2009 BMW M3: Screwed, but in a Special Way
December 14, 2009
I was fortunate enough to have the M3 this weekend, and even on the freeway, in steady rain, the 414-hp RWD M3 maintained its composure and its "better-than-the-sum-of-its-parts" character still shined through. So much so that my wife could tell I was driving the M3 with more gusto and enjoyment than most weekend cars. She asked, "So, is this car special?" To which I replied, "Oh, Hon. You have no idea..."
Sure, there are "better" cars on paper; more powerful, more nimble, less expensive, and some would say better looking. But as I listed for my wife all the things that make the M3 the ultimate 3 Series sedan, I realized that it wasn't the parts list, but rather its character that had me hooked.
There's a short list of cars that for me are far better than the sum of their parts: this M3, the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, and the Porsche 911 GT3 come immediately to mind. Yes, they all have an enviable parts list and should be "special" for the amount they cost, but there's more to it than that. It's how the parts are screwed together, the way in which they interact, and the fact that somebody, with an even greater knowledge than me of what makes a car feel the way it does, tuned all its systems to a level of harmony that few manufacturers have ever achieved--and others fail to even notice.
There's one manufacturer (who shall remain nameless) who has a knack for making a vehicle look competitive on paper, even superior in terms of track results, but rarely does the vehicle feel "right" or come close to overall benchmark status because the feedback is all wrong.
Not so in the M3.
After explaining all that to my wife, she said, "I'm happy for you--now can you please stop driving like that?"
"Sorry, Honey. No can do. It wants to be driven like this; it needs to be driven like this--I owe it to the guys who designed and built it."
Oh, and last night, a Sunday night, at around 4:30 pm, I noticed this giant screw-head in the right-rear tire. I checked the pressure, it was the same as the left-rear and from the look of the screw's head, it had been there some time. Rather than run around town and bribe some tire store guy to stay open to either patch or replace the tire, I decided it was safe enough to wait until this morning and take it to Stokes.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 13,405 miles