PH Blog: the best M3? It's the 1 M!
Back to back with M3 royalty the M Coupe is the cheeky little terrier that embarrasses them all
Amongst the banquet of big V8s, the CSL and 1 M were beautiful palate-cleansers. Precision instruments. The CSL was, of course, awesome. The noise from the airbox, the poise of it's four-square chassis ready to grip and grip. But still sadly let down (in my personal opinion) by the standard brakes and SMG gearbox. The brakes simply don't cut it on a racetrack, and neither does the SMG.
While I grudgingly accept that systems like the DCT (with its double-clutch and instant changes) make cars better and faster, I still think the SMG of the CSL creates more problems than it solves for a competent driver. Turn it up to 'harsh' and it bangs the hell out of the diff and cooks its own fluids. Turn it down to soft and it drags on the clutch like an OAP with an overdue hip replacement.
In short, it was brilliant. Though the six-cylinder turbo noise could never compete with the naturally-aspirated war cry of the carbon-airboxed CSL, the actual power delivered was more than enough to keep up with the 450hp monsters we were on track with.
The torque at low revs was enough to freak out the electric nannies with only the smallest of throttle openings. And then the mid-range, rapidly throwing the needle into a breathless top-end, shift after shift. I'd stuck a little 10hz GPS datalogger on the windscreen of every car I drove, including the GTS and CSL. Everytime I exited Ford-kehre and accelerated towards the hairpin, I was checking my peak speed at the braking point. The GTS scored 192km/h, the little 1M? 186km/h. Only 6km/h slower for about one third of the price. And unlike the CSL it had brakes that worked lap after lap.
just essential for those of us who've invested far too much time and effort into the art of shifting on a racetrack. A button that does an instant downshift with perfect rev-matching and double declutching is scornful, not inspirational.
I'm sure the purists will disagree, but I reckon the 1 Series M Coupe might just have been the best M3 there. Judging by the way they hold their value , the market at large just might agree with the cheapest one in the PH classifieds commanding a smidge over £35K. What do you think?