I don’t know about you but if I see another bloody ‘in-depth investigation’ of the ‘credit crunch’ on the TV I think I’m going to throw it out of the window.
The constant scaremongering has undoubtedly started to gnaw away at everyone’s confidence – and of course it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Combined with the frightening increase in petrol prices it’s even filtered into the DR office. So much so that Chris ‘two 911s’ Harris has proclaimed a diesel Mercedes estate to be the best car on the planet. And I didn’t think diesel fumes could send you loopy…
My vote would probably go to a 997 GT3RS or maybe an F50, and I do love Integrales or maybe a Caterham R500… or if we must be practical then an M5 estate would do me fine. But in the meantime I reckon our M3 saloon isn’t too far wide of the mark. I’ve really fallen in love with it since the trip to the Nürburgring 24hr.
It was simply immense on the track (the sat nav even had every twist and turn of the circuit mapped), huge fun on the smooth hairpins of the 257 that led to my hotel in Mayen and composed, quiet and comfortable on the way home. Loaded up with three adults, a baby, the mother of all pushchairs, video cameras, tripods, my lovely new Arai GP5 and as much Haribo as three people can reasonably consume on a 450-mile journey it transported us effortlessly across Germany, Belgium and France at a steady three-figure cruise.
It did use a bit of fuel of course, but when you love cars I guess you just have to make that choice. Instead of blowing money on silly things like furniture or food, people like us choose to spend it on petrol. I admit it’s got even more painful lately but only in my darkest moments do I rue the M3’s refusal to click much over 21mpg. Usually I’m still in the warm afterglow of another 8000rpm moment and although I’m getting poorer my life is definitely richer now it’s filled with 414bhp, an M-diff and a button on the steering wheel that turns off traction control…
The character of the saloon is definitely different to the coupe – a little more easy going at lower speeds, a tiny bit more understeer at the limit and maybe a smidge less body control at ten-tenths. But it’s still a very quick point-to-point tool, and it’s rare to get near the absolute limit on the road unless you’re on a familiar stretch of road early in the morning or late at night.
The traction control is a bit pessimistic though, taking bites of braking when there’s really no need. It’s better in ‘M’ Dynamic Mode but such is the balance of the M3 that turning the electronics off isn’t a leap into the unknown – more a conscious decision to give yourself more options. However in the wet it’s best left well alone.
I’d love to do a back-to-back track test of the saloon and coupe (and maybe the convertible, just to see what all that weight does to the dynamics and straight-line performance in absolute terms). If you’ve got a standard coupe on factory fit tyres/brakes etc and would like to see how if fares against the four-door then drop me an email.
Speaking of brakes, after the trauma of the Nordschleife Training Course the brakes seems to have made something of a recovery. They’re not perfect but much of the grumbling has disappeared and unless I’m being particularly lead-footed then they feel fine. I still reckon a car with this much potential needs better stoppers, though. Anyone upgraded their E90/2 M3 with ‘proper’ brakes yet?