The BMW E46 M3 is an inspiring car. The power from factory is more than enough for day to day commuting - remapping will increase torque by approximately 22-25NM and the car will feel a thousand times more responsive.
The E46 M3 has dropped in price now - with a tidy example costing between £8000-£12,000. I really enjoyed my time with this particular car. De-badging a sports/performance car really does it for me. I am actually glad the owner has removed the M3 badge from the rear, the exhaust tailpipes are enough of a clue ;-)
Fast forward the minutes I spent photographing this thunderstorm of a car and I'm sat comfortably in the cockpit. Driving manual transmission exhausts me these days - what with modern Sports and Super Cars all having some form of PDK/DSG/TIP option. I did expect a laboured few days with this car, getting agitated in traffic but to my surprise there wasn't any irritation at all. This car is perfect.. and I shouldn't say that but it is PERFECT. For what these vehicles cost you honestly get a perfectly balanced and well set up machine to enjoy.
Much more sturdy than the lower 'marque' models in the E46 range. The uprated suspension chosen by BMW works well - but they do wear so be sure to check/replace if necessary. They can start to feel like a Bouncy Castle if maintenance isn't kept up.
I love the styling of the exhausts - they sit perfectly, all four tailpipes demonstrating this is not a standard BMW 3 Series. The bonnet screams testosterone and is one of the most aggressive bonnets you will find on a car. Thankfully BMW have kept its presence in the newer E92 M3, and if you read my BMW 'F34' M4 review you will see the trend continues.
SIDEWAYS!!!! Hahahaaa what a car! This thing is so well B A L A N C E D.
If you happen to oversteer it is a pleasure to control. I deliberately flicked the arse out a couple of times and didn't feel worried about controlling the car. It would make a great drift car with its Limited Slip Differential and an eager engine that sings to 8000RPM. Another great feature when using the throttle is the factory limit which lowers the RPM's when you first start the engine. This is a great feature - however - any driver with mechanical sympathy will give the car at least 5 minutes before easing it into full pelt! Remember to consider your oil (and gearbox oil) temperature before going crazy in your cars.
Yes.. I know we covered the exhaust's menacing looks and how appealing it is to many car enthusiasts, but the sound from an E46 M3 is something you will either love, or hate. I personally love the standard exhaust system on these motors - similar to a motorbike - it makes one HELL of a RACKET as you climb up the rev counter. This car has a cat-back exhaust system which drones a bit once warm. I don't have a problem with modified exhausts but do prefer them factory (to preserve the manufacturer's design).
All in all, this is such an amazing car. I enjoyed myself so much I didn't want to take it back! Many thanks to 'Scott' the vehicle owner for letting me borrow his car for the review. Maybe when he decides to sell I'll take the plunge and buy it ;-)
Nicholas Lawrence //ON CARS