2013 BMW M3 Coupe (4.0L V8 w/opt. 7-speed Automated Manual)
The 2013 BMW M3 is a high-performance car that you can drive every day, rather than just on weekends. It represents an ideal mix of driver communication and go-fast capabilities with a liveable interior and high-quality construction. This V8 model is on its way out, but it's destined to be a future classic.
PerformanceThe M3 boasts brilliant communication and an engaging personality unencumbered by an abundance of technology. Acceleration, braking and handling numbers may be topped by some rivals, but there's much more to this driver's car than just numbers.
The 4.0-liter 414-hp V8 needs lots of revs, but it sounds amazing. Zero-60 in 4.9 seconds is only average for the segment. The dual-clutch paddle-shift transmission is fast and smooth, if finicky at the drag strip.
Firm-feeling brake pedal, but it's narrow, restricting left-foot braking. Excellent fade resistance. Its 60-0 stopping distance of 104 feet is is excellent, though typical for this segment of car.
This could be the best steering on the planet, or at the very least, the best for less than $150,000. With perfect weighting and huge driver communication, it feels like an extension of your arms.
Wherever you point the M3 is exactly where it goes. Good grip (0.93g on skidpad), superb steering, completely intuitive to drive whether you're an expert or novice.
Not as easy to drive around town as a luxury coupe. The dual-clutch transmission is more complicated than a traditional automatic. Steering effort is high. Still, the M3 is friendlier than dedicated sports cars.
ComfortIf you're looking for a comfort-oriented car, the M3 isn't ideal. This is a performance machine with a firm ride and relatively high tire noise, but it's more comfy than the average sports car or high-performance coupe. Ultimately, a good balance.
Firm seats are great even over long distances. Broad, 10-way adjustability (fore/aft, backrest, front/rear lift, thigh support) with adjustable bolsters that are less intrusive than race-style seats.
The normal suspension setting is firm, though not jarringly so. Has that magic BMW damping we've come to expect. The two stiffer suspension settings are best for smooth, curvy roads. Or the track.
If you complain about the M3's engine noise, you're shopping in the wrong segment. There's more tire noise than a luxury sport sedan, but wind noise isn't intrusive.
InteriorThis is a more comfortable, easy-to-use car than many competitors. You could drive the M3 daily, or take it on road trips. But it's still a coupe with a small two-place back seat and an aging design with some storage issues.
Basic controls makes sense and are well-placed, though the shift lever is a bit odd. The iDrive infotainment system still requires too many clicks/pushes to accomplish simple tasks.
Easy to get into the front seats, because the M3 isn't as low as most sports cars. The large coupe doors make life hard in parking lots, and entry/exit to the back seat is obviously compromised.
Decent back seat room given the M3's sporting intent and coupe body style, but it's still cramped. Front seat space and adjustability are excellent, even for tall people.
It's a Popemobile compared to other sports cars and high-performance coupes. Thin pillars, relatively tall windows, broad view of the hood. Rear parking sensors, but no backup camera.
Almost zero interior storage. Flimsy pop-out cupholders, tiny armrest bin, average glovebox. The 11.1 cubic-foot trunk is big for a coupe and can hold golf clubs.
ValueThe M3 is built beautifully and should hold its value well. But you don't get a lot of features for your money, and fuel economy is dismal even for a V8-powered sports car.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Build quality is exactly what you'd expect from a $73,000 BMW: excellent. Materials are rich and it's clear they were put together to the utmost standard.
Xenon headlights, Bluetooth, iPod interface and emergency telematics are standard, but a rearview camera is unavailable. Power seats, satellite radio and keyless ignition are options.
Our test car included the $10,000 Lime Rock Park Edition package, but they're already sold out so it's a moot point. Even at the $61,025 base price this is an expensive car without much standard equipment.
The M3 is saddled with a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax. We averaged 15.2 mpg, with 16.7 mpg on our 116-mile evaluation loop. The EPA rates the car at 16 mpg Combined (14 City/20 Highway) for both 6-speed manual and 7-speed paddle-shift.
Four years/50,000 miles for both the bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties.
BMW offers four years of free maintenance with the M3, but the cost of run-flat tire replacement is hefty. Roadside assistance is covered for 4 years/unlimited miles.
Fun To DriveThere are few cars on earth that are as fun to drive as the BMW M3. Whether you're running errands or charging a mountain road, the M3 rewards, engages and excites. The perfect steering and glorious sounding V8 are enough to make you grin.
Other cars may be faster around a track or on a canyon road, but the M3's driver engagement is off the charts and provides a memorable drive each and every time.
The V8 music is intoxicating. You can feel the front tires through your fingers on the steering wheel. This is a car that becomes a part of you. It lacks the shock and awe of rivals, though.