The engine sounds beautiful and I love the high revs. Grip is outstanding with the 19" wheels. Four door practicality is a huge plus as the Cayman was claustrophobic. The stereo is great and the build quality is very high - you pay more than an STi or Evo, but this is a car you'd proudly give the boss a ride in. Xenon lights are terrific and all 3-series should have them standard. The manual gearbox is a bit notchy in 1st and 2nd. The throws are quite long for a sports car, but clutch travel is perfect and soft. These cars should also come with BMW Assist standard in case of a flat tire - No Spare is a huge issue. I had issues with the Tire Pressure Monitor when I took delivery.
I have owned this car for about 4 months. I was extremely excited about he purchase and initially loved the car. I drove as prescribed during the break-in period and never drove it like a M3 should be. After the break-in period, I only put 300 miles on the car (for a total of 1500 miles) before the car started exhibiting problems. The most recent of which occurred this week with loss of power, slow acceleration, etc. Feels like I am driving a Camry. Took it in for service and they cant seem to be able to find the issue. If they cant resolve the issues, I think I may have bought a lemon. Extremely disappointed in BMW and the car at the moment.
Just picked up a mostly base M3 last week. Manual transmission, leather/cloth interior, no Nav, no tech package. I had an Audi S4 on order, and the BMW people basically sold me on the M3. I was hesitant, but after 350 miles, I am SO glad I went M3. The engine is absolutely silly. It just wants to go. And the rest of the car feels like it's carved out of a block of aluminum, just so solid. I'm still in break in period, but even adhering to the rules, this thing is amazing.
Ive had my M3 for a little over a month now--only put on about 500 miles so far, but its a BLAST to drive. With the 414HP, V8 by far the most powerful car I've ever driven/owned--esp coming from my 2007 IS 250. :) 14 mpg in the city no matter how easy you are on the pedals is a bit annoying, but you have to take good with the bad--kind of a "rare" car depending on where you live. I'm in Houston and Ive seen 2 other coupes, and NO sedans so far, so its nice to stand out a bit. :) Had my M3 "stripped"--i.e. speed cloth, 6MT, no navigation, no EDC, but I don't miss a thing. Love every second in this car--hopefully it holds up after warranty!
My previous car was a 2011 Mustang GT w/ 420 HP. The specs are similar for the M3, but the handling is what sets it apart. The M3 is a blast to drive, but you need to be careful as you will be going 100 without realizing it (be sure to set the speed warning). If you are considering getting one that is out of warranty, consider purchasing an aftermarket one, repairs are costly (2x a normal BMW), and there are a few known weak points (throttle actuator valve, bearings) that are quite costly.