Alyssa – 2009 BMW M3 E93 Convertible
The BMW M3
The legendary BMW M3 was forged from the fires of Mount Motorsport and built to tackle the world of touring cars (and thus, needing at least 5,000 production models built in the space of twelve consecutive months). It came about when former BMW CEO Eberhard Kuenheim said at the time, as an aside: “We need a sporty engine for the 3 Series”. And thus, the seeds of the ‘M3’ were sown. The rest is history. For car guys, an M3 needs no introduction.
Words like ‘hero’ and ‘icon’ are thrown about at will where fast cars are concerned. But no one can argue about the BMW M3’s claim to either. It’s also matured in a fascinating manner over its 31-year life, growing from a pugnacious little four-cylinder coupe into a turbocharged fire-breathing saloon. It’s spawned many iterations along the way, folding hard-top convertibles and two-seat trackday specialists among them. The car you see here, though, is the only one to use eight cylinders. Sold between 2007 and 2013, the E90-series of M3 used a highly strung V8 engine and came with three different body styles and your choice of two gearboxes.
Alyssa – Our 2009 BMW M3 E93 Convertible
Okay, so the previous, E46-generation BMW M3 had a superb inline-6 drivetrain. But there’s something so special, so senior about the 420bhp 4.0-litre V8 in an E90. It’s irresistible even now.
Thanks to a double-strut setup up front, with a five-link rear axle, all-round vented discs, a variable M differential, many driver aids and this glorious naturally aspirated high-reving 4 liter V8, the driving is exactly as good as you imagine it is.
Pull onto an interesting stretch of road, and even without pressing any buttons to prod its mechanicals into ‘attack’ mode, it’s a sharp and wonderfully precise thing. The hydraulic steering is more natural in its responses than the electronic setup in the current, turbocharged M3, and it allows you to place a front axle that’s rich in grip just where you want it.
But it’s the engine that’s the absolute star of the show. It’s a fine example of just how exciting and intoxicating naturally aspirated engines are, particularly in light of its successor – and nigh on all other performance cars at this level – now moving to turbocharging. The manic, high-rev delivery of its engine is almost supercar-like. Proof of how thrilling the BMW M3 is comes via the DCT gearbox. Far from feeling a cop-out, it’s perhaps preferable to the manual. Sorry, purists. Such is the aggression of its upshifts when you’ve got it switched to the fiercest of its five settings, and so sonorous the blare of revs on a downshift, it adds to the excitement of the engine rather than detracting from it.
Eventually, you’ll reach the end of your favourite road. And if you can resist turning back on yourself, you prod the M3 back into its sensible mode and mooch home in what’s essentially a nicely specced 3 Series.
The dashboard has dated a touch, but BMW has been good at keeping the layout of its interiors and their operational quirks consistent. So it’s the work of a moment to get comfortable, switch the radio on, and cruise along in a quiet, refined saloon. One that just so happens to have a slightly deranged sports car just about restrained beneath its bodywork…
Sold between 2007 and 2013, the E90-series of M3 was the only one to use a highly strung V8 engine and has already become a future classic. We can’t get enough of the M3’s stupendously awesome 4.0-liter V-8; you could strap it to a three-legged water buffalo and we’d be more than happy to take it for a spin.