Bonkers, but wonderful
Terminal sounding rattle from engine compartment. Turned out to be nothing more than a loose heat shield.
No other faults.
Totally superb hooligan coupe that looks weird, but goes like stink and handles beautifully.
Best production car engine ever (100 bhp / litre with normal aspiration and no on/off VTEC nonsense). It does have VANOS variable valve timing, but it's not all or nothing like many of the Japanese efforts. Screams past 8,000 RPM with a metallic snarl that just makes you grin.
What I love most about it though is it depends on the driver to stay out of trouble rather than diluting the experience with a bunch of idiot-aid electronics. You just get a brilliantly balanced chassis, as much power as you can reasonably use on the road, and steering and brakes that brim with feel and progression. If you overstep the mark, it will bite you hard, and if you crash it, it's your own stupid fault. I despair at some of the other reviews / comments on here that slate this car for its propensity to spin when provoked. BMW should be commended for their purist approach - if you don't like it, take a driving course or as one M Roadster reviewer said, buy a 318i.
It's not cheap to insure, and even with gentle use it rarely betters 25 mpg average. Not economical then, but for a car capable of 0-60 in well under 5 seconds, it's not too bad. Apart from an odd rattle when the car was just a couple of months old, it has proven totally reliable, and still feels as tight and fresh as the day I picked it up.
If you like your cars very, very powerful, RWD, beautifully engineered and dependent on the driver rather than electronics or conservative chassis geometry to stay on the black stuff, this is the car for you.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th August, 2003