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As the heaviest, most expensive, and most powerful--and only V-8-powered--version of the BMW M3, the latest generation is very different from its predecessors, but still manages to capture BMW's best performance traits.
Technologically advanced, with extensive electronic control systems for traction and dynamics, yet still focused and track-bred, the 2012 BMW M3 straddles the grand touring and sports car genres. Despite the high-tech equipment, the 2012 M3 carries forward the E92 and E93 Coupe and Convertible, even though the next-generation F30 3-Series is available in non-M form. No M3 sedan is offered this year.
The M3 Coupe and Convertible are among the best-looking mainstream sports cars available. Flared fenders, sleek profiles, bulging hoods, and all of the latest BMW styling cues combine to make a modern, elegant sports car that's clearly more than your average 3-Series.
Under the power-bulged hood sits a 414-horsepower 4.0-liter V-8. Paired with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the rear wheels, it's a recipe for excellent acceleration, reaching 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds (Coupe) or just under six seconds (Convertible). Handling is excellent--the best in the segment, though the latest Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe has shortened the distance between them.
Quality, fit, and finish are all up to BMW standards, which is to say, very nice. Priced at $60,100 to $68,750 for coupe and Convertible, respectively, however, you'd expect them to be well made. A range of options, upgrades, and appearance tweaks inside and out offer a degree of customizability to the M3.
Though it hasn't been crash-tested by the major agencies--as is common with expensive high-performance cars--the 3-Series the M3 is based on has done well in those tests. The M3's handling and braking can also enable the driver to avoid some accidents altogether.
As for features and technology, the 2012 BMW M3 is well-outfitted in base form, and can be turned into a very luxurious ride, indeed. Navigation, entertainment, driver-configurable performance controls, and upgraded interior finishes put the finishing touch on an impressive sports car.
- Stunning V-8 power
- Grippy handling
- Exceptional dual-clutch and manual transmissions
- Snug, cozy front seats
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- The sensation of added weight
- Much more expensive
- Technology interferes with handling