1st new car I ever bought & still own 12 years later, tracked it when under warranty, only issues was brake rotors & too much restriction in power steering boost. STOCK SUSPENSION WAS SHOT AFTER 50,000 MILES, went to turner ms bilstein sport/h&r sport springs. Never looked back. Re-did rear this year. Under bilstein warrenty. Issues were blown head gasket @105,000 miles, rebuilt rear axles@ 115,000 & VANOS @ 95,000& lower control arms @ 90,000 all par for the course, mobile one only in engine, trans, rear & power steering 25 mpg.
Overall - I can't find better one to date than this equipped with 4dr. and stick shift. I love pretty nimble handling and powerful engine. Body rigidity seems to be better than 2dr due to B piller. I'm not sure why BMW does not release 4dr. M3 in US for current model. Maybe E36-M3 could be the first and last 4dr. "M3" in US. It's well balanced between performance and packaging that holds average family. It's reliable too as long as maintained properly. Before buying the M3, I expected bunch of repair and regular service bills but it's been way below than I expected, which is a pleasant surprise. It's almost as well built Japanese vehicles.
There have been few purchases (<5) in my life that I have absolutely no regrets about. This tops the list. Everyday when I get behind the wheel of this car I am elated. The response is like no other vehicle I've driven. The flat torque curve starts you off at 200lb-ft and the acceleration is fantastic. Handling is phenomenal; double suggested speeds for highway ramps (professional driver, closed course, do not attempt at home). Every time I think about getting a new car, those thoughts are blown away when I drove home. To top it all off, it's practical-4 doors, trunk space, decent rear legroom. This is the most fun you can have in an automobile, probably for around $10k these days.
If it were remotely possible to disprove the BMW motto of, "The Ultimate Driving Machine", they wouldn't be allowed to say it. Trust me, if you have the $$$ and you want the BEST 4 door sports car on this planet, you pick up an M3, period.