2009 BMW M3: Personal Day
March 09, 2010
I didn't come to work yesterday, and one thing I did with my free time was to take a real drive in our 2009 BMW M3. I've made far too many laps on the freeway in our sedan not to get it on a proper back road.
Well, my first choice for a back road (the northwestern-most section of Mulholland Highway) was strewn with rocks that had fallen from the cliff-faces during the weekend storms. After gingerly picking my way around those, I decided to check out Yerba Buena. This little road is rougher, tighter and narrower -- but has fewer canyon walls looming over it.
Well, I have to eat a slice of humble pie now. The M3 was not as much fun on this road as our departed 2008 BMW 135i, a car I often said was boring. Partly it was an issue of size. The M3 sedan is significantly longer (180.4 in. vs. 171.7 in.), wider (71.5 vs. 68.8) and heavier (+ 300 pounds), and just did not fit as well on the road. I felt less comfortable diving into blind corners.
The other factor was suspension tuning. Our 135i had a soft setup for a BMW, and this allowed it to smooth out a lot of the roughness on Yerba Buena. Our M3's ride felt brittle by comparison. I didn't touch the EDC button, so the adaptive dampers remained in their default, least sporty setting, but the damping was still too aggressive for this road and the car felt nervous.
I couldn't end the day on at note, though, so we finished up on a smoother road where the M3 was happier. I enjoy the howl of the 4.0-liter V8 on its way to its 8,300-rpm redline, and I love the exhaust snort upon a smoothly executed heel-and-toe downshift.
The car is so quick coming out of corners, and there's so much grip, that it's almost a little too much for public roads littered with rocks and shared with cyclists. Perhaps my next personal day will find us on a racetrack.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 17,792 miles