BMW has responded to powerful new rivals with updates for the M5 and M6 - including a racy new 575hp Competition Package option
BMW M3 Coupé Edition review (2009 onwards)
We like - new colours, lowered suspension, great engine and soundtrack, rewarding handling
We don't like - not as hardcore as previous special-edition M3s
BMW has launched a limited-edition version of the M3 coupé. However, scrap any thoughts of evocative names like CSL, Evo or GT-R; this special model is simply called Coupé Edition.
Coupé Edition? That must have been an exciting brainstorm session in Munich. But then to be fair, BMW doesn't intend the Coupé Edition to be the new CSL. The changes between this car and the standard M3 are slight which probably explains the uninspiring name.
So what is different? Mechanically, zilch apart from the suspension which has been lowered by 10mm for 'enhanced dynamic capability'. It also looks meaner, the rear wheels stuffed into the swollen arches like a touring car's, with barely enough room for a hand to squeeze through.
Otherwise the changes are aesthetic. Three colours are available, exclusive Coupé Edition Dakar Yellow and Monte Carlo Blue, plus Alpine White as before. Not forgetting (optional) black 19-inch wheels and door mirrors and dark chrome kidney grilles, vents and exhausts.
BMW hasn't endowed the M3 Coupé Edition with any more power. That's no bad thing because this 4.0-litre V8 is astonishing; 420hp at 8,300rpm, 295 lb/ft of torque at 3,900rpm, 85% of which comes in at 6,500rpm, and 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds - or 4.6 if you're in a double-clutch car.
Unsurprisingly, acceleration is brutal and the performance easily accessible whatever gear you happen to be in so you don't need to thrash it. The accompanying noise is fantastic, a deep burble that grows into a high-pitched scream as the needle swings around the rev counter towards that peaky red line.
Ride and handling
Balanced, responsive, grippy but also a hooligan if you switch off the electronic aids. This means the M3 is one of the best handling performance cars on sale. It's set up like a race car, with massive brakes, lightweight suspension components and a carbon-fibre roof which keeps the kerbweight down and allows you to exploit the performance on offer.
On the road it feels light and agile despite its bulk, the suspension stiff but certainly not jarring. The internal electronics can be adjusted to suit your needs. You can pare-back the traction and stability control, adjust the steering and throttle control and sharpen the suspension if you're, say, on a track day or feeling brave on B-roads.
There are a few changes to the cabin. All cars get standard Novillo leather, with body-coloured highlights on the seat backs and contrasting body-colour sticthing, continuing on the armrest and passenger door handle. The Alpine White car gets a chequered flag motif on the door sill.
Otherwise, it's standard M3; comfortable but focussed with well-placed controls and enough room for four adults at a pinch. At £53,435, the Coupé Edition costs an additional £2,500 but it's actually worth it when you factor in the cost of that leather, those wheels and the other distinguishing bits and pieces. Oh, and BMW is only selling the Coupé Edition for six months so it should remain pretty rare.
Economy and safety
This is a sore point, actually. If you're lucky, and you'll need to be driving like a saint, you'll achieve 22.8mpg combined but up the pace and this V8 will see that figure plummet to the point where you'll be filling up every couple hundred miles.
At today's pump prices that is hard to live with if you drive a lot. Carbon emissions are also high at 295g/km but would be worse if it wasn't for the brake energy regeneration system.
Safety kit is in good supply, with plenty of electronic aids to keep you out of the undergrowth, and six airbags and a stiffened shell should things get messy.
The MSN Cars Verdict
M3 fans wanting a hardcore version might feel dissapointed by the Coupé Edition but for the price you get a lot of kit, a snazzy choice of colours - the blue being my favourite - and one of the most thrilling performance cars on sale in the UK.
|Need to know|
|Torque (lb ft)||295|
|Top speed (mph)||155 (limited)|
|Ride and handling||*****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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