BMW's fourth generation M3 comes out with the first V-8 engine in the model line, adding significant power. But the innovation doesn't stop there, BMW equips the M3 with incredible powertrain and modern cabin tech.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
The hood bulge is the most notable design cue on the M3, differentiating it from the 335i and 328i. The air intakes are also unique to the M3. Also, that hood is aluminum.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
This 4-liter V-8 produces 420 horsepower. The double-VANOS valve system has an individual throttle butterfly for each cylinder.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
The M3 can be had in Coupe, Sedan, or Convertible body styles.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
The M3 badge is nicely incorporated with a side marker light.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
The handling is designed to let the rear end step out a little on the curves, just enough to get the car pointed in the right direction.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
The carbon fiber roof shaves 40 pounds from the M3's weight and lowers the center of gravity.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
The trunk is fairly sizable, illustrating the practical side to this car.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
Beyond the M styling cues, the cabin is standard BMW sport luxury. A soft material covers the dashboard, and all the switchgear feels solid.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
The rear seats offer a reasonable amount of leg room for a coupe.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
10
of 26
The car handles very well, whether at speed or driving in traffic. The steering wheel is nice and thick.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
11
of 26
The M button on the steering wheel works to activate a group of preset performance technologies.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
12
of 26
You can customize what the M button does in the M Drive settings, changing the suspension, steering, and throttle response.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
13
of 26
BMW takes a minimalist stance with the gauges, embedding the fuel gauge in the speedometer and oil temperature in the tachometer.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
14
of 26
The six speed manual shifts very smoothly, plus you can hit the Power button for sharper throttle response and the Electronic Damping Control button to put it in Sport mode.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
15
of 26
The root iDrive menu includes areas for navigation, the stereo, cell phone integration, and climate control.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
16
of 26
The maps are rich and colorful on the navigation system, and the Assistance screen, to the right of the LCD can be set to show the trip computer.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
17
of 26
The navigation maps also have a 3D mode.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
18
of 26
Route guidance uses easily readable graphics to display upcoming turns in the Assistance screen. Traffic flow and icons are shown on the main map.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
19
of 26
You can also look at a list of traffic incidents, and get detailed information by clicking any of them.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
20
of 26
You can plug an iPod or USB drive into the USB port in the console. There is also an auxiliary audio input right next to it.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
21
of 26
With the iPod interface, you can choose music by artist, genre, playlist, album, or track.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
22
of 26
HD radio provides better audio quality from any stations broadcasting in HD.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
23
of 26
The six disc changer plays MP3 CDs, but doesn't show ID3 information.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
24
of 26
The audio system sounds good, and can be fine-tuned with this graphic equalizer.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
25
of 26
The cell phone integration downloads contact lists from cell phones when you pair them.
Updated: / Caption: CNET Reviews staff / Photo: CNET Networks
26
of 26
Up Next

Six generations of the Ford Mustang (pictures)