I have just purchased a 2005 M3, and I've got to tell you that this vehicle is not meant for a regular kind of person. This vehicle is indeed a beast on the road, meant for a person who enjoys risk, emotion and high speed driving. But if you are looking for a comfortable, regular kind of vehicle, perhaps a regular 320 will make you very happy.
Personally I just cannot believe how well designed the M3 is, and for the first time after flying airplanes for more than 20 years, my hands started to sweat and the adrenaline began to kick thru my body.
Once again... try driving the 2008 M3; it's a real street F1 car.
I have owned an M3 for the last 3 years and still get excited every time I drive it
If you want a comfortable relaxing drive buy something else.
If you want something which ignites your heart every time you turn on the key, buy an M3.
Nothing comes close for the money
Get an SMG gear box which gives you the thrill of a manual with the convenience of an auto in rushour traffic.
I have thought about selling it a few times in order to free up some cash, but everytime I have removed it from sale as I can't bear to give it up!
My 2002 M3 has been nothing but grief. It is fast and fun, but at 50,000k it has had 3 engines. Now the rear end is going. $$$...$$$
Buy a porsche instead.
Bought my M3 new in '05 and still have it today (11/09). The only issue was the SMG pump which died at 25K miles. Although repaired under warranty, I believe they mentioned the cost would have been $2500-3000.
I only have 32K miles on the car at this point - overall it has been very reliable. I know there were some serious flaws (primarily engine) in the early E46 M3s - but it appears they worked out most of the bugs in the later ones.
I hear the same holds true with the E92s as well.