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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2009 BMW M3: Tapping Into My Darkside

March 11, 2010

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It's no surprise that our 2009 BMW M3 was voted as the No. 2 long-term favorite of our editors. I know I love it. The only thing is that I also realized that if this were my car I'd be such an a-hole. I'm not saying that every M3 owner is an a-hole, just that I know I would be.

It seems like when I get behind the wheel of this car, suddenly everyone in the world doesn't know how to drive. Why so slow, people? The M3 aggravates my impatience.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 17,861 miles

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Editors' Favorites Number Two: 2009 BMW M3

March 11, 2010

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By the slimmest of margins, our 2009 BMW M3 sedan overtook the GT-R for second place. Its one-year test is not quite done, but it's obvious that the M3 has long-lasting appeal due to its combination of exemplary performance and everyday practicality.

Interestingly, there seems to be two camps within our editorial group; of all our 20-plus editors, only one voted for both the GT-R and the M3. Everybody else, if they voted at all for one of these two cars, made their choice an exclusive pick. Blue state versus Red. GT-R versus M3.

And with that, Editors' Favorites Five, Four, Three and Two are done. Tomorrow we conclude with Number One (hint: it's not the Veracruz). Following that on Monday, we'll also have the runners-up and the winner (?) of our Biggest Long-Term Loser vote.

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2009 BMW M3: Which Wheels Do You Prefer?

March 06, 2010

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First off, please excuse the photo, I know it's crap but I wasn't about to put off my Saturday morning bagel and coffee for a better angle. Anyway, it just so happens that an identical white BMW M3 parked next to our long-termer. It had the red interior and everything, but as you can sort of see, the owner chose to go with the larger wheel and tire combination.

We liked the look and ride quality of the slightly smaller 18s, but it's rare to see one so equipped. What look would you choose?

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line

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2009 BMW M3: Does It Sound Good at Startup?

March 03, 2010

Crank the volume on your speakers, as this was not shot with the best camera or by the best videographer (also, the sun suddenly went nova while the video was being shot... go figure). So listen and then decide if you're yay, nay or meh.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 17,748 miles

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2009 BMW M3: The Clouds Parted

March 01, 2010

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Perspective is a good thing. You'll probably roll your eyes at what I have to say here, but I do get spoiled with the cars we have available from time to time to drive. I can take things for granted and don't always appreciate a beautiful machine when I drive it.

I own a Mazda 3. It's a solid car. Does nothing great, but does a pretty good job at most everything to make it a well rounded car. For the better part of two weeks I've been in that, and no long term/test cars. I thought my 3 was peppy and fun. It wasn't until I got into our BMW M3 over the weekend did I realize my car is a dog.

I know, "No sh**, Sherlock. It's an M3 with a V8." It's not fair to compare the two, I grant you that. But the perspective of Mazda 3 ownership just makes you realize how awesome the M3 is.

It's pretty. It's got a muscular shape that exudes an "I like to go fast" attitude. It's got a beautiful growl, a responsive throttle and a fat steering wheel to control it all. I purposely drove late at night just so I could hit those freeway entrances and blast through the gears with no traffic and no worries. Just hearing that sucker scream as I hit fifth gear brought a big smile to my face. I wish I could own this mean machine on a full time basis.

Come Monday morning and back to the 3. Talk about letting the air out of my balloon. On the way out of the garage I stared at the M3 like that one hot college girlfriend I let get away because I was an idiot. Right as she left my sight I knew I missed her. You never really know what you had until it's gone.

Hell, maybe next weekend I can ask for the keys again?

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2009 BMW M3: A Little Rake Goes a Long Way

February 22, 2010

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As you can see, our BMW M3 has rake. I'm referring to that slight tilt forward that makes it looks like it's ready to take off even though it's just sitting there. The look is a combination of its actual tilt and the rising waistline of the car.

This used to be a common design theme that you would see if everything from sportscars to station wagons. Now you see all too many cars that are cursed with slab-sided lines and a perfectly flat stance. Some cars can pull it off e.g. Chrysler 300, but most can't. On the M3, it's actually a pretty subtle design cue, but it makes a big difference when you see the car on the road. Those big meats on the back help too.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 17,181 miles

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2009 BMW M3: Our Favorite Caption

February 12, 2010

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Thanks to bobjonesesq for this week's favorite caption. You guys are the best. There were so many good ones to choose from.

Here are the others that made us giggle:

M3 vs Prius: Which one generates the most SMUG? (lowmilelude)
Green with envy! (ergsum)
Autobahn vs Autoblah! (ergsum)
I'm here, offsettin' ur greenhouse gas emissions. (cx7lover)
Smokey Burnout and the Green Bandits (e90_m3)
Give me a brake! (adavis2493)
The Green Hell (e90_m3)
Made contact with locals today relationships already strained. (hybris)
Prius Envy (ergsum)
The Fast and the Priuses (ergsum)
Didn't you get that memo? (mrdang)
Bimmer vs. Bummer (aleclance)
Oh sorry guys, didn't notice you were in the middle of a bored meeting. (sherief)
Did you guys see that Top Gear episode, where I beat you in a mileage test? (sherief)
Assaultin' batteries. (misterfusion)
I'm dating Triplets (bluepunk82)
The M3 suffers an outbreak of Priusis. (ergsum)
All your carbon footprints are belong to me. (ahightower)

I made a special category for Star Wars references:

Look sir, droids! (sherief)
It's a trap! (71vetteboy)
Help me, Bei-Emm Duhbiou; you're my only hope. (ergsum)
Mos Eisley shopping center: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious. (ergsum)
Uncle Owen, this M3 unit is a badass motivator, look! (ergsum)
I have a very bad feeling about this. (ergsum)
These are not the droids you're looking for. (sherief)
There is a great disturbance in the Green Force. (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

P.S. Click here for video confirmation of the happy dance.

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2009 BMW M3: Therapy

February 12, 2010

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Another 16 hour day. Meetings. Politics. Email. Conference calls. Conference rooms. Skype. More meetings. More email. More politics. Fewer people. More effort. More hours. Less satisfaction. It's another day in the cubicle. Another day dealing with the boss. Another day working for the man. Another day in the Matrix.

And then you walk out to your M3.

Life is good.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 BMW M3: You Write the Caption

February 12, 2010

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Senior Editor Ed Hellwig sent me this photo of the 2009 BMW M3 surrounded by Priuses.

We suggest: More Gas for Me

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3: A Bargain If You Really Care

February 09, 2010

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Most people wouldn't drop $60k on an M3 even if they could, and I get that. Crunch the numbers and it doesn't make sense. The N54 and N55 turbo sixes nip at the mighty M-Power V8's heels, and the cars they come in are far cheaper. Surely a 335i or a 135i -- or hell, a Camaro SS -- will get the job done.

But the M3 is a connoisseur's car, and connoisseurs aren't into crunching numbers. Try telling an oenophile that she could save 70 bucks and get the same buzz from a $5 Trader Joe's special. That argument won't fly. If you really care about something, you sweat the details more than the bottom line. The M3's for people who think like that about cars. Every element of the driving experience, from the steering, suspension and brakes to the shifter and the throttle response, has been fine-tuned to please drivers who really care. It's clearly built by connoisseurs as well as for them.

The M3 isn't an overpriced 3 Series; it's a discounted supercar. In an age when raw automotive excellence is disappearing from showrooms faster than manual transmissions, this Bimmer stands apart.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor @ 16,855 miles

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2009 BMW M3: Some Puddle Lamps are better than others

February 01, 2010

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Maybe it's the white paint, maybe it's the white LED light, but the puddle lamps on the 2009 BMW M3 Sedan are very effective.

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2009 BMW M3: Over Due

January 25, 2010

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We're 600 miles late in reporting that our 2009 BMW M3 sedan has passed the 15,000-mile mark. Other than some tire issues, this staff favorite has been good to us.

Here's a beauty shot for your enjoyment.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 15,606 miles

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2009 BMW M3: Dirty Exhaust Tips

January 15, 2010

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So our BMW M3 burns through its fair share of oil. And lo and behold, the exhaust tips are quite sooty. Dirty tips bug me, so I'll be cleaning them up this weekend. I've got a couple ways to go about it on my own car, but anybody want to recommend a particular technique or product they're fond of for cleaning exhaust tips? I've got four tips to experiment on.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 BMW M3: Random Pictures Edition

January 13, 2010

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What do a cat, an Edmunds fuel mileage log book and a Lexus IS-F have in common? Nothing, really, though they're included in a few eclectic photos I took this week involving our 2009 M3. They follow after the jump.

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2009 BMW M3: The Beauty of M

January 08, 2010

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It's Friday morning. You're about ready to head out to work when your wife asks for a favor: Can you drop the kids off at school on your way? "Sure, honey, I can do that," you tell her. You pack up the kiddies in the back of your 2009 BMW M3 sedan, thinking to yourself that you bought the sedan over the coupe just for situations like this.

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2009 BMW M3: Battery location

December 24, 2009

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I was rummaging around the trunk of our long-term 2009 BMW M3 the other day, looking for the owner's book, when I came across this little cubby.

Hit the jump to find out what's underneath; plus, a Christmas bonus!

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan: Versus BMW M3 Coupe

December 11, 2009

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BMW M3 Sedan versus BMW M3 Coupe. Both have the same 4.0-liter, 414-hp V8 and both wear Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer tires. Check out the vitals of our long-term sedan alongside those of the last coupe we tested. Is there a clear cut winner? Which would you choose?

2009 BMW M3 Sedan
$67,370 (as tested)
0-60 mph: 4.5 sec (with 1-ft rollout)
1/4-mile: 12.9 sec @ 109.8 mph
60-0 mph: 105 ft
Slalom: 70.0 mph
Skidpad: 0.90g
Weight: 3,710 (as tested)
Fuel economy (avg): 16.0 mpg
Tires: (F: 245/40ZR18, R: 265/40ZR19)

2008 BMW M3 Coupe
$65,775 (as tested)
0-60 mph: 4.3 sec (with 1-ft rollout)
1/4-mile: 12.7 sec @ 112.0 mph
60-0 mph: 100 ft
Slalom: 73.3 mph
Skidpad: 0.95g
Weight: 3,590 (as tested)
Fuel economy (avg): 15.6 mpg
Tires: (F: 245/35R19, R: 265/35R19)

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 13,500 miles

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2009 BMW M3: Open Thread

December 08, 2009

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What do you want to know about the 2009 BMW M3 sedan?

Have you driven one, ridden in one, dreamed of one, seen one on the road?

Write your questions and reviews in the comments section.

Any details you want a picture or video of?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan: Now My Kids Call It the Mtree

December 07, 2009

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"You want me to put this tree on THAT car?" the Xmas tree guy said in amazement.

"Yup," I replied. "It'll be fine. It's only a 10-footer."

"Whatever pal, it's your car."

The best part was on the way home, when we stopped at a redlight next to a guy in a Suburban with teeny five-foot tree on his roof. He thought I was a fool. And I was thinking the exact same thing about him.

And no, the tree did not damage the BMW.

Fact is, before the SUV began its reign as America's defacto familymobile 20 or so years ago, millions and millions of Americans got their Christmas trees home on the roof of a family car, and they did it that way for 80 or 90 years. Yesterday I proved this is still possible, regardless of what that jerk in the Suburban thinks.

Besides, now my kids call it the BMW Mtree.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 BMW M3: Covet

December 06, 2009

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If we had the opportunity to choose one car from our fleet that we could call our own, the BMW M3 sedan would probably top many of our editors' lists.

I know it would be on the tippy top of mine (now that my beloved GT-R and R8 are gone).

It's fast, it's quick, it's sexy, it's powerful and it's ridiculously easy to drive.

Our 2009 BMW M3 is car of the week.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3 vs. Everyone Else

November 18, 2009

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What is it about certain cars that bring out the drag racer in other people? Or maybe it's just L.A. I've experienced stoplight challenges when I was in our GSR and our GT-R but the list of challengers to our 2009 BMW M3 seems to be more diverse than the tuner cars after our long-termers with rear spoilers. Case in point, the following are cars with drivers who I've encountered at various stoplights in the past 24 hours who think they're faster than our 2009 BMW M3, which can hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

  • 2005 Ford Mustang 5.2 seconds
  • 2006 Honda Civic Si 5.9 6.8 seconds
  • 2007 Infiniti G35 5.5 seconds
  • 2008 Porsche Cayenne S 6.4 seconds

My guess is that they assumed our BMW was a regular 3 Series, but even that will go from zero to 60 in about 5.3 seconds. ::Shrugs:: Have you ever done that? Size up the competition at a stoplight and consider if they're worth the effort?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3: Nine Observations on other Drivers

November 12, 2009

M3 Reflection.jpgGuess where we went yesterday? Sadly, the M3 didn't see any track time -- but another long-termer did. You'll have to wait for the whole surprising story later.

But on my drive back, I found myself categorizing my fellow motorists and I came up with 9 to start. I promise it'll be fun--jump with me...

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2009 BMW M3: Best Car in the World

November 07, 2009

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Disagree with the title? You haven't driven one enough. I know I hadn't when I disagreed.

I guess a little back-story on me: I've never been a big BMW fanboi. Give me the keys for a weekend and I'll head for the canyons, sure, but if we're talking my money, my preferences, I'd prefer a more tank-like Mercedes, especially if it's an AMG Mercedes.

BMW's, the M3 in particular, has always felt fragile to me. They're light and twitchy and hyper-responsive. If you've ever held a small bird in your hands, it's kind of like that. You just expect the whole thing to up and die from hypertension at any moment. AMG cars are like dogs. Bid dogs. They're sort of lazy until something sparks their interest (Squirrel!) and then it's GO GO GO until it decides to change course.

The 2009 BMW M3 sedan, though, is different.

What you're about to read are real, raw impressions. Copies of text messages to-and-from co-workers dating to the first time I took our 2009 BMW M3 home. (And yes, we all have full-keyboard phones which makes this whole thing much more readable.)

Friday, 18:30 to Sadlier: "Drove M3 home. Not impressed. Lousy clutch. Would rather 335d + cash. Nice wheel."

Friday, 18:31 to Riswick: "M3 thoughts? I'm not sold. Much rather C63. Think even prefer 335d."

Friday, 18:35 from Sadlier: "You're off your meds again, aren't you?"

Friday, 18:35 to Sadlier: "No torque. Long shifts. Engine @ idle sounds like a dryer full of buttons. Appears to get 11mpg."

Friday, 18:37 from Sadlier: "Come trade me for SX4 then."

Friday, 18:40 to Sadlier: "No."

Friday, 18:41 from Riswick: "No."

Satuday, 08:45 to Riswick: "Just drove canyons. Wow. What a car. Stupid-high limits."

Saturday, 08:47 to Sadlier: "Yowsah. Steering. Brakes. Steering. Shifter. Clutch great at 7/10ths. Scary fast w/o being scary."

Saturday, 08:51 from Riswick: "Still want that 335?"

Saturday, 08:52 to Riswick: "They still make that car? M-mode = Mike's mode."

Saturday, 10:12 from Sadlier: "Yeah?"

Saturday, 10:23 to Sadlier: "Yeah. Could be the best car I've ever driven."

Saturday, 10:25 to Chris Walton (chief road test Editor): "Can you think of a car any car with better steering/brakes/engine/trans/clutch? Short of 911gt3?"

Saturday, 11:40 from Chris Walton: Uh huh...you're getting' it.

Saturday, 11:51 to Chris Walton: "This is the best most complete car in the world. It's actually a bargain for what you get. Wow."

I spent the rest of the weekend driving and not texting, but my brain was thinking essentially the same things over and over again.

1) This car is far too fast for normal people to drive every day (see for example, the kid who smoked Lutz and his CTS-V last week.)
2) With all of the performance things this can do, combined with all of the lux/tech features, this car is as close to perfect as is currently available.
3) As good as it is, it's still a little sterile, a little surgical. This is a better car, but I still want a C63.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2009 BMW M3: Power dome

October 08, 2009

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This is the view you command when you're behind the wheel of our long-term 2009 BMW M3.
The power dome in the hood is in plain view. You don't need any M badges to remind you that this is the 3-series big dog.

Just glance out the windshield and look at that bulge: it tells you that this isn't just another USC-stickered 328 that litters the West Side of Los Angeles.

This is the all-conquering, magnificent-sounding, V8-powered M3, at the height of its existence.

Because, as Josh said, it's all downhill from here.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,200 miles

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2009 BMW M3: It's All in the Name of Aerodynamics

October 07, 2009

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At least that what this odd detail on our M3 looks like to me. I only noticed it over the weekend, so clearly it's not much of a styling issue.

It appears as though this odd cut line was made so the mirror housing could fold in, but it doesn't look particularly well finished, especially for a car that's so utterly spectacular in virtually ever other respect.

Surely, there must be a good reason for the lapse in detail here. Any suggestions?

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 10,022 miles

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2009 BMW M3: 10,000 Miles and Not Much To Report

October 05, 2009

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I was kind of hoping something would have gone disastrously wrong with our M3 by now. Maybe a tranny explosion or complete electronic meltdown. At least then I would have a reason to scoff at its sky high price. Then I would look at it and wonder if it was worth all the money and headaches.

But I crossed the 10,000 mile mark this weekend and realized that not much has happened. We've been wringing it senseless for months now and it doesn't seem to mind a bit. It's suspension is tight, there are no rattles and it feels at fast or faster than it did the day it arrived. Wish I had $70K, I'd get one for myself.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 10,000 miles

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan: Best Sedan (sniff, pout) Ever

October 02, 2009

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As our 2009 BMW M3 nears its 10K milestone, it feels as tight, powerful, and tacitly capable as it did the day it arrived. The current E90 M3 has been derided as being a sell out by those who feel the M3 peaked with the E36 (or even E30). Regardless of whether you feel this is the best M3 ever, it is perhaps the best sedan there is at any price. Here's why...

The 2009 BMW M3 Sedan is honest about what it is. I mean it doesn't attempt to be anything other than it is and it does everything that's expected of it. Sure you could say that a Prius is just as honest and I wouldn't argue with you. But this sedan combines just enough practicality and luxury with that rarely-achieved driver-machine bond. The most obvious clue is in how the seat holds you tight and makes you feel like you are truly a required part of the hardware (and software). Then you'll notice how the steering allows you to feel like you've got the palms of your hands on the tarmac. Finally, the way it rewards (and sort of even thanks you) for doing things correctly (like up- and down-shifting, trail braking, and so on) makes you realize others who value such things have been sitting exactly where you are, doing precisely what you are doing, and insisting that it behaves as it is. Only a handful of cars have felt to me as if they've been designed and engineered from the driver's seat where Hans-Joachim Stuck himself was calling the shots. Don't get me wrong. This car isn't hard to drive. It's not even scary to drive. No, it's just that when push comes to shove, the car gets better the more you ask of it. And in case you were wondering, the other three honest cars that come to mind at this very moment are the Porsche 911 GT3, Ferrari 430, and Mitsubishi Evo IX GSR (didn't see that one comin' did ya?).

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 9,911 miles

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2009 BMW M3: The End Of The M As We Know It

September 30, 2009

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When I first heard rumors that the next BMW M5 would ditch the glorious 5.0-liter V10 in favor of a twin-turbo V8, I didn't buy it. No way. M cars are for purists who know there's no substitute for a purpose-built high-revving naturally aspirated motor. Porsche would sooner slap a turbo on the 911 GT3 than the Motorsport division would turn to forced induction.

But then the X5 M and X6 M happened. A triple whammy for M loyalists. Not only had BMW violated the unofficial turbocharging taboo, it had also reneged on its promise "to keep the Motorsport realm pure and only include cars" -- and thrown in the second-ever M-badged conventional automatic transmission for good measure (the E36 M3 had an ill-advised slushbox option). In one fell swoop, the M brand went from a symbol of unadulterated driving passion to something disturbingly like AMG.

Since then, of course, the M5's twin-turbo V8 has been confirmed, and it will surely find its way into the next M6 as well (if there is one). Which means that in a couple years, the M3 will be the last naturally aspirated M car standing. And why should we believe that the next M3 won't be turbocharged too? If you're with me in finding the current M3 a bit too emotionally distant for its own good, just wait till it's got a blown motor under the hood like every other M.

A turbocharged engine simply can't match the instantaneous throttle response of a naturally aspirated one, and no amount of low-end torque can approximate the thrill of winding out a classic M motor to its 8,000-ish-rpm redline. I thought the Motorsport folks understood that.

Guess not.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor @ 9,640 miles

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BMW M3 Sedan or Audi RS4 or Mercedes C63 AMG: Which is Best?

September 21, 2009

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I put about 500 miles on our long-term 2009 BMW M3 sedan this weekend. To say I'm enamored with the machine is like saying Megan Fox looks good with her back arched.

Then on Sunday I found a rerun of Top Gear on my DVR list. It was an old episode with a comparison between the new M3, the Audi RS4 and the C63 AMG Mercedes. (If you've never seen it I've included the videos on the next page.) So I crack a beer, grab the couch and watch it.

An hour and three beers later I found myself thinking; "Which would I want?" Obviously there isn't a bad call here. These are three great cars anybody would be lucky to own, but they are quite different from one another.

At first I tell myself I would choose the M3. After all, it won over the C63 in our comparison test about a year ago and it's without a doubt the best all-arounder. But I am from Jersey, so the Benz's big cubes and billows of tire smoke are appealing.

But this time I choose beauty over burnouts. This time I choose the Audi RS4. Yes, I know they don't make them anymore and I know it's the slowest of the three. I can't help it, I still want one.

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan or 2011 Infiniti M56: Which Would You Choose?

September 18, 2009

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Yesterday I drove our long-term BMW M3 Sedan to a double-secret location to drive the 2011 Infiniti M37 and Infiniti M56.

While there it occurred to me that the M56, which will go on sale in April, will pack about the same horsepower as our M3 (Infiniti says more than 400). Then I realized that the rear-wheel drive Infiniti (all-wheel drive will be available) will also cost about the same as the M3 sedan, which starts at $55,000.

Obviously the M56 is larger, but is that such a bad thing?

So which would you choose; M3 or M56?

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2009 BMW M3: Worth It

September 10, 2009

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Over on the M3 open thread, nealibob voiced a concern that's probably on a lot of people's minds: "I have to wonder why one would pay the premium over a 335i...I just do not see the point in shelling out 25+% more...without contributing much to performance."

Answer: If you care about maximal handling capabilities and the unadulterated thrills of a high-revving naturally aspirated motor, the M3 is worth every additional penny.

As a few commenters mentioned in that thread, the 335i (even with the Sport Package) feels soft and undisciplined at the limit compared to the phenomenally athletic M3. The M-specific suspension tuning, enhanced in our long-termer's case by the exclusive adjustable dampers, is night-and-day sharper than the regular 3er Sport Package setup in hard cornering.

And when you're driving at 10/10ths, there's no substitute for the instantaneous throttle response of a naturally aspirated motor; moreover, the M3's 4.0-liter V8 is inherently more engaging because it actually requires you to think about what gear you should be in (and rewards you in a big way when you get it right), unlike the twin-turbo six and its shelf-like torque curve. Sounds a whole lot better, too, though I have to agree with those who've said it's too refined for its own good. I once described the E46 M3's inline-6 as "feral" -- wish I could say the same of this V8.

Overall, I'd liken the M3 to a high-end digital SLR camera. Its cheaper sibling may offer most of its features for less coin, but if you're an enthusiast who really sweats the details, the only reason you won't ante up is if you can't afford to.*

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor @ 8,268 miles

*Unless you'd rather scour the classifieds for a low-mileage E46 M3 with the Competition Package. A subject for another day.

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2009 BMW M3: Some Answers

September 10, 2009

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Answers to some of your questions in the Open Thread post:

By adavis2493 on September 8, 2009 4:11 AM
How's it over speed bumps?

Stiff, but OK if you do the recommended speed. You have to watch the front end in driveways, though.

By ahightower on September 8, 2009 5:46 AM
I just want to revive the debate over why you would ever put such a dull color on such a wicked car. ;) Seriously though, I'd like to know more about the luxury features and its highway cruising behavior. Is it quiet on the open road? Is it a road tripper like the 7-series, or too busy and buzzy and harsh like the Evo and STI?

Luxury features: Well, it has those heated red leather seats which are pretty nice. It has headlight washers, a navigation system, iPod adapter, moonroof, satellite radio and a good audio system. I like the door handle lights that are in the picture above.

One thing that bugs me is it doesn't have a lot of interior storage. It has a center storage compartment that holds an iPod and has enough space to put some stuff. But I like to have center cupholders so I can put my parking access card, my blackberry and my camera in there -- things I like to have handy. No, I don't talk on the phone or text while driving. But I am guilty of checking my email at stop lights. Our M3 is keyless, so I need a place for the keyfob. I like to keep it where I can see it.

Highway cruising behavior: Yes, it is quiet on the open road, not Hyundai Genesis quiet, but it's not loud like a muscle car. It's pretty squeaky right now, though. Those seats are really talkative. We have to do something about them. I wouldn't call it a highway cruiser like the 7 Series. It has a tight sporty suspension but it doesn't shake you to pieces like the GT-R. It's comfortable.

By dougtheeng on September 8, 2009 6:03 AM
Thoughts on the hood bulge? Do you like it or find it to be over the top?

Donna likey. I think it's subtle, not showy. The thing I like about the M3 is that it's a stealthy monster. It doesn't have in-your-face sports car looks.

By kingkhalas on September 8, 2009 9:09 AM
For people who live in heavy traffic areas with a long commute in bumper to bumper (like Los Angeles)... Would you recommend the Manual vs. the Dual Clutch Auto?

The M3 is so easy to drive that I would recommend the manual, even in commuter traffic. I'm usually lazy about that kind of thing, but I was stuck in traffic on the freeway last night, and the M3 doesn't bother me a bit. Hill-hold helps a lot. And the clutch isn't so stiff that your left leg starts to wear out.

By subytrojan on September 8, 2009 10:34 AM
Nice shot! Where was it taken?

Scott Jacobs took that shot. I'll ask him and get back to you.

@ achenato
Nice car.

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2009 BMW M3: An added benefit of the front spoiler shape

September 08, 2009


2009 BMW M3 front spoiler.jpg

Our long-term 2009 BMW M3 has a nicely shaped front spoiler.
I'm not sure if the shape is due to styling or aero.

But it does have an additional benefit.

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan: Open Thread

September 08, 2009

What do you want to know about the 2009 BMW M3?

Have you driven one? Is there any detail that you want us to take a picture of?

Let us know in the comments section.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3: Blends Into the Background

July 27, 2009

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With previous iterations of BMW's M cars, you could order some pretty outlandish colors such as Phoenix Yellow Metallic and Laguna Seca Blue. The latest M3 sedan, however, has a less expressive and expansive palette. Its Lemans Blue is darker than Laguna was; Melbourne Red is about as exciting as it gets. Alpine White is, well, white.

Henceforth, our M3 causes barely a flutter on other motorists' awareness meter. Most people probably think it's just another 3 Series with aftermarket wheels. And you know, this suits me just fine. Little do the masses know that that I've got 414 horsepower under the hood and tires so sticky that they leave rubber marks on my driveway.

To take a theme from the movie The Hangover, driving our 2009 M3 sedan is like a going to a batchelor party in Las Vegas that has tigers and strippers while everyone else thinks you're on your way to Napa Valley to stay in a quaint lodge and gently sip Pinot noir.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 6,540 miles

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2009 BMW M3: Gray Wheels Hide The Brake Dust

July 22, 2009

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Even from 5 feet away, our M3's gray wheels look pretty normal. It's only when you get up close to clean them do you realize that the M3 isn't an exception from BMW's typically prolific brake dust generation.

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan: Our Favorite Caption

July 17, 2009

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Thanks to eidolways for this week's favorite caption. Your efforts paid off.

These were the others that lit our fire:

Roman Candles vs. Bavarian Rocket (ergsum)
Fireworks owner Bubba "Two Fingers" would give it a thumbs up, if he could! (ergsum)
Smokey and the Bavarian (ergsum)
Objects in the mirror more explosive then they appear. (dougtheeng)
No question about it, that arrow in the parking lot took off from here. (mnorm1)
BMW joins Nascar in the Firecracker 400 (stpawyfrmdonut)
We decided to "fix" the iDrive with a couple of M80s. (vwthing1)
The M3: Its Dyn-o-mite (jay_r)
"Get your mortar running, head out on the highway..." (funkymunky)
Inside Liner's famous last words, "I saw this in a cartoon once but I'm pretty sure I can do it." (ergsum)
M3 meet M80. (pontneuf2503)
American spirit meets German artillery. (pontneuf2503)
BMW: A new kind of Launch Control. (hunter312)
German Candle. (sherief)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan: You Write the Caption

July 17, 2009

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Scott took this picture around the Fourth of July. Don't worry he didn't buy any illegal fireworks. The store was closed.

We suggest "Smoke M If You Got M"

There's plenty of room on this photo, so have at it.

We'll post our favorite at 4PM Pacific Time.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3: Jan van Eyck

June 25, 2009

I jumped into the M3 this morning and started it up quick. I was in a hurry.

As the nav screen loaded, a detail caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks. The pseudo reflection in the detail bubble reminded me of the Jan van Eyck's The Arnolfini Portrait and it's convex mirror.

m3sedan-detail.jpg

JanvanEyck-mirror.jpg JanvanEyck.jpg

I dunno, maybe I just needed some coffee.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2009 BMW M3 Sedan: Mosaic

June 18, 2009

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Here are some beauty shots of the 2009 BMW M3 Sedan. All photos by Scott Jacobs.

Pretty, huh?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3: Open Thread

June 16, 2009

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What do you want to know about the 2009 BMW M3 Sedan?

Have you seen any sedans on the road or only coupes and convertibles?

If you've driven one, write a review in the comments section.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW M3: The Final Word on White With Dark Wheels

May 04, 2009

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Last Thursday Jacquot called me out on our white 2009 BMW M3 sedan. He said he didn't like the white with dark wheels thing, which I chose.

He wrote: "There isn't another color in the spectrum which more effectively steals a car's soul -- not to mention its glorious subtleties. The Alpine White on our M3 does a brilliant job of hiding the hood's power bulge and the otherwise striking fender flares. I'm not a fan."

Well ladies and gentleman I believe that Mr. Josh secretly likes the look of our M3, and I present this photo as exhibit A for the prosecution.

On Friday Jacquot and I went down to Anaheim to check out qualifying for the D1GP. Upon arrival we parked next to this white 135i, which is obviously wearing black wheels.

Before Jacquot could control himself, the guy was calling the car "bitchin'" and running over to take a closer look. I do believe he is even displaying a thumbs up (the universal symbol for "I likey"), which is partially captured in the photo.

So, is it possible that Jacquot likes one white BMW with dark wheels and not another? I don't think so.

The prosecution rests. The Inside Line long-term M3 Sedan is cool.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 BMW M3: Jacquot's A Fool. It Looks Great.

April 30, 2009

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As I said in the title, Jacquot's a fool. Our white long-term M3 sedan looks great in white and those dark 18-inch wheels are the only way to go. The white with dark wheels thing is cool and they are proportionally right for the car. The optional 19s are too big and too shiny. But Jacquot is known for his love of the bling. The guy just put 22-inch spinners on his wife's Mazda 3. So I urge you to consider the source.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 BMW M3: Is Bigger Really Better?

April 30, 2009

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Editor Oldham speced our M3. It's white. It's got red leather and 18-inch wheels. He's the boss so he gets to make the call on these things. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

But there are a few things that need to be said about the choices. White? Seriously? There isn't another color in the spectrum which more effectively steals a car's soul -- not to mention its glorious subtleties. The Alpine White on our M3 does a brilliant job of hiding the hood's power bulge and the otherwise striking fender flares. I'm not a fan.

And the red leather: Who am I Bozo The Pimp?

And the wheels: He chose 18s because he likes the way the look. "They've got dish," says Oldham. But they don't have dish. Not any that matters anyway. He pointed out that they do, however, cost less -- the 19s are a $1,200 option. But according to the hairsplitting M3 nerds on M3 post.com the 19s (with tires) actually weigh less.

Thing is, they might just be worth it. I think they look better and the last M3 sedan we tested with 19s outhandled our car.

What say you?

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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