The Nürburgring. The holy grail of vehicle benchmarking. These days, it seems that almost every performance variant of every brand comes to this motor racing temple in search of their next quickest lap time. But few have had the historic honor of testing their platform here for over 30 years. The BMW M3 combines everything we love about driving into a neat little package.
Powered by a bespoke S65 4.0 Liter V8, 8 individual throttle bodies, dual row Vanos and a redline of 8400 rpm gives this M3 a 414 horsepower voice that erupts into a angry wail on acceleration. Equipped with a 6 speed manual to keep your left foot company, 0-60 takes 4.3 seconds and a quarter mile goes by at 12.7 seconds at 114 mph. This is all fine and good, but to buy an M3 for straight line speed only would be like buying a bucket of fried chicken, and throwing away the skin.
To truly understand what an M3 is made to do involves a meditative ritual. You wake up at 5 AM, and pick the squirreliest road you can find on google maps, one that was obviously built before the advent of the ruler you think to yourself, and then slowly warm the car up with light driving as all the fluids come to temperature. Traffic is light and the occasional glance for an enforcement officer ending their shift is instinctual. As you watch the tachometer warm-up indicator creep closer and closer to the 8400 rpm redline, the anticipation of speed is strong. Then the time comes that the prized ribbon of tarmac you have chosen is laid in front of you. With one touch of the M button, the entire car puckers itself for your thrashing. The suspension suddenly turns into a slab of granite and the differential goes into a pre-programmed setting, which combined, provide enough traction to feel it everywhere – even your face, which is trying to smile, but cannot under the tremendous g-force exerted upon it.
With every corner, you learn what the BMW M-Division has been doing at the Nürburgring for the past 30 plus years. Why the M3 has so many DTM wins. Why it has the loyal following that few other cars can match. By the end of your drive you realize what so many other automobile manufacturers are trying to match today. The benchmark. The M3.
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