If you like your BMW M car lightweight, shrieky and very, very exciting, then an E46 M3 will be right up your street. The straight-six engine – which carries the codename S54 – is an absolute peach, and undoubtedly the party piece of this generation of M3. With 343hp from just 3.2 litres, it boasted one of the highest specific outputs of any naturally aspirated production car at the time of its launch, while the screaming 8,000rpm redline helps it deliver a suitably spine-tingling soundtrack.
Thanks to an M Variable Differential Lock limited-slip diff, it handles just as well as it goes, too. If you want the ultimate E46 M3, the sought-after lightweight CSL is the one to go for, though the CS model from 2005 gets the wheels, brakes, steering wheel, quicker steering rack and uprated traction control from its more hardcore sibling.
There’s also a convertible version for open-air thrill-seekers, and gearbox choices include a full six-speed manual or the six-speed sequential SMG automated manual gearbox. But whatever E46 M3 you go for, it will deliver an intense, visceral thrill that more modern sports coupes – and indeed most newer M cars – simply can’t match.