2002 BMW M3: So You're The One
September 02, 2008
Not to be outdone by the brash little 135i, our long-term M3 also headed north for the holiday weekend. We saw it all, the M3 and I -- stop-and-go traffic from L.A. to Santa Barbara, glorious vistas and vectors along the incomparable Big Sur Coast Highway, and various attractions in San Francisco, from a fort called Battery Rathbone-McIndoe (above) to the Golden Gate Bridge (post-jump). Now, nearly 1300 miles later, I'm ready to take my well-known M3 fanboy status to a whole new level:
If I had to choose one car from our fleet to drive every day, this would be it.
No, BMW has not been sending me extra bottles of M-badged Kool-Aid. The M3 is just that good. It's the only car we've got that gives me a temporary case of Tourette's -- "I bleeping love this car!", "Holy bleep!", etc. -- every time I get behind the wheel.
The primary reason resides under the M3's hood. My fellow enthusiasts, believe you me, this engine is absolutely feral. Our M3 has the much-maligned stock exhaust, and I still nominate it for the "Best Soundtrack At WOT With The Windows Down" award. I obliterated the staff record for most gratuitous rev-matched downshifts in a single weekend (unofficially 247) because I just couldn't get enough of that primal rasp. And it revs so freely that other ostensibly sporting engines feel as dull as dump-truck diesels by comparison.
But the clincher for me is, well, pretty much everything else about this car. It's got the right number of pedals (sorry, GT-R, Evo and R8). The stereo sounds good (better luck next time, WRX STI), as long as you don't mind burning some CDs for the occasion. The backseat is a surprisingly pleasant place for two adults to spend some time (nice try, 135i). And while the shifter may be as rubbery as a plate of calamari, full-throttle 8,000-rpm upshifts in the M3 are worthy of inclusion in William James' magnum opus.
Sure, it's old. Sure, it cost us a mere 30 grand. This is still the best car in our garage.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 61,921 miles