Believe it or not, I recently sold a new BMW 320d Coupe M Sport after only six months because I couldn’t get used to a saloon car after driving a 4x4 for seven years.
And I have to admit that when I accepted the invitation to test drive the new M3 Coupe Saloon Convertible, I had got myself right back into my 4x4 comfort zone and wondered just how I would take to life in a car designed for good looks and sports performance.
Of course, what this statement should tell you is that I obviously don’t know enough about cars, because there are few on the road which are as exciting to drive and as great to look at as this one.
From the minute the M3 pulled into the car park, heads were turning and, not only did it look fantastic, but the sound of its engine was enough to attract immediate attention from anyone within earshot. And so began my technical education on this new-generation M3, which boasts a rip-roaring 400bhp via its 4-litre V8 engine, is capable of 0–62mph in a screaming 4.8 seconds and has a roar that can only be described as simply sensational.
Typically of BMW, refinement and sports car performance have been combined to deliver a car that is equally comfortable around town as on the race track.
In fact, the last time I experienced driving exhilaration like this was on a corporate day at Donnington and I have to say that, from memory, the M3 would have easily held its own that day against some serious competition.
Despite the power, the M3 was easy to handle, the ride smooth and the cockpit functional.
Hey, one day in a sports car and I’m already sounding like Jeremy Clarkson! Bankers are generally not renowned for being the most flamboyant people and my safe, secure and reserved 4x4 probably speaks volumes for me, so the M3 would generally only be my car of choice in my dreams.
But it looks fantastic with the roof down and makes such an impact both in looks and in the handling that it was difficult to let it go at the end of the day; 4x4 comfort zone or not.
There are a few practical issues, obviously, particularly when you’ve got a family, as storage is limited and the back seat can only accommodate two people, with space also restricted by the mechanism for the hood.
Rear seat passengers also need to be fairly nimble, but then you don’t buy a car like this to ferry the family and its various detritus around the place.
I also found myself totting up the fuel consumption, which gave my Range Rover a run for its money, but again, if you’re in the market for one of these, why would you have an eye on the fuel guage? To my mind, the M3 isn’t really built for your conservative, technically ignorant average banker, though of course there are plenty in my profession who don’t fit that cliche and would appreciate every inch of this model.
For this is, without doubt, a driver’s car, where the superb build quality and exhilarating performance cannot fail to impress. Not only that, the sheer fun of the drive is a major selling point. So, my day driving the M3 proved that perhaps my 4x4 comfort zone needs a good shake now and again.
There’s a world of difference between this car and my more conservative vehicle of choice and I ended the day totally enthused by it. I have also since been trying to recreate verbally that sensational engine sound for my friends and colleagues, to their obvious amusement! However, I will never do the car the justice it deserves. You just have to go and drive it.
The BMW M3 convertible starts at £54,302, and the model Chris drove was priced £62,360.