BMW M3: From E30 to E92The BMW M3 has been one of the world's most desirable cars for over 25 years. We take a look at its origin and its most extreme version to date.
As automotive staples go, the BMW M3 is a pretty good one. We've got 2 fine examples of the breed right here. Its origin and, well, it's most extreme version to date. First up though, the E30. The E30 M3 looks to the untrained eye much like a bogo E30, but then you notice its bigger arches there to fit a wider track and bigger wheels. It's got 12 different body panels over the standard car mostly believe it or not for aerodynamics. Though it doesn't look like an aerodynamic dream here, does it? The E30 M3 was launched in 1986 and it's the first ever M3. That makes it, well, 26 years old. Before the paradigm set by 1972's 3-liter CSL, take a normal car, add a little bit more go and then enter it into Europe's various touring car championships. And as it happens, the E30 is one of the most successful touring cars ever which is really quite something. There are lots of versions of the E30 M3. You've got the coupe which we have here, the convertible then the Evolution 1, 2, and 3. Power came from either 2.3 or a 2.5-liter 4-cylider engine. Power ranged from 192 brake horsepower to 241. And the one we have here is a 215 brake horsepower car, so it allegedly do naught to 62 in 6.7 seconds and 143 miles an hour, which is, well, really quite impressive. The E30 is celebrated for being light, fancy, entertaining, and not too overwhelming. So the E30 BMW, the origin of the species as it well what's it like, amazing. The steering is so direct basically because it's from a racecar. It really is wonderful. You get so much feedback from the wheel. One of my favorite bits about this car is its dogleg gearbox. Basically the gear layout is a little bit different. It's designed for races so it reverses where 1st should be in first, where 2nd should be in, you know, vice versa all the way down. Basically what it means is first you use the start and that's about it, reverses there in the emergency. The 2nd and 3rd are right on top of one another, so what you can do is go okay, slow down for the corner into 2nd out of there into 3rd, power out, jobs are good. You've also got these buttons down there on the dash and that isn't quite go things so you got your range, your fuel consumption. There's even a timer on there so you can do the perfect naught to 60. I do like that. The E30 is a genuinely brilliant car even now I'm judging it by today's standard. It just goes to show how good a car this was in the late 80's. Anyway, let's have a go in the GTS. The M3 GTS is the ultimate road-going M3 to date. Its interior is stripped. It weighs 75 kilos less than a normal M3 weighing in at just over 1500 kilos. It has a fire extinguisher, a roll cage, less soundproofing than a normal M3, 19-inch alloys, a glorious titanium exhaust, and a wing the size of a coffee table. Its tires are as close to road legal as you can get before a policeman stops you and asks just what the hell you think you're doing, son. Only 150 of these were ever made and each one has GTS and their number etched into the carbon fiber dashboard. That's really cool. So everything about this car is essentially an M3 turned up to 11. There's more power, more noise. The brakes are more. The suspension is harder. In fairness to the BMW double-clutch gearbox is awesome. It just goes change, change, change, change, change. The only side I've ever experienced something quite as quick is in a Ferrari 458. Compared to a regular M3, that E30, well, the E30 is usable. It's a racecar for the road or it was in its time, but it's usable. It's comfortable and this just shows how far race tech has come along. And that's not great for the road because it is so uncomfortable. It is unforgiving. The speed is unrelenting. It just happens to you. Put your foot down. Boom. You're gone. The steering though is very lovely. The brakes are very responsive, but again a standard M3 you can fit people in the back. There's no need for a fire extinguisher. It's a lot cheaper. This is a plaything for people with lots of money who like track driving. So there you have it, 26 years of M3 evolution which is best, well, I say to each their own but personally I'm gonna take the old girl home because you know what they say about age and experience.