Spy versus Spy, or M3 vs. M3

2002 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

Spy versus Spy, or M3 vs. M3

April 10, 2008

The contrast of these two M3s in the Inside Line garage couldn't be ignored. Our long-term 2002 BMW E46 in black, and the 2008 BMW E92 M3 in white. The infamous Spy vs. Spy conflict had come to the automotive realm. Is this a great place to work, or what? M3 enthusiasts, ourselves included, have already anointed the E46 "The Best M3 Ever ." Citing its "Bulldog stance, awesome grip, racecar brakes, and an engine for the ages, " we had to have one of our very own. Those who know that a Roundel has nothing to do with calligraphy or a 100-pound cheese wheel will quickly point out that this was last M3 before iDrive,Bangle, and a V8.

Can the E46's silken 333-hp inline-6, tidy dimensions, and razor-sharp dynamics (made better with new tires) hold a candle to the E92's 420-hp 8,400-rpm redline V8, electronic dampers, and hard-core Michelin PS2 tires? Keep in mind the new M3 is some 230 pounds more massive but has electronic aids that could land the space shuttle safely -- in the fog. Has BMW improved the M3 or have the boffins saddled it with too many gizmos and gee-gaws to make it a less pure, less enjoyable, and ultimately less rewarding machine? So, which is it, the classic-black E46, or the appliance-white E92?

Which will prove itself more worthy of the ///M badge? Which one would you rather drive home, or at the racetrack? Which Spy is going to spit out his shattered teeth and slink away with a charred hat and trenchcoat? Any bets? You sure about that? Stay tuned.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 55,000 miles

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