2009 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

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2009 BMW M3: Does It Have to Be Red?

March 23, 2010

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Another Inside Line BMW M3, another flamboyant red interior.

Every time I drive our 2009 M3 sedan, I'm reminded of a James May column (read it) in Top Gear. He wrote it a few years back when Jeremy Clarkson was shopping for a Gallardo. May's point, made convincingly I thought, was that it made no sense to buy a Lambo and do it up with understated black or dark green paint. There's no racing heritage in a Lamborghini; rather, these cars are all about flamboyance bordering on vulgarity. So you have to choose one of the wild and crazy paint codes, or else people will think you're delusional about the marque's history.

For different reasons, I feel BMW M3 buyers are obligated to get the Fox Red Novillo leather.

BMW builds some entertaining cars, but they take themselves so darn seriously. How else to explain their conservative designs (the company is doing its best to eradicate all traces of the Chris Bangle era) and dour, no-tolerance-for-nonsense interiors?

As capable as it is, our M3 sedan has no business taking itself seriously. Yep, this is a car a businessperson might drive, but it makes all sorts of nasty, vicious sounds at startup, and as you drive around town, you hear all sorts of noises and vibrations that you wouldn't hear in an ordinary 3 Series sedan. This is the soundtrack of a car, or a warship, with so much power and weaponry, it's trying to tear itself apart. Sold under a different brand by less prosperous dealerships, this car might be called "Lancer Evolution."

Of course, the M3 has evolved into a pretty luxurious car over the years. But there's still a streak of rawness in it and there's no sense hiding that under beige or black leather. So it's up to you to encourage BMW to be a little less serious. It's up to you to order the red hide.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 18,595 miles

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