With the last M3 coupe rolling off the assembly line recently, it’s finally time to close the book on one of the greatest badges ever to grace a car. Okay, so I’m being a little bit melodramatic and I’m aware that the M3 badge will live on (albeit on a saloon) as will the traditional coupe once its spiritual successor the M4 arrives, but still, a part of me knows that things won’t be quite the same again.
With tougher environmental legislations, we’re under no illusions that the next M cars will be turbocharged and you don’t have to look far (F10 M5) to see that the new generation of M have already lost that special something. Gone are the glorious, high revving V10s, V8s, i6s, i4s that the M cars are synonymous with, and in their place the comparatively soulless and turbocharged power plants to appease the environmentalists. I’ve no doubt that the new cars will probably be faster, but we all know it’s about something much more important than that…
For now, we can only look back and try to decide which chassis was the most worthy of that M badge. Voting closes at midnight on Thursday July 18th GMT.
Whats with all the pressure charging hate?It's not like adding a turbo loses soul, half of the world's car scene would agree that adding a turbo makes a car better.You can't ever say that turbos are just to please environmentalists, 'cause we all know they do so much more than that.
it is completely ironic to include the BMW M3 E30 into a "which M3 is the best M3 ever?" poll.
this is because the E30 M3 is easily one of the top 10 cars ever, so it is more than obvious.
the real poll would be "which non-E30 M3 is the best M3 ever?".
and the answer to that is, of course - the E46.
life is good.
"The M3 is dead. Long live the M4"
No question about it, the newer, the better but the oldest the cooler. So M3 E30 is the best.
i love the E46 M3 and have it squarely in my sights as my next car, but i still voted E30. Just so iconic.
Not a fan of the turbo bmw motors, it's just an excuse to build a new motor out of low cost parts where the old engines were an attempt at perfection. Everybody is getting fooled with the whole gas mileage / less displacement mumbo jumbo and the car companies love it because costs to produce the car go way down.
I've driven them all and would never own anything newer than an e36. The newer iterations lack the nimble responsiveness that made the M3 such an enjoyable sports coupe to drive. Superior power, better tires, and more advanced suspension geometry can only go so far to make up for the bloated dimensions and over a quarter ton of curb weight that M3 has packed on over the generations. Sure, the older models may not win on a drag race, but daily driving a car that's has the ability to regularly put a smile on your face is priceless.
As with all companies the M3 got "watered down" by BMW in the pursuit of sales.
The E30 was (and is) the car for those up at 4am side road/mountain road drivers.
The best M3 is the one in your driveway or garage. In my case, the best M3 is an E36 2-door with a manual transmission.
The best M3 for Southern California roads is the E30; suspension travel and tall sidewalls coupled with a narrow body (compared to the modern cars) mean rapid progress through our potholed and cracked-up back roads. Our speed limits are asinine, so something that has lower limits is something that is more fun in the real world. My second pick for SoCal is the E36 with 17x8s or 17x8.5s with 225/45s all around- still enough outright grip to have fun, but a better ride, taller sidewalls to keep the wheels straight, and the ability to throttle-steer or rotate the rear under braking at will.
The best M3 for European roads is the E46 on 18" wheels- good combination of ride and handling, and it's still narrower than the E9x M3. The E9x suffers from being too grippy and too fast; it's unusable without exceeding the speed limit by a large margin.
What I really want in the next M3/4 is... what the 1-series M gave us. Curb weight under 3,300lbs, tidy dimensions, lots of fun. What the world will get is another bloatmobile with unusable limits and too much power.
I love all of the M3's but I'd kinda buy an E60 M5 :)
That V10 sound is the best sound a car has ever made :D
@ chris H I agree with that sentiment and perhaps I was a bit to quick to judge. I have nothing against turbos but I prefer NA . It stings when a bit of the magic that makes something special for me is pressured to be replaced with bureaucracy. I would rather turn the page, solidify the m3 as having been perfect but thats just me.
Blue E92 4 door> Silver E46 CSL lowered on stock wheels
You cant include the E30. Its the motorist equivalent of a made man, you just cant.
I wanted to say E46 because it's such a brilliant car, but the E30 is such an icon I had to vote for it.
I don't think this is the death of the M3 at all, I think it's a rebirth. I understand where you're coming from Paddy, but I completely disagree that turbo engines are soulless compare to the NA motors of the past.
The turbo engine in the 335 has way more torque down low and actually pulls noticeably harder than the M3 did even at the top end. The M has a little bit of a weight advantage, and you can feel a noticeable difference between the M''s ability to rev and the 335s, however the 335 still delivers a lot more off the line and in the mid range. If you fitted a limited slip to the 335 I have no doubt it would be faster than the E46 M3 around a track despite the weight disadvantage (provided the cars were on same rubber of course).
Having said that, look at this dyno graph of a stock for stock comparison of the E92 M3 (V8) the E46 M3 (NA straight 6) and the 335i (twin turbo straight 6)
Peak numbers on the E46 are higher than the 335, but look at where the 335 develops it's power early on compared to the M3. The M3 only pulls ahead in the last 2,000 rpm. More interesting than that IMO is the fact the 335 is making more torque than the E92's V8.
I understand where you're coming from since I raced a car that was naturally aspirated and currently race a 125cc two stroke kart, but this new era of turbo motors enables people to pass emissions and created a lot more torque down low which is where you need power for daily driving or winding roads.
Still awesome cars though and it'll be sad to see them go. The E30 M3 gets my vote.
Diluting the M3 to appease the eco fascist would be worse . Going out on top is better than fading away. Maybe a new legacy can be born.
1 series M, arguably the best M car ever built stopped production almost exactly one year ago. All high horsepower M cars are either turbo or supercharged. I fail to see how the M cars are dead. Do we know the specs on the new M cars? Have you driven them? Are you a time traveler from the future that hates innovations from the future? All valid questions, don't knock em till you try em. BMW created the M car, why are they being written off so quickly as if they have never proven their greatness before?
I prefer straight sixes to little inline fours, and the E36 does nothing for me. E92 is yet another german saloon car with a V8, hoo-ray (sure it may be one of the best of them but that doesn't automatically make it interesting. The very absolute best dental drill is still only interesting if you are, in fact, a dentist)
I voted for the e30, but then again...if I see any M version of a BMW 3 serie (or any BMW)...I will stare the shit out of it. I think it would be fun and great if BMW made a new e30 m3....a great example is Ford with his Mustang, they went back to the roots. BMW should do the same with there 4 serie
I'm sure the E30 is going to dominate this poll, but I voted E46 (because the CSL is a pumped-up and screaming thing of beauty, and its inline-6 is surely one of the greatest 6-cylinder engines ever). Thing is, all four M3s qualify as some of the greatest performance cars of their respective periods. I don't think BMW made a bad M3.
Having spent a couple of days in a new M6, I don't feel as if BMW has lost the plot by taking its M-cars down the turbocharged route. Sure, the era of naturally-aspirated M-cars is over, but turbo M-cars can be exciting too, right? The new engines aren't inferior, just different, in the same way that the E36's six was different to the E30's four, and the E92's V8 was different to the E46's I6. I'm not complaining. Just so long as the next M3/M4 isn't a petrol-electric hybrid. Then I'd be pissed off.
E46, because of the CSL and the GTR. But the original will always have a special place in my heart. I can't believe they've killed the M3. One of the automotive universe's biggest icons. What a shame.
i have a feeling its going to be the e30 by a landslide but the e46 is the m3 that really captraud my heart i will never forget the first time i saw it when i was about 10 its was a smg coupe in phoenix yellow the owner let me sit in it & from that day i was hooked (still saving up to get 1 just like that)
This is a bit of a sentimental vote as it is my father's 65th birthday this evening. He owned an E36 and an E46. As a young kid, both were unobtainably cool cars; however, I will vote for his wishes as he believed the E46 to be the best car he has ever driven in terms of balance, handling, and response. Cheers to a petrol loving father who instilled a love of fantastic machinery unto his son.
E30. The genesis, the origin, the dream. The perfect synergy of a racecar in a road car dress-up. I am so sad the M3 is dead, so very sad =(
@soobjm Fooled by the gas mileage and displacement? You do realize that turbo engines routinely hit over 100% volumetric efficiency which means they not only have more displacement than they are quoted as having, but are using the cylinder more efficiently. Efficient use of fuel = better mileage.
If you have an NA 1000cc cylinder that operates at 85% VFE and I have a turbocharged cylinder of the same size that is operating at 110% VFE you do realize I am actually flowing more air than the 1000cc cylinder can in theory hold right?
It's much more difficult to hit over 100% VFE NA than it is with a turbo or supercharged engine. Ask any engine builder.
@Novac Darius Yeah sounds like a diesel at idle.
@KevinKupiec I actually like NA as well, but having driven a variety of turbo engines and having been in some real monster turbo builds I am just as impressed with them. For me it all depends on the application and if one works better than the other I'm all for it. I come from a mountain road background so I like super light, short wheelbase cars with high revving engines that rev free and easy, very progressive and linear power bands are my preference.
We all love the M3 and I do think it's a shame to see politics coming into sports cars and affecting the mainstream way of building a vehicle, but times change and you have to move with them. And on that note I do agree with Paddy that the M3 is dead. One of the life changing moments I had was the opportunity to ride shotgun in a Carrera GT up to triple digit speeds on a mountain road and I can't even explain how the exhaust note and the torque of that motor made me re think everything I thought I knew about cars. If you take away the howl of the GT's V10 and the absolute animosity to which it revs its no longer the same car. To this day when I can afford a super car I will probably buy a CGT first even if there are better options on the market.
RIP to the M3, but we hope and pray that it is resurrected to be something greater than the sum of its parts so future generations can enjoy what we all have had the opportunity to partake in.
Theres nothing wrong with being quick to judge, it shows that you have an emotional investment in a philosophy which to me is what cars are all about. We all have our fingers crossed now...
E92 4 door.. what?
I think you just proved Paddy's point and also completely missed it, too.
ITS NOT ABOUT POWER TO ENJOY A CAR.
We cant all race where you do need power (within the rules) to win, but we can enjoy
1. Feeling the g's a lighter car wil pull when you fling it into a corner and power out
2. Touching a steering wheel/manual shifter/sequential- no autonomous cars for me!
3. Hearing a NA engine. They sound better- FACT
4. Smelling fumes from a decatted engine - GROW MORE TREES.
5. Seeing a beautiful car because it A. sits like a racecar or B.looks radical and doesnt fit the mold
I will have to agree that this is not the death of the M3. New management will come along and see how silly
BMW is getting and the M3 will be made again.
@Novac Darius only when cold due to the remap for emissions in the US, euro tune it and voila! bye bye diesel at idle WHEN COLD
Even though the TURBO has come back and is all mighty, this is not the point. The point is that the M3 should be about pleasure and precision, not sheer power and performance. The M3 never was the fastest, but was the greatest. From now on, they will pursue just that and forgetting the pleasure. But this is not BMW fault. This is the new life inc. Old school is no longer cool or ok. It's "not safe" or "efficient".
I think you missed my point. With ever increasing emissions standards, if you want to go fast turbos are the way of the future. It's a really odd thing we are seeing right now in the industry from manufacturers, but I can't say I'm complaining much:
1. G-force is independent of the type of aspiration an engine has and deals with parameters of weight, suspension, mechanical grip and downforce. There is no reason why you can't create a light weight turbo car. F1 engines in the past had them and were capable of producing plenty of G-force.
2. autonomous cars have nothing to do with the type of induction an engine uses. I'm against autonomous cars but thats a whole different can of worms and is really a side track from the topic at hand.
3. NA engines do sound better than turbo engines...thats a bi product of turbine blades acting as a kind of muffler to chop up exhaust gases. From my personal experience in several cars that produced over 1000hp the last thing I was thinking about during WOT acceleration was how the car sounded. Just a personal opinion there and I do enjoy the sound of a NA flat 6 porsche engine or the V10 wail of a Carrera GT. Besides there is something to be said for making big power without alerting every authority in a 5 mile radius that you are coming (think Huayra vs. Zonda).
4. People in populated areas such as Los Angeles have to have cars smogged. If you want to go fast and you have to get your car smogged (and you want to be legal) you're going to run into problems. The new wave of turbo engines allow enthusiasts to experience the speed they want while staying legal. Again, not saying that you have to have huge power to enjoy a car. For the guys who prefer an NA Miata or AE86 this will leave them unaffected for the most part because it's not their concern to begin with.
5. A beautiful car again has nothing to do with the type of aspiration an engine has. I have no idea what you meant by that comment.
The fact is we are seeing turbo motors that produce more bottom end than their NA equivalents and allow enthusiasts to have the power they want on the street while still remaining emissions compliant and legal in the eyes of the law. We will all miss the cars of the past but times change and manufacturers have to adapt. I'm sure people were having similar conversations when they introduced the catalytic converter or fuel injection and that hasn't ruined peoples ability to enjoy cars, go fast, or do whatever they want to do with their automobile.
@KevinKupiec Thanks man!
That combination of the crease and the pumped out rear fender can only be
appreciated in person. Its genius or luck and i love it.
+++ the wife thinks its a good safe reliable practical car lol