M3 12 month review
Purchase Price: £52,000 + £10,500 of options
Fuel cost: £5,206 (runs on Shell V-Max only)
Cost of car for 12 months: (depreciation, tax, service and insurance) £10,000
Total running costs for 12 months: £15,000 approx.
Had the car 12 months now so thought I’d pen a few words what it is like to live with. And most importantly can you use a 420bhp V8 as a daily drive.
Spent a long time thinking what to get. Had a few fast cars previously including a Renault Clio 182 which I loved for its B road handling. A Nissan 350Z Roadster which was amazing in an unrefined muscle GT car cross.
Quite fancied another convertible but the M3 drop top it’s peer the Audi RS don’t look great and the Mercedes offerings are a little bit old man for my taste.
Was tempted by a second hand Aston Martin Vantage roadster – they look great, sound sublime, but if anything goes wrong its going to cost you a fortune. Looked at a Lotus Exige for some stripped out fun – but needed something I could use everyday. So that narrowed the list down to BMW M3, Mercedes E92 AMG, Audi RS4 or a Nissan 370Z as a curve ball.
To cut a long story short went for the M3 as had subtle styling, a brilliant interior and one of the best V8’s on the market.
So a trip down to the local BMW dealer and 4 hours later I had spec’d out my future stead. Treated myself to the Harmon Kardon speaker upgrade (9 speakers + 2 subs under the seats!) and also the Competition Pack. This dropped the ride by 10mm, added electrically controlled dampers and more importantly you got the 19” CSL wheels as a shout back to one of the best handling coupes ever made. Space grey exterior and red leather with carbon trim inside. Also got the wheels sprayed an anthracite color to make the car unique, plus they complement the paintwork and carbon roof. If Carlsberg made cars …!
Day-to-Day Driving & Commuting:
My car came ordered with the DCT gearbox and paddle shift. I was a little dubious of this until I test drove a car with it fitted. It allows the car to take on lots of different demeanors depending on how you want to drive it. You can leave it in auto and let the car do all the work, with gear changes so smooth you cant even tell it’s an auto. Or you can use the paddles behind the steering wheel and it will change gear in an instant, or about 90milliseconds for the geeks.
Driving it around town the engine is very quiet, the steering isn’t particular heavy and the ride is confortable thanks to the adjustable dampers. It’s a bit wider than a normal family hatch but the visual parking sensors and gentle throttle response make it easy to park or drive slow.
It has a good sat nav with lots of pretty 3D views. The car syncs perfectly with my iPhone and Spotify. The iDrive control allows you to use all the functions with little effort or distraction from driving. The inbuilt handsfree system works well at cancelling out background noise out during calls. And to top things off it has a DVD player so you can watch films on the 10” screen.
On the motorway it will sit at 70mph in near silence doing 30mpg, which is pretty good for a car with 4litre V8 engine.
Only shortcoming is that in stop start traffic you can see the fuel gauge go down quicker than a South Korean ferry.
Now this is where it starts to get interesting. The throttle response, gear change speed, traction control and suspension are all adjustable whilst driving. Have them turned down and it’s as easy to drive as my mum’s corsa. Turn them up to 10 or in this case 11, and the M3 becomes a savage beast.
420bhp is a lot of power – but it is how it delivers the power that is impressive. The acceleration in the first 4 gears will snap your head back. It will redline in first gear in about a second, it’s in second for a couple more seconds and by the time you have changed to third you are doing 70mph+. The V8 revs right upto 8000rpm; which is pretty impressive and the sound is intoxicating. You get a series of LED lights on top of rev counter that light up yellow when you pass 5500rpm, then red the closer you get to the limit. In normal driving its impossible to get these to light due to the speeds you will have to be doing.
The car sits perfect level in the corners, no body roll at all. You can feel the road surface like you had your hand out of the door, fingers running on the asphalt. But it’s not a harsh ride, even with the suspension in Race mode.
The boot is pretty big and will fit a couple of suitcases or my bike with the seats dropped.
Well if you are buying a car like this you know it is going to cost more to run than a Ford Mondeo. A 23mpg average means if I commute to work in it then it’s a £200/week fuel bill. Thankfully I have a Shell points card so my fuel has paid for a flight to JFK courtesy of the air miles.
The interim service at 1200 miles is £450 – which is pretty steep for a car you have only had 2 months! Tax is £500 a year, not sure why as the engine has more technology in it that pretty much every other car on the road. Tyres will set you back about £1200 a set and they will last about 18months depending how aggressive you are with your right foot.
An advantage of buying a car like this new is that you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong as its covered by the warranty. So my costs are relatively fixed.
I thought the car would be good, but 12 months later I still get a smile on my face when I drive it. Even my 140mile commute to my client and back is more enjoyable when I am in the M3. The fact the engine can go from calm to crazy in a press of the ‘M’ button is fantastic. The build quality is excellent – the inside still looks like it did when I drove it out of the showroom. Not had one mechanical problem at all, compare this to recent Porsche buyers!
You can use this car everyday if you can put up with the fuel cost.
It’s a stupid amount of money to spend on a car; but for any petrol-head, owning an ‘M’ car is a right of passage, and one that I am very happy I have now done.
…what car next. Well I plan on keeping this for another 12 months so I get chance to take to on the Nurburgring circuit. After that I’m not sure – really like the new Jaguar F type, or maybe its time to settle down and get a Range Rover!
Or ideally the new M5 will be out!