stones, under my thumb(s).

I've already waxed poetic about the great seats. Now, I'm talking about the steering wheel. A just-right diameter, a thick rim (but not ridiculously so, such as on the newer M coupe), perfectly-placed "9 and 3" spokes with thumb reliefs and even the M-specific red and blue stitching add to the sporty tactile experience that reminds you that you're piloting something special.

As they say in the auto trade, the feel of the wheel will seal the deal.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 67,716 miles

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2002 BMW M3: Civilized Beast

October 27, 2008

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Everybody expects the 2002 BMW M3 to be fun when allowed to run free. And it is. Uncorked, unchained, visceral, throw-you-head-back-and-laugh-with-manic-glee fun.

But for me, the most remarkable thing about this car is how well-behaved it can be in more mundane situations. Its suspension is taut enough to connect you to the road, but it's not stiff to the point of banging me around on a quick trip to the grocery store. Unlike many other performance cars, it's not a one-trick pony. From its cooperative handling to its roomy trunk, it's a choice most people could easily live with.

All in all, I find the M3 very practical, especially when you consider that we got it for just 30 grand. It's a beast when it needs to be, but it knows how to be perfectly civilized as well.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 63,313 miles

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2002 BMW M3: Great Seats, Too

September 23, 2008

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By now, you've all figured out that we kinda like the way our M3 drives. So I won't go over that...at least for today. In terms of daily-driver comfort, the M3 is likewise endearing. Light, progressive clutch, easy shifter, a sport suspension that doesn't violate my vertebrae. And these sport seats with their hefty side bolstering look like they mean business. They do, what with power adjustments for the seatback wings and 4-way lumbar support. They've also got adjustable thigh bolsters, 3-mode heaters and a driver memory. After I ran a fast 5k the other day, I appreciated these perfectly-supportive seats even more as I spent the rest of the afternoon running errands.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 62,339 miles.

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2002 BMW M3: A Tight Squeeze Made Easier

June 23, 2008

I had occasion to transport my daughter in the M3 this weekend. No surprise here: coupe-u-lar body styles make inserting and extracting a child seat and said child more difficult. At least the M3 has a couple tricks up its sleeve.

Besides showing how well the M3's oh-so-sumptuous red leather seats have (not) worn over the past 6 years, this photo illustrates how little room there is between the B-pillar and the seat back. Luckily, when you pull the all-too-obvious release handle (that also doubles as a seatbelt retainer), the seatback not only tilts forward, but the entire seat assembly also "jumps" up and forward in a sort of parallelogram-like motion. Neat.

While it's still not as easy on my back as a sedan, this thoughtful feature does make life a little easier.

But here's the kicker: When you push the seat back, it falls into its original adjusted position, not some vertical-and-all-the-way-forward default position like we've witnessed on some recent coupes we've seen. Even our 2008 BMW 135i can't match the trusty ol' M3 in this regard.

As Karl discussed here, the 135i's seat back tilts forward and back manually (to its original position), but you need to motor the seats forward and back with a button.

You see? Some things don't get better when they're digitally remastered and reissued.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 57,890 miles

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