The BMW M3 is one of the finest driver's cars ever made, and I was finally lucky enough to spend a week with one.
The heart of the M3 is an exquisite 4.0L V8, making 414hp at a wild 8300rpm. Peak torque is 295 lb-ft, but that entire figure is available at just 3900rpm, a stunning mark of tractability in such a high-revving screamer.
Our test car was equipped with a 7-speed DCT (BMW's name for the fancy dual-clutch gearbox), and the transmission—like other vehicle characteristics like throttle response and suspension—can be adjusted from 'nice and easy' to 'neckbreaking.'
2011 M3s equipped with this transmission have gone as low as 3.9 sec to 60mph, and 12.5 sec in the 1/4-mile. Yet due to the engine's powerband, it's remarkably civilized around town.
Gearing is perfect; even in 7th gear, the car is never caught flat-footed. In fact, at 2000rpm in 7th the car will be going just 50mph! That is great for acceleration, bad for fuel economy: the M3 manages just 14 mpg city and 20 highway and gets slapped with the gaz-guzzler tax.
That's really the only chink in the car's armor, and the M3 instantly became the car by which I measure all sports cars by.
—Ross Rapoport, Road Test Editor and Video Host
Download the window sticker and see additional photos of the M3 at http://roadflytv.com
Vehicle: 2011 M3 Coupe
Base Price: $58,400
Price as tested: $69,925
Engine: 4.0L 32V V8
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual (DCT)
Horsepower: 414 @ 8300 rpm
Torque: 295 lb.-ft. @ 3900 rpm
0-60 MPH: 3.9-4.5 sec.
Warranty: 4 years, 50,000 miles w/free maintenance
Fuel Economy: 14 city / 20 highway MPG
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