My E46 really is an awesome vehicle. In this car you can enter a turn using all engine-braking, turn the wheel and the car will seem to make a perfect pivot, as if it had been planted on that point. If you go in too fast, an instant of understeer will slow the car to the right speed and then the lightning quick turn will begin. It really is tough to drive it poorly (in good driving conditions of course). The engine sings. I saw a review that said the exhaust note is inadequate, I found the engine to have a beautiful sound, it actually sounds similar to a racecar, very nice.
This is a car that is so good looking, I walk away from it backwards so I can keep looking at it. I've put 7,000 miles on it, and continue to look forward to the next drive! What a balanced package; taut, yet supple, suspension, quickness, and turns are fun again! The last of BMWs great inline NA 6 cylinder engines has won Ward's International Engine of the Year award in its 3.2 liter class for at least five consecutive years. One drive, and I know why. The SMGII tranny is a blast to operate. It's a 6 speed manual tranny, and you modulate the gas pedal just like you would on a stick shift. I can shift aggressively, for fun and speed; or smoothly, for passengers. It's all about timing.
I have always wanted an M3 since I was a kid. After owning a normal 3-series it was time for fun. I first drove the new 2008-2010 M3 with V8 and while it looks nice and very luxurious it was too soft for a performance car. I then drove the E46 M3 and was blown away by the incredible performance! It's fast as Porsche at half the cost and twice the ability to use as a normal daily driver and more useful. So I bought a perfect 2006 BMW M3 with competition package. The stopping power of the M3 brakes are incredible and blow away most other cars. I am not a fan of the newer iDrive and fortunately this car does not have it.
If you have not had the chance to drive this car, then like Napoleon D. says, "You don't even know!!" I have owned Porsches and recently driven a Z06; this car is way more fun. It is easily the best sports car under 75Gs. Unfortunately the last M3 with a straight 6 has already been made, and only a few are still available. (By the way - get the stick!)
I picked up my car yesterday and can't stay out of it.The handling, power delivery, and brakes are completely dialed in without being too harsh. I considered the S4 and like 911's, the M3 should make me forget about those. I don't think I'd need a 400 HP v8 that the next one has, after all, It'll take some time to learn all that this model has to offer. Looking forward to some track days.