BMW's M3 is now much more high-speed express than B-road hooligan. The high-revving 414bhp V8 can still make your spine tingle, though, and few cars can produce on-demand oversteer like the M3.

However, it is not a faultless car. Chief among the faults are that the driver sits too high and it will spend too much time at fuel stations. Its abilities on damp British roads are also reduced by being just two-wheel drive, and even though some people will crave the ability to feel the rear axle slipping about, the realities of motoring in this country cannot be ignored.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Its abilities on damn British roads are hindered by being rear-wheel drive

But the M3 is not a blunt instrument; there are layers of sophistication, and as something in which to conduct your daily grind it will prove a thrilling companion. The others, in particular Audi, have all but caught the once uncatchable M3, but for those who love rear-driven machinery, this is still the best practical performance car on sale.

That you can vary that repertoire through the coupe, saloon and convertible variants only adds to the M3’s undoubted appeal. What you have to give up for the extra practicality of the saloon or show-off appeal of the convertible is relatively small compared with some other rivals.

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