2009 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

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2009 BMW M3: Learning to Love the M Button

February 08, 2010

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Awhile back I wrote that the M3's electronic gadgetry was overkill. Too much of a good thing was my general sentiment. It was already more than capable as is, why add a bunch of buttons that make it feel all tensed up and nervous?

On a long to the Ojai valley about 90 miles north of L.A. (that's one of the town's landmark arches in the picture, look closely and you'll see it was built way back in 1999) I gave the M3's "M" button another shot. It more or less coordinates all the possible means of electronic changes like the throttle control, dampers and stability control. You can set it up any way you want, but one of our resident track jockeys had already dialed in a nice setup, so I just pressed it and went.

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Just as I had remembered, the car feels like it's wound too tight all of a sudden. The throttle gets twitchy and the suspension turns stiff. On the highway it's not terrible, just slightly annoying. Once I got used to it, however, I could see the appeal. The car feels like one of those dogs pulling its owner down the sidewalk, it just wants to go.

Once I turned off onto some more interesting roads, I let it loose and the M3 felt just about perfect. If anything, it's a bit too capable, willing to go a little faster than is safe on public roads. That edginess that makes it a little too jumpy around town turns into a directness in corners that quite satisfying. Not required by any means, but a definite step up. After arriving at my destination I could see why the "M" button gets to be addictive to some. I'm guessing it's the roads it entices you to drive as much as it is the added performance. Either way, I'll admit to wanting one now.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 16,495 miles

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