After reading and researching the E46 M3 for a very long time, I finally found one that was in excellent condition, in the right color (Imola Red) and the right price. I flew out to buy it, and while driving the 600 miles home, I discovered that all the hype surrounding this legendary automobile was spot on. It is exactly what they say it is - an incredible well-balanced racing machine that is perfectly suited to highways, mountain roads and the race track all the same.
The engine is the perfect place to start, since it set the benchmark for so many years. Inline sixes are infamous for revving smoothly to high speeds, and this is no exception. Power delivery really comes on at around 3k-4k rpm and pulls consistently and powerfully all the way to its 333hp rating at a screaming 8,200rpm. I was disappointed to find out the car had adjustable lifters that required adjustment every 50k miles or so, but I supposed this is a price to pay for this type of performance.
The handling is what makes this car what it is, though. if I wanted brutal acceleration, I would have gotten my third American Muscle car. Instead, I'm enjoying the confidence that the M3's suspension and electronics instil. OK, I'll admit it - they make me look a LOT better than I am, the DSC kicking in at opportune moments to rescue me from a certain spin. I've never driven a car that simply seems to go where you tell it to.
The interior is wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort and noise level, particularly considering I went with the convertible. The instrumentation seems a bit dated, considering the artful dashboards that Acura seems to be crafting these days. But I don't find myself staring at the gauges much! My eyes are riveted to the road as the car sucks up the pavement, mile after mile.
The convertible top works nicely. No complaints there. Only minor squeaks and rattles, which I suppose should be expected on a 6 year old car.