I have owned this car for almost 2 years now, and it just feels great to drive. Check the "Melted Rubber" web site for a thorough review.
With 230 HP, it is not going to win too many drag races; and I only get 25 mpg with 95% freeway driving. I could probably squeeze a couple more out of it, but it is practically impossible not to be a leadfoot.
One thing to watch out for if you get one is the routine maintenance. It is typical for people to neglect this until 130,000+ miles, at which point the car will likely need shocks, bushings, etc all around and a clutch.
BMW st^H^H dealers have turned overcharging into an art form - finding a good independent mechanic will save you a fortune.
Handling is what this car is all about.
In its day it was the best handling car money could buy.
Throttle response is great, the transmission shifter is just right with close ratios to keep it right in the sweet spot after shifting near the red line.
It is fairly easy to do routine maintenance yourself.
Definitely get an engine code reader so you won't have to guess what the "check engine" light means.
Bring back the "quart low" oil sensor from the E30 - why in God's name would you ever get rid of this feature?
It would be nice if the shocks & bushings lasted longer.
If you buy one make sure the previous owner kept up on the "routine" maintenance -- or else price in a couple grand to replace shocks, bushings, control arms.
I have had my 4 door M3 since 2003. I bought it from a private dealership with only 17K miles on it. I added the Dinan software one day at the dealership on a whim and wow 155 mph and I had to stop. It might have done 160, but who knows, I could also have gone to jail because of that. Used it as a daily drive until 2007. Now it is strictly for weekends and appointments. I have a truck for daily use now. Now have 107K miles. Normal maintenance and no major problems thus far. I could keep this car forever. My 9 year old son loves it and wants me to keep it for him when he gets 16. Yeah right!
Quick and handles great. Great gas mileage on highway (29 mpg). Try and get that out of a 0-60 car in under 6 sec. Harmon Kardon sound system not bad for stock. Lot's of fun to drive. Just beat Ford Mustang GT in race from signal light. You should have seen their eyes when I waved goodbye.
Cup holders too small. As others noted problems with tail light bulbs. Just change the fitting and that will fix the problem. Don't change the whole assy like the dealership wants. A/C could be better. Boy does it goes through tires. Wished the seats were automatic. Too many manual adjustments
I love this car. I wish it would last forever. I bought it used with 15K miles on it in 2002. I have driven it 90K+ miles with 100% reliability, it has never broken down once. This car is so much fun to drive that I can't imagine stepping down to any other car. I am forever spoiled! With 105K miles, this car still feels new. This is not exactly an inexpensive car to own. I get about 23 MPG in mixed city/hwy driving. Tires cost $1K every 25K miles. I have probably spent $5K+ on routine maintenance during the seven years I have owned it. Who cares though, what I love about this car is that it has 4 doors, hauls, gets 23+ MPG, has achieved 100% reliability to date, and is a blast to drive.
Comfy seats, excellent 5-speed transmission, hauls, decent gas mileage.
In my 60s and after driving economy family cars for many years, a friend gave me low down on E36 M3s. Found one cheap with 95k on odometer. Now, excited every time I climb in, even just for the short drive to work. Recently signed up for BMW Club "driver's school" at Watkins Glen and got to run total of over 100 minutes over two days hitting 130, sliding through corners at 80 and passing some hot cars. Will be doing that again! The feel of the road in this thing is so perfect you can't imagine the fun. Plenty of smooth power at all speeds. Quiet, winding country roads are heaven on earth. Shoot past cars when passing. Best way to have an affordable world class driving experience.
Total control through corners. Family car & race car in one (four doors!). Strong, tight and built for rough handling.
Wish for even more power to hang with 'vets. Ride on bad roads a bit harsh for passengers.
I have had my M3 for almost 2 years now and absolutely love it. It is powerful, agile, looks great, and still feels solid even with 113,000 miles on the tach. Only a few problems; ac is very weak and some of the LEDs on the dash are going out, but hey, the car is almost 10 years old. I love how my M3 communicates with the road; the newer BMWs aren't as in tune with the driver. It definitely inspires confidence on the track, although winter driving is very scary. If you can afford to, have a different car for the winter (if you live in a state like Colorado). I plan on driving this car until the wheels fall off. By the way things are looking, that will be a very long time from now.
Power, handling (like it's on rails), build quality, looks.