2009 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

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2009 BMW M3: I'll Take These Four Doors Anytime

August 10, 2009

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I put over 300 miles on our 2009 BMW M3 sedan over the weekend. This was my first extended visit with the four-door, E90 version of the M3. Unfortunately, I was too heavily scheduled to get it on any back roads, but I enjoyed getting to know it on the freeway.

The 4.0-liter V8 (414 hp at 8,300 rpm, 295 lb-ft at 3,900 rpm) has all kinds of power, but it's not all evenly distributed throughout the range as it is on BMW's DI twin-turbos, so you feel like you're cheating yourself if you shift much before the 8,500-rpm redline. I like engines that give you this kind of incentive.

I could probably do without the engine's cold-start lumpiness. But I like that I can always hear the V8 at a 75-mph cruise, thanks to the modest overdrive reduction on the 6th gear (0.872) combined with a shortish final drive (3.850).

I have to agree with the criticism leveled against the M3's manual gearbox, but I'm so desperate to have a conversation with the cars I drive, that I find myself wanting to put up with the Getrag's long, springy clutch pedal stroke. I kept a pair of M3-friendly driving shoes in the trunk all weekend.

I had two additional passengers in our M3 sedan about a third of the time, so those rear doors and extra inch of rear legroom (34.6 versus 33.7 in the E92 coupe) were indispensable. Actually, our long-term M3 turned out to be a very practical car in these situations. It was adequately roomy for all of but one of the my passengers (there were 5 in total).

Even more surprising was its utterly compliant ride quality. With the exception of a slight busy feel (and audible resonance) over rain-grooved pavement (which doesn't exist in Germany where I'd guess the chassis tuning was finalized), it manages to feel highly controlled yet never, ever brutal.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,397 miles

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