2009 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

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2009 BMW M3: Brilliant, But Would I Buy One?

March 15, 2010

BMW M3 at Bergamot Museum

This is the question I posed to myself this weekend. Sure, I essentially wrote it a love letter on Friday, and another canyon drive (this time a wee bit faster) reinforced my appreciation for this brilliant machine. However, on a day-to-day basis, I fear that its frenetic nature would grow tiresome, like being friends with Jim Carrey. Sure, great fun on the weekends, but sometimes you just want to relax and watch some TV.

Usually, the "should I drive a sports car every day?" debate centers around ride quality and space issues. Well, those aren't the M3's problems. The ride is actually quite comfortable and the thing is a sedan, after all. My issue is that it takes due diligence to drive it smoothly at normal speeds around town. The M3 is a performance machine and it wants to be treated as such, yet sometimes you just can't or don't want to blast away up to 7,500. Getting the clutch and throttle application just right to prevent herking and jerking takes a lot more concentration than in the S5 or in the easiest car to drive smoothly ever, our new GTI. There's also a fair bit of road noise. These are problems, they are inherent sports car compromises.

As such, I think for the M3's price tag of $67,370, I'd opt for something a little more neutral in character. Something a little more civil for those times away from a canyon and/or in the presence of a girlfriend who'd quietly prefer her travels not to feel like a roller coaster. The E550 Coupe would probably have the exact opposite problem (like being friends with Jim Cameron), so perhaps the answer is an S5, or perhaps a 335i and a boat load of cash.

Either way, I probably wouldn't buy an M3 ... but I'm certainly thrilled to drive it whenever I can.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 18,021 miles

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