What is it?
Tragically this totally formidable performance icon has attracted so many gits over the years it has become borderline naff. But it's so scintillating you might risk it...
Superlative. The new car is slightly softer than the old straight-six variant, but the better for it. It is easier to get to grips with and therefore faster for most people. Know what you're doing and it doesn't disappoint - it's capable of steering its way around much, much more exotic machinery. You can also play like an absolute hooligan...
Both saloon and coupe are very comfortable long distance cars - just like any other BMW 3-Series. You can play with the damper control to soften off the ride if you're just tooling around, so it will never loosen teeth. It is louder and more aggressive in terms of the engine and damping set-up, but not enough to scare you.
Startling is a good way to describe the M3. That's a lightweight V8 under the bonnet that weighs less than the previous straight six and it produces 414bhp and 295lb ft of torque. That's enough to launch the coupe to 62mph in just 4.8 seconds and on to a limited 155mph. The saloon is slightly slower but you won't be able to tell.
On the inside
Go for the four-door if you have kids/carry passengers a lot - it may not have the coupe's carbon roof, but it realistically provides everything the coupe does with a touch more street-sleeper. The coupe has rear seats, but they're small and that carbon roof stands out a lot if you choose a pale colour.
Not cheap. The BMW M3, with... er... ‘spirited' driving will dispense single-figure mpg. Group 20 insurance and 309g/km aren't great either, but the used values are hard as diamond and BMW's ‘efficient dynamics' programme helps the M3 recoup some of its losses through brake-regeneration and an alternator that disconnects when not needed.