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How I review cars

All-new car reviews are coming. I'll go in depth in regards to how a car makes you feel vs the hard numbers to answer a simple question: does it have a soul?

2022 BMW M3

Never miss a new car review!

The goal of this web site has evolved from a platform to ask “please let me shoot pictures for you” to something beyond a portfolio of images. It’s become an automotive resource, and the resource is expanding. I’ve got new car reviews lined up that go beyond BMW, and I wanted to explain how I’ll be reviewing going forward.

A clear structure for car reviews

Doug DeMuro has ‘The Doug Score”. Car and Driver uses a V-Box to test 0-60 numbers for total accuracy. In between are many variations on how to review a car. Here’s how it’s going to work on Machines With Souls.

  • Cars will be placed in a category; SUV, sports car, sedan, etc. This is to prevent skewed scores. The cargo room of a Land Rover Defender is much different than a BRZ, making it a useless comparison. But you might be interested in how a BRZ stacks against a Nissan Z.
  • So many automotive publications tell you what to like, for example, “The G80 M3 has a big nose.” I will mention looks, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m not going to deduct for styling.
  • Utility, mileage, and price all matter, and they will be noted in each review. But this is about how a car feels, and how it makes you feel when you drive it.

The BMW G80 M3 review

I’ve pitted my M3 against all sorts of cars. The simple fact is that it’s one of the best modern vehicles you can buy. From performance to utility, it’s hard to beat. That makes it a perfect car to use for our first score. Each car will get a table like this at the beginning of the review, along with a specs chart at the end.

Get one:

More comfortable than its predecessor, yet faster and more capable. The most practical M3 yet. Good value if you stay away from options.

Don’t get one:

Heavy. Steering is still somewhat numb. Stick is typical notchy BMW. Gets the same mileage as my E92 used to.

Soul Score: 8

Find another modern sedan that does so much with so little sacrifice from its owner.

The Soul Score is a simple concept – does the car have a soul? Is it engaging to drive? The big magazines can tell you 0-60 times, g-loads and other scientific things. Those matter, but how many times have you read about a car with good performance numbers, only to test drive it and find it lacking in how it makes you feel? Will you really notice that your car gets to 60 in 4.1 seconds, and the other one does 4.3? Car reviews always seem to emphasize the wrong things.

For each car, I’ll go over performance, utility, efficiency, and comfort, and the scores will be in the headlines. So, for the M3, you’ll see this as a headline:

Performance score: 8. So fast, you’ll question “only” 473 horses.

At the end of the review, you’ll have as much info as you want, whether you’ve skimmed the top call out box, or gone in-depth. My signature photography will remain.

Cars are like clothing; they are both costumes for the outside world. You buy them based on how you think they will make others perceive you. What this site will now attempt to answer is: how will a car make YOU feel?

Get ready. Next week, I’m up with the Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Can this uber-SUV with V-8 power compete with the turbo sixes around it?


BMW M3 Base

Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan.


Base: $71,100;
Price as tested: $74,250


3.0-liter BMW M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine.
473 horsepower @ 6,250, 406 lb-ft @ 2,650-6,130.
Six-speed manual transmission.


Wheelbase: 112.8 in
Length: 189.1 in
Width: 74.3 in
Height: 56.4 in
Headroom: 140.6 in
Legroom F/R: 41.6 / 35.6
Curb Weight (Competition model, manufacturer’s measurement): 3,840 lb


Combined/City/Highway (Competition model): 19/16/23 mpg

Commissions may be received for product links on this site, so help out if you can. I only write about products I use and believe in.

I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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