Find a car review

Make
Model
Long term tests

BMW M3

John Barker finds the wet limits of BMW's M3 and gains a new respect

It was a dark and stormy night when we finally bonded, the M3 and me. The roads were slick with rain and when I arrived home after my half-hour drive, I had a much greater respect for the 400-plus bhp BMW.

Thus far, it had failed to hit the highs of my old Audi RS4 long-termer, and the shortfall was all in the detail. Many cars today have variable-weight steering, but with the best-judged systems you’d never know. In the M3, I kept noticing the steering’s lightness peeling into roundabouts. Not that night. All I noticed was that the front end was fantastically well hooked up, so then my attention focused on what was happening at the other end.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

I’m only truly comfortable with a car once I know how it behaves when the grip runs out. You push to the limit, find out what it does, and then when you’re on the right road and travelling at speed, there are no nasty surprises. The opportunities to gather this sort of information on dry public roads are rare, especially with a car like the M3, which has stupendous rear grip and a high-revving engine that only truly delivers at the top end. You have to be pushing very hard. However, when the road glistens in the headlamps, the limits are much lower.

A couple of firm, exploratory prods of the throttle mid-corner in second gear showed the stability control was active. So when I arrived at the next empty roundabout, it was disengaged. Thing is, in the M3 you’re not on your own – the active M-diff is still working with you. Squeeze the throttle mid-corner and you can actually feel it adjust the torque distribution between the rear wheels to give most to the wheel that has most bite, and you exit with a sense of remarkable traction for a rear-driver. But give the throttle a more provacative shove and both rear tyres spin up, and that’s when you discover the superb poise and balance of the M3. First time I felt it, I was heading up a slip-road ramp in third gear, with a quarter turn of opposite lock, and the reach of the engine kept it going for a satisfying yardage. After that, every deserted roundabout and inviting corner was fair game and I arrived home with a grin and a new respect for the M3. Brilliant though it is, an RS4 can’t give you those thrills.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

A week later the M3 was heading for Dover and Car of the Year, and I had a feeling that it might do rather better than I’d originally anticipated – especially if it rained.

Running Costs

Date acquiredAugust 2007
Total mileage4875
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month1225
MPG this month19.4
Advertisement

Have You Considered

Visit/mercedes/gle/201748/2019-mercedes-gle400d-review-a-worthy-original
Mercedes GLE

2019 Mercedes GLE400d review – a worthy original

12 Sep 2019
Visit/porsche/porsche-911-carrera-4/201744/2019-porsche-911-carrera-4-and-carrera-4-cabriolet-detailed
Porsche 911 Carrera 4

2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet detailed

12 Sep 2019
Visit/mercedes/201726/mercedes-amg-electric-car-to-target-porsche-taycan-and-tesla-model-s
Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG electric car to target Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S

10 Sep 2019
Visit/volkswagen/18328/2020-volkswagen-id3-revealed-vws-electric-revolution-is-here
Volkswagen

2020 Volkswagen ID.3 revealed - VW’s electric revolution is here

9 May 2019

Most Popular

Visit/electric-cars/201750/volkswagen-id3-r-considered-the-next-generation-golf-r
electric cars

Volkswagen ID.3 R considered – the next-generation Golf R

Bosses confirm a hot electric VW is under consideration, and we could see it within the next five years
12 Sep 2019
Visit/features/17721/the-best-family-cars-that-are-fun-to-drive
Best cars

Best family cars that are still fun to drive

Saloon, hatchback or SUV, family cars come in all shapes and sizes, and needn’t be a snore to drive. These are some of the team’s favourites.
13 Sep 2019
Visit/land-rover/defender/22607/new-land-rover-defender-2020-4x4-arrives-with-big-muddy-boots-to-fill
Land Rover Defender

New Land Rover Defender – 2020 4x4 arrives with big, muddy boots to fill

The new Land Rover Defender is finally here and can get on with the serious business of replacing a much-loved off-road icon
11 Sep 2019
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019