- Snug seating
- Superglue-like traction
- Smooth-shifting transmission
- Impressive V-8 power
- Ultra-hip interior
- Needs to go on a diet
- Too much technology
It’s not cheap and it is kind of heavy, but the 2009 BMW M3 offers the kind of performance that brought Porsche 911s and Chevy Corvettes fame on the racetrack and on the streets.
For $55,000, the 2009 BMW M3 redefines the performance envelope for BMW's 3-Series range—but at a significant weight and price penalty. However, you might be going too fast to notice.
When the M3 arrived stateside 20 years ago, the car was powered by lowly four-cylinder engine. The 2009 version, with a 4.0-liter V-8 engine producing 414 hp, is a performance monster compared to its predecessor.
The M3 is often chastised for having too many electronic aids that can interfere with the driving experience—adjustable shocks, steering, and stability control among them—but fortunately they can all be turned off for maximum fun by enthusiasts attracted to the M3’s incredible handling and traction. The 2009 BMW M3 grips corners firmly, while the body stays tightly in line like a racecar.
For 2009, the M Double Clutch Transmission is now offered throughout the M3 line as a $2,900 option. This seven-speed gearbox with Drivelogic is designed for high-rpm engines and allows the driver to shift gears without interrupting the flow of power. It’s a dream for weekend racers, yet it won’t punish you with jarring shifts on the daily commute.
From the outside, the M3 looks the part, with a very aggressively styled exterior. The interior of the 2009 BMW M3 closely mirrors that of the standard 3-Series yet has wonderful, snug sport seats and sportier interior trims. Interior comfort is fine, though most adults will find the backseat cramped. Also, the 3-Series rides quite well, but it has more road noise than is typical.
The M3 offers a lot of high-tech features to go along with its top performance—and some of these are driving aids more than gadgets. BMW is making the steering wheel-mounted M Drive button a part of the optional Technology Package for 2009. M Drive allows M3 owners to store and access dynamic control settings such as steering, damping, and stability—effectively allowing you to fine-tune the demeanor of the M3 to suit the driving conditions to your liking. The 2009 Technology Package also includes Electronic Damping Control, the BMW Navigation System with Real Time Traffic Data, and the Comfort Access system that allows keyless operation of the vehicle.