We take this omission seriously. Plus, internet points matter less to us than driving satisfaction, so our long-term M3 has a mere 473 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual transmission. So far, we think it's the right one to live with for the next 40,000 miles.
Say what you will about the M3's novelty-sized snout, we think the optional Isle of Man Green Metallic paint ($550) makes up for it. Paired with the M Shadowline black inlay in the front headlights ($300) and 18-inch wheels, the exterior has the kind of presence that elicits compliments from folks in parking lots.
The $900 M Drive Professional option includes a track mode setting, 10-stage traction control (yes, 10), a feature that scores your drifts, and lap-timer functionality that works via an app on your phone. All in, our M3 came to $77,825.
Between that service and the 3100-mile mark, the owner's manual advised, "Engine and road speed can gradually be increased to a constant speed of 137 mph," but to "use the maximum speed of 155 mph only briefly, for instance when passing." Check.
The manual's short gearing means the engine spins at around 3000 rpm in sixth at freeway speeds, which has made some staffers wonder if there was a seventh gear. On the other hand, most passing maneuvers don't require a downshift—even those at less than 155 mph.
The falling temperatures necessitated a set of winter wheels and tires. Alas, we were unable to find a set in the aftermarket, so we went directly through BMW. The winter package included four 19-inch wheels and a set of Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 tires for a hefty $3710.
Considering the car's power, rear-wheel drive, and sensitive steering, the package has fared well. We've enjoyed the driving satisfaction that is inherent in the M3 name—especially one with a manual transmission. The automatic-only Competition may be quicker, but we're happy with our choice so far. We'll see how the luster lasts over the course of 40,000 miles.
Months in Fleet: 4 months Current Mileage: 3332 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 19 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.6 gal Observed Fuel Range: 290 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0