M3 Purchased – Born Again

It’s been a long time.

Putting aside my frivolous dally with the C63 AMG back in 2012, it’s been nearly four years since I sold my last decent car and I’ve basically endured a drought of such magnitude it would sap the very soul out of a stoutest of men. Yet I endured.

And despite all my exposure to exotics and world class cars, I was very excited with this purchase. Buying the car instigated the usual ritual of setting a budget and blowing it within 5 minutes of browsing the classifieds. I will also admit to hopping from choice to choice, starting out at the M3, being tempted by a Cayman R, making an offer on a 2013 Boxster S and then coming full circle back to an M3.

There’s a few on the market, but only ever about 6 cars with the Competition Pack. This is a facelift package that comes with the CSL allows, revised and lower suspension, some better programming of the DCT (paddleshift auto) and some other things I forget.

I first settled on a Red car up north – it was in the trade and the car looked absolutely spectacular but I got put off by some reports, so I skipped that one. I then went to Hexagon BMW in Highgate to see three cars there. At a main dealer premium you’d expect the cars to be of top quality but I was absolutely shocked at how bad the paint quality was and how poorly prepped the cars were.

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Suddenly, my example popped up. What immediately stood out was the interior. It’s a cross between orange, red and brown and looks absolutely fantastic. I put a deposit down immediately and within 24 hours I was inside the car getting a hand over.

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For a 2 year old car I was amazed a the quality. It was absolutely pristine and looked like it had been pampered its whole life.

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A well specced car, it had all the right bits and in the special pearlescent Mineral White had an absolutely fantastic finish which really compliments the massive CSL wheels.

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I’ve now done nearly 300 miles in 24 hours – mostly because I had to drive it back from Nottingham, but I’m already in love with this car. It’s so full of delightful character, there’s a distinct cheekyness about the car that is often in stark contradiction with its ridiculous, naughty soundtrack.

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I was looking originally for a C63 again. Clearly I’ve rose tinted spectacles because I forget how that car is essentially a very loud and very fast limo. After a week with that car I’d started to get very bored with it despite its power advantage. But that sound was incredible and the power was addictive. I did not have the faith in the M3 and was convinced I’d be missing the AMG. How wrong was I.

One could own a car simply on the merits of this exhaust and engine note. It pops, bangs, warbles in that classic V8 guise enough to warrant entry to NASCAR with honours.

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But to reduce the M3 down to its acoustic merits is doing it a massive disservice. Combined with that 7 speed dual clutch transmission, it’s one of the finest drivetrains I’ve ever enjoyed and is mated wonderfully to each other.

The 4.0 V8 is a peaky engine. Its 420BHP is easily accessible as the car has enough torque to warrant short shifting but then to do so is to deny it that operatic wail that goes all the way past 8000 RPM. I’m not even going to talk about the gratuitous downshifts on maximum attack mode, blipping the throttle enough to wake any wildlife in the surrounding county.

There’s a sweet balance in the car – both in its agility and poise. There’s a real bite in the front and I’ve not yet experienced any understeer, but then with that lump over its front that’s no surprise. What it does do though with aplomb is oversteer. It’s progressive, gradual and so easy to control I can only assume it’s the Fisher Price of drift cars. Having learnt to play with rear engined GT3s, doing the same in this M3 is so easy one could do it with your eyes closed.

It is heavy though. You can feel it especially coming out of fast corners and you can’t help but feel it could do with another 50BHP, but then this is the exact criticism everyone levies upon every perfect chassis.

It’s 23:00 and even though I’ve just waxed it, I’m desperately fighting the temptation to go out in the rain for another blitz – the last time I wanted to do that was 6 years ago and that is the best thing I can say about the M3.

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