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Reader test: BMW M3

2010-11-30 09:18

NO ORDINARY CAR: Reader Kashif compares this car to the Millenium Falcon.

Kashif Zaidi, Swaziland

“M3 drivers are cocks and have no friends.”

To a large extent, I concur. The most prominent demographic consists of eighteen to thirty-something goons whose love for oversized Prada shades, buckets of hair gel, bling and Bluetooth is mandatory… Not forgetting the compulsive demeanor of tailgating you on the highway or revving the engine unnecessarily at (insert public gathering here) in a desperate bid to attract attention.  

However, not all M3 drivers are the same. I was fortunate enough to be offered the keys to a Jerez Black E92 M3 coupe by a dear friend of mine. Fortunately for me, it was kitted out with all the bells and whistles that made me feel like I was being tickled by angels in my naughty areas, such as the carbon fibre roof, EDC (Electronic Damper Control), M dynamic seats, voice control, comfort access, 19-inch tekkies and, most importantly, a proper six-speed manual transmission without all the Doppelkupplung-wizardry.

Having driven several variants in the past, making my way around the interior was clockwork, but there were a few subtle surprises.  As soon as I got cozy in the bucket seat, a robotic arm extended forward, prompting me to secure my seatbelt. The M Dynamic seats allowed me to adjust lumbar support for my lower back as well as the side bolsters, such that the seat completely wrapped around my back and rib cage, assuring me that I would remain in place, irrespective of how much lateral Gs my body would be subjected to.


The centre dash, while clean and simple, didn’t quite stimulate me like its predecessors, which had more driver-facing layouts. Alas, I proceeded to adjust the mirrors, popped the shifter into neutral and pushed the “Start/Stop” button. The glorious V8 purred to life. This was no ordinary X-wing from plant Rosslyn, this was indeed the millennium falcon.

I decided it would be best to make my way down to the recently-completed Ngwenya highway for a spirited drive as it has all the right ingredients; freshly laid asphalt, gloriously illuminated,  hardly any traffic and scrumptious bends on rises and dips through mountains and valleys.

When I joined the highway, everything was set to the default “Comfort” Mode while I tried to get a feeler. I was cruising along at about 50km/h in third gear when I nudged on the accelerator a little and the abundant torque simply revealed itself. The car felt neat on the bends and surprisingly comfortable compared to its predecessor.  The manual transmission felt great paired to a marshmallow-like clutch, even though I feel BMW could offer a short shifter as standard equipment on this bona fide sports car. After spending time behind the wheel, I got the vibe that this M3 is definitely a more comfortable car to live with. In my perfect world, this would be the ideal daily driver.

SPIRITED: Kashif's kitted ride of choice has all the makings of a pukka sports car, but is comfortable enough to use on a daily basis.

“Enough of the timid driving”, I could hear my hormones pleading. I fidgeted with the M Drive menu, which enables one to adjust the vehicle’s sporty character, via the on-board computer. When you want her to dance to some sensual tango, she’s ready at the touch of the M button on the steering wheel.  Some of the options include the ferocity of the EDC, throttle mapping, traction control and servotronic. I maxed out everything and left traction control on, since this had saved my life way too many times in the past. Knowing the power of the behemoth that lay beneath the hood, it was the wise thing to do.


With the magic M button configured, I took a quick peep around me, not a car in sight. I pressed the M button on the steering wheel and a subtle green M logo lit up on the instrument cluster, indicating that this baby was ready to dance. Time to give it some stick, I eased off the clutch and stomped on the accelerator. 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000r/min and climbing…

My mind rekindled memories of my days as a toddler, churning out melodies on a xylophone and the delight it brought when I stumbled upon a symphony in rhythm. This feeling was similar, only the aural pleasure of the high-pitched eight cylinders had the hairs on my forearms standing erect.

The revs were climbing rapidly as the M3 bolted, yet the engine still yearned for me to go on and on. And so I did. 6000, 7000, redline at 8000r/min, mash the clutch, slot it into second, dump the clutch, a chirp of wheel spin and off we went again.

The torque had me plastered to the seat and the rate at which the car gathered pace was mind boggling. Out of second gear, I was already doing 120km/h. As I approached a mild bend, the car evoked so much confidence as it stuck like glue and I knew exactly where my limits were, and how much further I could go. The feedback was amazing. This was the supernatural feeling that every aficionado craves; an experience where the driver, the car and the road no longer feel like three separate subjects. It’s as if the trinity bond in unison and embed into your soul.


I couldn’t get enough of the manual transmission paired to this gem of an engine. Rev matched down shifts, heel-and-toe out of bends with the V8’s thunder resonating. The feeling was so orgasmic I could have mistaken it for a sin. Eyes on the road yet keeping track of the speedo through my peripheral view, hands juggling between the wheel and shifter with feet simultaneously dancing between the clutch, brake and the throttle did feel like quite a workout, but the drive was so rewarding, I would never have had it any other way. Yes, the (optional) dual clutch transmission may be a marvel of engineering and technology, but where’s the fun in paddle pushing?

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