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The ultimate BMW E9X M3 review

Read the ultimate review of the BMW E9X M3, from an owner of 9 years. See original delivery photos and how it compares to other M3s.

E92 M3

This is a repost I wrote for Bimmerpost, “An exit interview with my E9X M3 / Good bye!” in March of 2019.

Yes, YES, it’s true. I’ve sold my M3, to a fellow forum member actually, which I am very grateful for.

So another original owner goes away, but I hope I’ve been able to help everyone with shared experiences and love for the car. Many of you have certainly helped me.

I’ve decided to have a Q&A with myself, because 9 years is a long history with a car.

So what’s next?

I’m not sure, but maybe a G80. Having three cars is a lot of responsibility and a time suck, so it’ll be nice to take at least a little time off from that. I will probably replace the 335 with the G80 and actually drive that to enjoy it, something I felt being the original owner of the E92 prevented me from doing after while.

Why the E9X M3 in the first place?

Let’s go back in time…to before every BMW dealer became an F80 nest. I had a 350Z, and while I loved the car, it was time for something truly special. I was intent on trying many things, and I started with a GT-R. That felt FAST, and POWERFUL annnddd sort of like a big expensive Z car. I didn’t see the allure, and I had Japanese cars since I had a license. I wanted German.

I went over to Porsche, but the Cayman was too small, and though better balanced than the Z, it wasn’t 25k better. Plus I wanted something faster.

They did tempt me with a 997 4S, black over tan, with just 7k miles on it. But that was the same price as a new M3, which I could spec how I wanted. And though 911s are awesome and I’d like to own one someday, they are a dime a dozen, so to speak. That particular car wasn’t special to me.

I had remembered a Car & Driver article comparing the E92 to a 911 Turbo and GT-R, and at the time I thought it was impossible that it could win, but it did.

Their opinions usually jive with my own, and once I drove the M3, I was sold. I placed an order, and watched it sail across the ocean 8 weeks later.

Why did you only put 30,000 miles on it?

If you drive yours every day, I say more power to you, but being in New Jersey, we have chronic traffic, worse than most. Sitting in traffic with this thing just seems like such a waste, which is why I’m proud to say every mile on the car is either from the track, a back road drive, a car show, or a group drive. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

How bout that depreciation, ami right?!

The original owner will always take the biggest percentage loss on a car, but when you look at resale value, I essentially got to own an M3 for 9 years for half the price. I’ll take that deal every time.

You never did your rod bearings, why?

Simple; I took care of the car. Proper M break-in, frequent oil changes, proper warm ups…I would have done them eventually, but even then, many miles and years from now. My theory about all of this is the leases these cars were on. “Who cares, it’s not mine” leads to bad behaviors and maintenance plans. At this point in the game, if you don’t know the full history of your car, do ’em.

Best experience in the car?

That would be the first time I took it to the track. An HPDE event at Pocono. By the third go around I was into a good rhythm, and on Pocono you have that long back NASCAR banked straight. I remember windows down, speed 140 and climbing, and the engine sound echoing off the track wall. Nothing will ever sound like that again, ever ever. It’s impossible to enjoy that motor 100% unless it’s on a track.

Does it actually make a good track car?

Yes, even for beginners. It’s heavy, you really feel the weight when you push it, and the suspension is a little soft, but that just makes it more forgiving and easier to learn on. And we’re still talking very high limits here. As in any M car, they are easy to drive at the limit with plenty of warning before loss of traction, and it feels smaller the faster it’s driven.

Favorite things about the E92?

Well the engine is always number one, but it goes beyond that. It’s just so well balanced in everything it does. Nice sized trunk, good supportive seats, an interior that I thought was a step above the F30, despite being older. Suspension that never killed you with a harsh ride, always capable. The overall feeling of the car, despite it being slowly than an F80, was better I always thought. It was responsive and talkative in a way modern M cars are not.

What did you not like about the E9X M3?

Some things. The brakes were never really that good. I was introduced to the concept of OMG FADE pretty quickly. Upgrade them if you want to seriously track it.

The 6MT is just fine. Really, it’s the same MT as in any other BMW. Somewhat notchy, long throws, but fine. The stock shifter looks like a marital aid.

Steering was excellent! But not as good as my 350Z. Truth.

Finally, fuel economy. I’m with all of you…who cares. BUT, when you fill up the car, and drive about 100 miles, some of it spirited, then find out you only have a quarter tank left…gets old. Also, I’m an idiot for thinking I’d be fine on one tank at the track.

Sixth gear should NOT make the engine spin at 3,300 RPM doing 80. That’s not really an overdrive gear.

The seating position is high, but I never noticed this until I got an F30 as a daily. It became more annoying as I got older, go figure.

By luck of the draw, I had the factory Continental tires. Before selling, I put PS4s on. There was no comparison. I hope they work out a better way at the factory than doing month on / month off for suppliers.

Why sell the E9X M3 now?

This is something I’ve been thinking about for some time. Watching values of the car dip lower and lower, now seems like the best time to get out. Because I’m the original owner, the value of the car is a bit more than some others on the market, but even still, I believe that once the G80 comes out, prices will drop even lower into the 20s before recovering. At that point, I’d most likely have the car beyond 15 years. And modifying it would only lessen value at this point. F80s, and G80s I’m sure, are much more common and therefore much less likely to retain as much value. There is no crystal ball, but this seems like as good a time as there will be.

Where does the E9X M3 fit / will it appreciate over time?

If you point to any Corvette over its history, you’ll find that the car has remained the same from a concept and design standpoint (although that’s about to change in a big way). That goes for many sports cars. Not so for the M3. Each generation is so very different from the other, I think it comes down to what you’re nostalgic for, and what you value.

Of all M3s, the E9X is most like a gran tourer. Big, comfortable, stable at high speeds. That’s not a bad thing at all, it just depends on what you like and what you value in your sports car.

I was at Park Avenue over the summer, and they had a Lime Rock edition locked away with 8 miles on it, still had the factory wrapping on the inside. The sticker was over 100k. Go down the market and you’ll find frozen editions for 50-60k. Everyone else is below 40. My advice is save the frozen and Lime Rock editions, drive the others. But really, these cars were meant to be driven hard, even periodically. To put it in a bubble and stare at it for years isn’t going to do anyone any good, and you’ll never make your money back, let alone make a profit.

What will you miss the most about the E9X M3?

Of course, the engine, and the sound. Every conversation with this car begins and ends with the engine. It cannot be replicated with today’s technology and engine set ups. The F8X sound issue is well documented, so I won’t go into that here, but I’m hoping the G80 will improve upon it. Nothing will compare to this thing though.

Did you ever lug it / no torque bro?

My personal driving style is to really enjoy wringing out the car. The more I push it, the more precise it is, the better I feel. So for me, the lack of torque in the car was never an issue. The car never felt like it was low on it, to be frank. At the track, you’re never out of 3rd for more than a minute with a 6MT, and that’s where the torque lives, so I thought it was fine. But yes you CAN lug it and it isn’t a good feeling.

Will you ever get another E9X M3?

No. I had the one I considered the perfect spec, everything else would just be a let down. Although I did always think Mineral White Metallic, Carbon Fiber roof, M Performance CF parts…YUM.

How do you keep it so clean?!

A lot of work and AMMO, but if you want to replicate the success I’ve had, get 3 things. A power washer / or foam gun, a drying aid with plenty of Microfiber towels, and a sealant. 

I did not put paint protection film on it, a decision I will change on my next car, as I feel like the technology has improved greatly from 10 years ago.

Also, not driving it in the winter was a big help, because whatever brine they are using now on the roads is TERRIBLE on the cars.

Has BMW lost their way?

I don’t think so. They will get the steering feel correct on these EPS units, the chassis set ups are still first class, and the engines are as smooth as ever. The G80 is possibly the last M3 with a stick option AND an ICE, even though 10 years ago they were making an M3 with an engine that had a gas guzzler tax attached to it. Change is good, embrace it.

Final thoughts?

I need the perfect car. It should be good looking, but not stand out too much. It should be fast, but not so fast that it can’t be enjoyed on the street. It should be practical, so I can fit things in the trunk, and take fellow bros for rides. It should be sharp and precision-like when driving, but not try to kill me with every pebble I run over. It should make me want to roll the windows down at every tunnel so I can hear the exhaust.

It should make me look like a better driver than I really am.

That, my friends, is the BMW E9X M3.

Enjoy them!

BMW E92 M3
Delivery prep.
BMW E92 M3
In front of the dealership.
BMW E92 M3
In the paddocks at Pocono Raceway. It’s one of the reasons the M2 shoot was so special.
BMW E92 M3
Asleep in the garage.
BMW E92 M3
Changing number 8 spark plug: not fun.
BMW E92 M3
The most famous shot of the car, it was featured both on Jalopnik and the Turner Motorsport Calendar.
BMW E92 M3

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