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Photos: 2008 BMW M3 Coupe

The 2008 BMW M3 is a tame lion, easy to handle among traffic and urban driving, while ferocious on the track or out in the hills. Its cabin electronics are amongst the best available.

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CNET Reviews staff
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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.
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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.
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This 4-liter V-8 produces 420 horsepower. The double-VANOS valve system has an individual throttle butterfly for each cylinder.
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The M3 can be had in Coupe, Sedan, or Convertible body styles.
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The M3 badge is nicely incorporated with a side marker light.
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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.
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The carbon fiber roof shaves 40 pounds from the M3's weight and lowers the center of gravity.
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The trunk is fairly sizable, illustrating the practical side to this car.
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Beyond the M styling cues, the cabin is standard BMW sport luxury. A soft material covers the dashboard, and all the switchgear feels solid.
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The rear seats offer a reasonable amount of leg room for a coupe.
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The car handles very well, whether at speed or driving in traffic. The steering wheel is nice and thick.
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The M button on the steering wheel works to activate a group of preset performance technologies.
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You can customize what the M button does in the M Drive settings, changing the suspension, steering, and throttle response.
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BMW takes a minimalist stance with the gauges, embedding the fuel gauge in the speedometer and oil temperature in the tachometer.
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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.
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The root iDrive menu includes areas for navigation, the stereo, cell phone integration, and climate control.
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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.
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The navigation maps also have a 3D mode.
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Route guidance uses easily readable graphics to display upcoming turns in the Assistance screen. Traffic flow and icons are shown on the main map.
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You can also look at a list of traffic incidents, and get detailed information by clicking any of them.
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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.
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With the iPod interface, you can choose music by artist, genre, playlist, album, or track.
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HD radio provides better audio quality from any stations broadcasting in HD.
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The six disc changer plays MP3 CDs, but doesn't show ID3 information.
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The audio system sounds good, and can be fine-tuned with this graphic equalizer.
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The cell phone integration downloads contact lists from cell phones when you pair them.

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