2009 BMW M3 sedan

BMW M3 sedanOh. My. God.

A friend of the family owned the previous generation M3, and he once took me for a spin. I’d been in BMWs before, but this was the kind of car you dreamt about when you were sixteen and thinking about your perfect ride. The lines were clean, the convertible top was very cool, and it sounded like it wanted to kill you if it got the chance, just for fun. The power was awesome, bordering on insane.

The border is now gone. The new M3 is not only insane, but thrilled to death about it.

I’ve driven a few cars with this kind of power. My dad’s 1969 Pontiac Firebird. A fire truck. Yep, that’s the whole list.

There’s a reason they don’t give sixteen-year-olds a car like this. I’ve never been to the far side of seventy so quickly, short of an amusement park ride. The engine wound all the way out to eight-thousand RPM like it wondered what the hell I’d been waiting for. First gear is way too short, so short that it makes me question why they bothered. It’s got enough oomph to get going in second gear all day long (I know; I tried). But it’s how that power gets to the wheels that puts a smile on your face and a stiffy in your shorts.

The power is smooth, from way down low to way too high. The clutch was a thing of beauty; not too hard, not too soft, just the way Goldilocks likes it. The brakes were nothing spectacular, but then again, I never really had to stomp on them. The whole car is balanced on a razor’s edge. Explains the lacerations.

I’ve read a few dozen articles over the years about how composed the M3s have always been, how linear their responses are to your every whim. I always assumed they were kidding. They weren’t. The M3 is about the best car I’ve ever driven. I hit a turn marked “25 MPH” at around fifty, tagged the apex, and hammered the gas in third until we were cruising at something north of seventy-five. It absorbed bumps and ignored the ruts. And it did all of this with the suspension set to “Comfort.”

The trunk is big enough for two and a half bodies, so long as you don’t mind stretching to retrieve whichever body goes in first. The driving position is perfect. The rear seats are tight, and headroom is almost nonexistent for someone in my height range (6’1”), but if you’ve got kids, they’ll fit just fine. And they’ll love you for it. Our tester had the base cloth seats, which I didn’t particularly care for. And in a car that costs this much ($65,000 or so), they should use quality fabrics, not the stuff you find on folding lawn furniture.

The controls are where the M3’s story takes a wrong turn. One word: iDrive. Even the stripped down version is needlessly complicated. When the dealer brought the car around, he spent a full forty seconds going through the menus, making sure we were all set to go. Granted, the M3 will make short work of that lost time, but whatever happened to good old-fashioned buttons? They got the job done, and without having to make sure my reading glasses were on.

Also, the Generalissimo wanted me to add that there is no wagon version, for which he will never forgive BMW. They make a Touring version of the M5, but they don’t import it to the US. Our loss.

Sedan, coupe, convertible, I don’t care. I want an M3. I need one. So do you.


The Generalissimo looked left. He looked right. We were clear for take-off.

And yet we didn’t move.

“Is there a problem, sir?” I asked.

“No! No problem!”

“Then why are we still sitting here?”

“No reason!”

“Um…we need to test this car. Actually, you need to test this car.”

“I am!”

“You’re not.”

“I am pacing myself!”

I sighed. I was afraid of this. He’d been in the passenger seat while I drove the M3 sedan around town for twenty minutes, whooping and hollering as we went. I think I may have scared him at one point, only because he made the sign of the cross and began muttering to himself in Greek.

“If you’re afraid this is too much car for you—”

“Never!” He peeled out, cutting off a school bus and making rude noises with the tires. If my driving scared him, then I had no adequate way to describe what his driving was doing to me. I just closed my eyes and prayed for deliverance.

“This is fun! We should get one of these! We can leave it at the Ant Hill and release it from it cage when the forces of villainy are once again marshaling their strength!”

“Or we could not cut off the nice man in the cement truck

“That’s the spirit! I salute you!” He saluted.

I grabbed the wheel. Good thing, too, because he’d been in the middle of drifting us through a major intersection, tires aflame, small children screaming, baked good running in fear for their lives. When he took his hands off the wheel, it unwound, sending us hurtling toward a fuel truck. He held the salute; I’ll give him that. I forced the wheel hard left, just as we nearly clipped a few thousand gallons of the good stuff.

“Thank you for your assistance! I salute you!”

“Ah, crap.” He didn’t take his foot off the gas, so I had to steer from the passenger seat as we accelerated toward yet another truck, this time a nice pretty green one with a sign letting me know it was full of HCl. Ah, sweet hydrochloric acid. We entered the freeway. The back end tried to come around, but the Generalissimo released his salute and took control. Third gear. Fourth. The M3 pulled us toward triple digits so hard I could feel my heart hammering against my spinal column.

“Can we go back yet?” I said. Begged is closer to the truth.

“Never!” He downshifted, tapped the brakes, and sent us sideways across three lanes of traffic until we were in the carpool lane. Then, he stood on the gas. “Carpooling is my way of thanking Mother Nature for her plentiful bounty! Like bacon

“Where exactly are we going?”

“Who cares!” Another shift, another kick in the pants.

Man, what a car.

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