The love affair really got under way when we ran a BMW M3 on the PH fleet for six months, during which time it got under my skin more effectively than any other car I've spent more than a few days with.
I adore its howling V8; its compact, balanced chassis; the way it flatters the driver, even if you take away all the electronic aids. Our Monte Carlo blue example's smooth and intuitive DCT twin-clutch transmission even convinced me - for the first time - of the benefits of a double-clutch paddle shift transmission.
So when BMW asked us if we wanted a go at the latest M3, now with some blink-and-you'll-miss-it revisions, the answer was an immediate yes. Followed by a little bit of dribbling.
The important, grown-up and sensible news is that all M3s now come with stop-start tech (the first BMW with more than six cylinders to do so), and regenerative braking - which engages the alternator to charge the battery on the overrun - has also been added.
More interesting, however, is the news that the M3 now comes with an optional 'Competition Pack'. This is basically the same as the Edition pack option except that, on top of the 19-inch Y-spoke alloys and a ride height that's been lowered by 10mm, you also get a tweaked sport mode on the electronic dampers, and a revised (read less intrusive) stability control system.
In truth, applying the moniker 'competition' to such subtle mods is probably a bit cheeky, but you can feel the difference between it and a standard car when you push hard. There's an extra sharpness to the steering - and a tiny bit more firmness to the ride in exchange for sharper body control - that you don't get in the standard car, although 95 per cent of that feeling comes through with the Edition pack and so must be due more to the lighter wheels and lowered suspension than the electronic trickery.
On track - a place we didn't get a chance to do go during our week with the car - we suspect that the revised damper set-up and stability control system would probably make itself felt a bit more, but on the road it's pretty hard to feel that much difference.
It's certainly better value than the £1755 you'll pay for the pretty but showy Frozen Grey paint option. Unlike in the US, British customers won't have to waive parts of the warranty if they pick the matt paint, but BMW advises a strict care regime, and we dread to think what it would do to an M3's residual values. It also takes the price of the car we tested to a sharp £60,935. That's getting dangerously close to 911 money.
As for us, we'd take the Edition spec and save ourselves a bit of cash. Preferably, we'd have YB09 GKD back. Anyone at BMW listening...?