I wanted an e46 M3 or e39 M5 since they were introduced. Finally bought '02 M3 MT coupe in 2010. WOW, what a machine! Perfectly balanced, high-revving and powerful engine (love the exhaust note), great in the corners, stops on a dime. Other cars, including the M5, may be faster but this one is just a blast to drive every day. If you're accustomed to owning non-M BMWs, be prepared to spend 3X or more per year to maintain this vehicle. If that's not a problem, then you're going to love this car - it is a true performer! I understand why Edmunds says this will be one of their favorites of all time. I also understand why none of the editors bought it after the long-term test :)
Finally got to buy a 2002 SMG M3 Interlagos Metallic Blue Coupe, what a car! Just have it for two month now, got it with 109,500 on it, and had put it over 1,000 miles already, the only thing I did was change the throttle body sensor and change the oil, everything was about U$375.00 in an aftermarket BMW shop ( don't dare to go to the dealer, they will charge you U$160.00 just to read your car with the computer) so the EML and Engine service soon light went away! Yes it can be a litter expensive to maintenance, but the car won't be breaking every week or turning EML or engine service soon lights on, Is a daily driving car,with no problems!
My M3 is Imola Red with the Red/Black interior. It has all options including the nav system and SMG II sequential manual gearbox which is great! The "automatic" mode is a godsend in stop and go traffic. I didn't buy this car for fuel efficiency, which is a good thing. The best I've averaged on the hwy was about 21...and I've already seen some 15 mpg "in town" tanks. As such, the 16.5 gallon tank empties FAR too quickly, with fill ups as often as 250 miles.