What constitutes a great automobile? The question has plagued automotive engineers for the past century, and many will have different opinions. Is it the comfort? The looks? The handling? Or what about the raw power, and let's not forget about price. Once all the chips are stacked and critics across the globe intervene, the BMW 3 series stands out as one of the best all-around cars straight from the factory. Straight from the factory is fine (if you like your toast without jelly), but why be like everyone else? The overall modifications done on this 2002 BMW M3 is relatively pale in comparison to the sticker-clad-multi-sponsored magazine queens out there, but sometimes it's nice to step into something a little more discreet, a little more refined. but with some wide-open goodness at the blip of the throttle.
BMW engines are well known for their efficiency and power thanks to their racing history and dedication to win. 333hp and 262lb-ft of torque pump through the cylinders and gears of a factory M3. A GruppeM carbon fiber/Kevlar intake coupled with a K&N filter heighten the experience of the DOHC 24-valve inline 6-cylinder VANOS valve timing engine. Music to anyone's ears. The M3 is one of the last production inline-6 cars in existence, so cherish the unique sound while you can.
To a trained eye the front end, rear bumper, side gills, and quad exhaust tip you off that this is the performance model 3 series. What separates the BMWs from "ordinary" cars is the build quality and tight tolerances between the door seals and body pieces. The car looks as if it's been chiseled by the late Michelangelo, yet with a finish that outshines any high school gym floor. A set of Racing Dynamic RS2 19" wheels contribute to the key exterior feature of this everyday roadcar. Wrapped around the wheels are Bridgestone S-03 Potenzas, the mark of a true mountain driving enthusiast.
Speaking of mountain roads, this M3 has driven the best curvy road in America - hell the entire Western Hemisphere. It's been dubbed "The Dragon", and this 11 mile stretch of road hosts 318 hair raising cliff-taunting turns, and they can get pretty scary when bouncing off redline and throwing around a 3,000lb exotic piece of metal. But have no fear, H&R coilovers with upgraded rear spring perches slay the dragon and instill confidence in the otherwise timid pilot. A BenFer Performance Quarto carbon fiber front strut bar stiffens the chassis, and adds a nice visual cue when looking under the hood.
Cradled in the cockpit it feels as if you've stepped into a day spa. Except instead of scantily clad masseuses and faux nature sounds, there are leather seats and a Harman Kardon stereo. The beefed up suspension provides superb handling with a side-effect of harshness, but the tranquility of the interior drowns the bumps into what seems like little pebbles.
It's easy to see why the BMW M3 is classified as one of the best all-around performers in the wide world of automobiles. The styling, comfort, price, and overall performance aren't ground-breaking when classified individually, but when paired together the relationship yields automotive bliss.