The debate rages on among enthusiasts; is the new M3 really an improvement?
BMW has followed the herd in downsizing its engines and opting for twin turbochargers to deal with the ever-present issue of emissions. Most of the manufacturers are going that way, but if you ask the engineers, in private, they’ll quietly nod and agree that they’d prefer a naturally-aspirated engine.
So if you’re spending your hard-earned money on a performance car, is the environmental issue really the most pressing concern? Or do you want a car that makes the hairs on the back of your neck tingle every time you press the throttle? If it’s the latter, you might want to consider saving a boatload of money and buying a used V8.
The last generation M3, the E90 and E92 models, are considered some of the finest cars in the world. The coupe, in particular, was tuned for sublime, sportscar handling and there’s a 2009 model in stock for just £24,990, compared to £56,175 for a new model. That’s quite a saving, no matter how you look at it.
It goes well beyond money, though; the 4-litre V8 is widely considered one of the most exciting engines found in any saloon, ever. It’s 414bhp is marginally down on the newer car, but it responds so freely, revs so fast and sounds so much better that the overall experience is just more fun.
Again, the newer turbo car is marginally faster on a race track, but we don’t live on race tracks. On the road, there’s nothing to choose between them and the general feeling in the press is that the last generation M3 just had the X factor. The new one does not.
So if you want the very best BMW M3 on the market right now, you might want to look past the new cars and go for something a little older, a little more characterful and just a little more fun.