The M3 is a legend – a highly coveted example of a road-going race car shorn of unnecessary weight and focused entirely on driving pleasure.
However, the steady march of legislation and customer demands for more kit has seen this philosophy diluted.
Which is why we now have an M3 powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine, when a four-cylinder 2.0-litre used to be sufficient.
Naturally, the new M3 is super-fast – 420bhp translates into a top speed limited to 155mph and 0-62mph acceleration in under five seconds.
And it certainly looks the part with 19-inch alloy wheels, a bodykit and a carbonfibre roof section which helps lower the centre of gravity.
This gives the M3 a purposeful air, although it’s not in your face.
EfficientDynamics is fitted with brake energy regeneration and gear change indicator while lightweight materials contribute to an M3 which is more efficient than its predecessor.
But, with CO2 emissions of 295g/km and average fuel economy of 22.8mpg it’s not going to win too many green fans.
Because of limited numbers, the new M3 will remain a rare sight on our road – and a pricetag of just over £50,000 will help with that exclusivity, too.
But for diehard fans only an M3 will do so BMW will doubtless be able to sell more than it can offer.
But if I were a company director and fancied a sporty coupé, I might be looking elsewhere in the BMW catalogue. 335d M Sport Coupé anyone?
Behind the wheel
Such is the level of competency in the chassis and array of safety control systems that the M3 is a very easy car to get in and drive very hard.
And you need to drive it hard to make it come alive.
In regular driving the M3 feels comfortable and refined – good attributes but not what you would expect of an M car.
But when you decide to be more aggressive with the throttle and cornering the M3 transforms into a high-speed missile, coping with everything you can throw at it. You can almost sense the car asking “is that all you’ve got?”
The level of competency in the M3 is sky high – more than any normal driver will hope to match.
The new M3 looks and sounds great and, when you’re on top of your game, absolutely flies down the road.
However, at £50,000 you really need to be an M division aficionado to discount some of the amazingly able, and cheaper, 3 Series Coupés lower down the range.
Max power (bhp/rpm): 420/8,300
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 295/3,900
Max speed (mph): 155
0-62mph (secs): 4.8
Fuel consumption (mpg): 22.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 295
Price (OTR): £50,625
On sale: Now