2002 BMW M3: The Hills Are Alive
October 30, 2008
I have a handful of recurring thoughts when I'm driving our long-term M3, most of them having to do with desperately wanting to own it. But last night I couldn't stop thinking about how it sounds. It's ferocious. It's a snarling tiger rapaciously pouncing on its prey. It's Riswick at a James Bond memorabilia convention. No other car sounds like this, whether you're blipping the throttle on a downshift or banging off a 2-3 upshift at 8,000 rpm. It demands to be driven with the windows down and sunroof open -- even if you have to don a fleece and crank up the heat, as I did yesterday en route to the original Tommy's in downtown L.A. at 10 pm.
Which got me to thinking about Das Vaterland and its automotive soundtracks. It's easy to buy into stereotypes of German austerity and soullessness, but outside of Italy, I think the Germans have got the best-sounding sporting cars on the market. Practically any Porsche sounds sublime, of course, but what's remarkable to me is the recent rise of the bad-ass German V8. Audi's 4.2-liter V8 rumbles with an awesome combination of attitude and refinement, and AMG's 6.2-liter V8 bellows like a Detroit big-block that was sent to finishing school. In fact, the least aurally impressive high-performance German V8 might well be the 4.0-liter V8 in the current M3, and it's certainly no slouch.
In any case, you gotta give props to our M3's inline-6. Definitely one of the most distinctive-sounding engines in recent memory.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 63,355 miles