Since this car’s launch, BMW’s engineers have been eager to tell anyone who’ll listen how proud they are of the rear axle stability and how much better the dampers are than on any previous-generation M3. The Michelin Pilot Sport tyres are unique to the car, too.

The end result is that on Comfort dampers the M3’s ride is actually better than the 335i M Sport coupé’s, and that’s either a remarkable achievement or a sign that it’s getting too soft in its old age. Thankfully, we’d suggest the former is more accurate – although more extreme enthusiasts will be overheard bemoaning the change.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The M3 changes direction and grips as well as can be expected of something that weighs so much

The steering on current model year cars is a joy – although used buyers should note that it has been effectively tweaked over the years to reach today’s high standards. In particular, we’d recommend the Competition Pack, which means the car rides lower, sits on different wheels and has tweaked ESC settings and – crucially – different damper settings in Sport mode.

It grips as well as can be expected of something that weighs so much, and yet its bespoke Michelin tyres also contribute greatly to the ride comfort. As a combination of cruiser and sports coupé, it’s hard to see how you’d improve it.

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And don’t think that by opting for the four-door saloon you are going to be forced to give much away. The extra practicality that this car offers leads you to expect some kind of compromise in its handling; if it’s bigger inside, you guess it must be bigger outside, heavier, somehow less sharp. But it just isn’t – and a glance at BMW’s measurements reveals why.

The M3 saloon has an identical wheelbase, and the same front and rear track widths, as the coupé. It’s actually marginally shorter than the two-door (by 35mm), as well as being marginally wider and taller. But with the wheels being in exactly the same places, and because it carries only 25kg of extra weight than the coupé, it gives up next to nothing by way of agility.

The M3 convertible also makes a great case for itself. Undeniably, it isn’t as dynamically accomplished as the coupe or saloon, but unless you want to go on track or are searching for the final few per cent of performance, it has enough real-world ability to impress, as well as the undeniable charm of letting you hear the V8 when it’s on full song.

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