M People – 400 miles in an M3

Drove an M3 for 400 miles this weekend. Smooth.

Although I have been looking at this car longingly for the past few months, I have always thought it to be a bit of a ‘dumb’ car. Lifeless, soulless and perhaps gaining its fame simply by being an M badge. I base a lot of my car decisions on what the media say, in the case of the M3, they just won’t shut up. So I contacted my local dealers.

Check out my hall of fame and shame and see in more detail what I mean, but after eventually contacting my 3rd dealer, I eventually arranged a test drive (Thanks to Arron Bird for the contact). I had the car for 3 days to make a decision, by the time I drove home home on the first evening, I was convinced. This is the next step for me.

Engine
This car has without doubt one of the finest engines I have ever had the pleasure of using. The press claim it to be the most technologically advanced in the world. I just thought it was exhilarating. Its silky smooth 6 cylinder engine turning into a vibrant, metallic rasp at over 6000 rpm through to the most awesome sound around the 8000rpm mark, sending vibrations through the seat of your pants, literally. Its a dangerous experience though. Addictive as it is to hear the noise on every opportunity, its always in the high rev ranges. But that’s how a car should be. Rewarding you only when you deserve it. Be a hero, it will give you a biscuit. The M3 didn’t show me all its cards you see. Which is nice. Made me believe there was so much more to it. And 15,000 mile service intervals!

Handling
It’s very difficulty for me to lay judgement on a car without being slightly too critical. I am currently used to driving cars that are perhaps of the most adhesive kind in the world. They are, after all, replica rally cars. Their sole purpose is to grip and go with the minimum of fuss. To get into a massively powerful rear wheel drive car and expect even similar levels of grip would be over optimistic. But this car was full of surprises. I would imagine, if I had the appropriate equipment, it would create as much cornering G’s as my Makinen. At one point though, the car showed me who was boss. I turned off traction control at a roundabout I know well and when I accelerated out of the roundabout, the rear end lit up and swung into a lovely powerdrift. It was totally controllable though, had it not caught me by surprise, it would have been poetic. But throwing around a £45,000 car that doesn’t belong to me isn’t my cup of tea.

Ergonomics
Perhaps the simplest, most usable and attractive voice enhanced sat-nav system, terrestrial TV, multifunction onboard computer, cruise control, electric everything. Any toy any boy would ever want exists within this car. Surrounded by lush leather, BMW’s infamous interior dash design and a lovely, grippy steering wheel ensures every drive is an event. Sat nav became quite dangerous for me though, I couldn’t stop playing with it. And blue lights!

Design
You love it or loathe it. It’s a stark contrast for me, coming from the outlandish Chow Yun Fat Makinen, destroying buildings in its wake and demanding attention from everyone within a square mile, to the almost understated, James Bond M3, smooth, cool and almost elegantly respected….by some, at least. I noticed something whilst driving the M3. People sneered at me. I was a evidently giving out the wrong signals! It is also very difficult to distinguish an M3 from say a specced up 318i coupe. To a layman, that is. To the trained eye, however, its 19″ wheels, 4 tail pipes and blistered wheel arches are unmistakably hard not to notice. A choice quote from a bunch of 20 something guys passing by “Check out that beast, its a new M3″.

It was a tragic moment handing back the keys. It reassured me that I wanted it though. A car has to be pretty good in order for me to still want to drive it after a constant 400 mile test drive. Really good. And that it was. Which is why I have sent a cheque for £500.00 to Murketts BMW of Huntingdon.

Now, what do I do during the 12 month wait?

Father to two rodents. Husband to a pillar of support. Buddies with the Norse God of mischief. Director of a creative agency, demomedia.co.uk.

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