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Reader test: BMW Z3 M Coupe

2009-11-20 07:53

Jacques Hattingh, Randburg

With its unconventional looks, the BMW Z3 M Coupe is certainly not everybody’s cup of tea.

Starting of as a side project alongside the Z3 it turned out to be the black sheep of the BMW family, much more Marilyn Manson than Leonardo di Caprio. Even today it still divides opinions (as I’m sure the comments on the review will show). Even if it isn’t going to win any beauty contests there is something about the aggressive styling and quirkiness that conveys a sense of purpose.

I’ve come to love it in spite of its unconventional looks and if you’ve ever driven one you’d know that the M Coupe provides "Sheer Driving Pleasure". The addition of a tin top resulted in much less body flex when compared with its soft top counterpart, which means that it sports pretty impressive handling characteristics.

Beastly grunt

It can no longer lay claim to being BMW’s fastest production vehicle, but it once was and it is still pretty fast by today’s standards. It is surprising driver friendly in traffic and easy to manoeuvre. It has a decent boot, Harman Kardon sound and other creature comforts found in the 3 Series of the time.

Given some open road, this beast still provides a great driving experience, despite its age, and has loads of head turning ability (not always for the right reasons, but who cares?).

Fat rubber means loads of grip and the M3 engine provides more than enough grunt. There are no fancy electronic get-out-of-jail-free cards with this one. If your talent, or the grip from the rear tyres, runs out there will be consequences - mainly of the expensive kind.

There is a reason why this never made it to the Total Economy Run… It is thirsty, very thirsty.

Expenses and tyre expenses

Service costs are also fairly high and if you service at an agent you’ll have to contend with what BMW considers customer service.

Running a narrow and wide tyre combination means that replacing tyres is an expensive exercise. Some spirited driving will see you run through two sets of rears before having to replace the fronts. The lack of traction- and stability control makes it pretty hairy to drive in wet conditions, commanding a lot of concentration and sparing use of the accelerator.
I’ve always felt that the Z3M can provide you with Porsche-like performance at 3 Series money. It really provides bang for your buck. Finding one in a decent condition proves to be increasingly difficult, but not impossible. I can imagine that this will become a future collectable (it might already be one).

If you have the means, I highly recommend getting one…

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