The 2001 and 2002 M roadsters are unique in their absolute driving performance. The engine is sublime and the car can out run just about anything on the road. From a roll, from a launch, or on the freeway it just runs away. Most everyone underestimates the car and I have yet to see a car (even new models of corvette, SRT8s, camaros, etc) that can even keep close. The car can break the tires free shifting into any gear but is so balanced that there is no loss of control or fishtailing. If you think your current car is fast and handles well you should drive one of these to compare.
The motor has torque and HP at every RPM. Can drop it in 3rd at 90 and spin the tires. 50/50 weight balance.
The seats are tight and hold you in firmly, great for spirited driving but less so for daily driving.
Amazing car. BMW did not include the M differential or the sport mode button for political reasons. You can install the sport mode with just a wire and a button. The diff can be replaced for under $100 from a breaking yard to bring up to the pace of the E46 M3. Try a launch with sport mode on and then you will not believe it. It's a rocket ship. 12.51 quarter, bone stock.
I like the way it's so well balanced.
Do the diff and the sport mode mod. They are both very simple, and very inexpensive.
Built for winding alpine touring the S54-equipped M roadster is the best car I have ever owned in terms of raw thrill, performance and head-turning good looks. The only (minor) design flaw is non- functional shark-gill side air vents (unlike its lesser cousin the Z3). Odd in a car where every aspect of driving is optimized for the purist from analog instruments to race-quality seat bolsters and an unnerving lack of roll in the fastest corners. It will take anything except a Z06, Viper or Turbo Porsche in a straight, and in the mountains it's virtually untouchable - truly a keeper for the enthusiast and if you find one in mint condition it will be close to 2X the "suggested" online prices.
If you are considering buying this car, good luck finding it for the dealer retail or private party value on Edmunds. If you do find it at that price, it's a lemon. These cars are rare and worth the premium! Mine is a Laguna Seca w/13K miles. Build quality issues not yet encountered but I did previously own an 00 M Roadster and a 2003 M3 Conv and agree the M Roadster did have more quality problems (last one had 70K miles). M3 did not have such problems. It's funny watching Porsche Boxter S's disappear in the review ;-) Gorgeous, rare, stunning appearance, gobs of power at high revs (downshifts needed @ high speeds, could use a 6sp but still a fantastic ride) - grab one if you see one!
S54 Engine, S54 Engine, 315HP, 251FP/Torque, S54, did I mention the S54? Stunning looks, fast power drop- top, two-tone interior color combo. You will dust almost anything on the road short of a new 06 M5/M6 or a Corvette Z06. Great exhaust (way better than the M3 but not as good as the S52)
Rear suspension will fly out w/out DSP on - unless you're a pro, keep the DSP on. Needs sport mode like the M3 (this can be modified by a BMW shop). Give it a 6sp, maybe 85 more HP, lowered an inch more, still suffers from poor paint. Extreme - but you can tell BMW left some on the table :-)
I haven't experienced any of the build quality issues yet. The issues with the S54 engine are always in the back of my mind. Other than that, this car is just so enjoyable to drive. I love it. BMW will never build another car like this. Ever.