A drawback, though, is that the M-Drive button is on the steering wheel, among some audio controls, so technically it's possible to dial up your track settings when you just meant to change CDs.
Safety, Reliability & Mileage
The 2011 M3 has not been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the 2010 BMW 3 Series has been, and its results should carry over when 2011 ratings are released. The 2010 received the highest rating, Good, for frontal-offset and side-impact tests, but it has not been tested for roof strength. BMW 3 Series with active head restraints also received a Good rating in the Institute's rear crash protection and head-restraint tests.
The BMW M3 is predicted to have average reliability. It's estimated to get 14/20 mpg city/highway, and thus incurs a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax.
M3 in the Market
Our test car stickered at $69,925 including the gas-guzzler tax and $2,900 for the double-clutch automatic, so it's not cheap. And considering what it can do, you shouldn't expect it to be.
There are precious few cars that can be tamed by electronic systems to be docile city cruisers and then, when unleashed, attack the track with absolute ferocity. A co-worker described it as a racetrack beast, and I can't argue — though I'd add that it's a comfortable car, too, and it has exceptional daily-drive capability.
For my money, that's what puts the M3 at the top of the market of driver-focused cars: It can cover the driving spectrum.
Starting MSRP $55,400 – $67,050
EPA Fuel Economy:
City: 13 – 14
414-hp, 4.0-liter V-8 (premium)
6-speed manual w/OD
7-speed auto-shift manual w/OD and auto-manual
New or Notable
• 414-hp V-8
• Six-speed manual transmission
• Seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission
• Coupe, sedan or convertible
• Distinctive "M" appearance
What We Like
• V-8's 8,400 rpm redline