Car: BMW M3 Coupe (E92)
Owned since: February 2017
Previously owned: Toyota GT86, Skoda Octavia VRS, BMW 330Ci, Mazda Eunos Roadster RS, VW Golf GTI Mk5, Alfa 156, various VW Boras, Renault Clio GT, a couple of bikes and many more random sheds I've probably missed!
Why I bought it:
"I was in a position to upgrade my Toyota GT86 to something a bit more 'special'. I've always wanted a 911, but thought I best look at all the alternatives in my budget range. It had to be rear-wheel drive, and it had to be a manual. I did have a look at M4s, but in my budget I was looking at early non-Comp Pack cars. I found it a bit nervous on the road and didn't really gel with it on a test drive. I was going to leave it there and go back to drooling over undesirable 996s like the reprobate I am, but that was until a friend at a local BMW dealership said they had something rather nice coming in for Approved Used. The car was Melbourne Red, low mileage and absolutely mint. I was surprised they even still sold E92s, so thought I better check it out, just to be sure...
"The main dominating factor of the whole car is the engine; inside it's basically a well specced 3 Series and outside it's a 3 Series with some wide shoulders. But the engine is what I fell in love with, helped mainly by its tweaked exhaust. Although I 'slept' on it, I didn't really sleep at all. I called the minute the dealership opened the next day to say 'I'll take it!', and I'm glad I did."
"The engine. It's an absolute masterpiece, and truly one of the last naturally aspirated great of the 2000s. The way it revs is very addictive; the novelty does not wear off. Mine also has a modified exhaust; the previous owner (who I managed to internet stalk) informs me it has had the '2.5 mod'. I don't actually know what this means, other than loud. But I'm glad he did it, even if my neighbours aren't.
"I also love its personality, which is something I think every car needs before I can part with cash for it. It manages to give me enough of its mental side to keep me excited, but also enough refinement to not irritate me.
"It also gets a surprising amount of admiration. I just assumed everyone would think 'knob' (and I'm not saying everyone doesn't). However, it does get a few nice comments at petrol stations and the like. Even my girlfriend likes it, and she hates a good 95 per cent of cars I come home with.
"The iDrive system was a nice surprise. Yes, you do need to be NASA qualified for all space missions to fathom it out, and yes the graphics wouldn't look out of place on a Commodore Vic20. However, once you get used to the system it's actually very capable. It's certainly impressive how well it performs considering its 10 years old."
"One of the many pitfalls of owning an Approved Used BMW is having to deal with BMW aftersales. I've had few issues with the car, but the ones I have had caused me headaches purely because of the dealer's service. Luckily, BMW UK themselves are quite helpful, but you shouldn't have to use them in the first place.
"Insuring the thing has also proven to be a completely bemusing affair. I either get laughed at down the phone when I tell them I'm 25, or told they don't insure BMW M3s at all. When I finally do get quotes they range from the bloody expensive, to the GDP of Rwanda. But you sort of know exactly what you're getting into with a car like this and costs. Fuel is lots, tax is lots, servicing is even more.
"Since I was lucky enough to sample its speed on some derestricted autobahn, I discovered the sealing around the pillarless doors is awful. Specifically when you start pushing past 120, it starts to whistle. At 170mph (that's where I found out it had also been derestricted...) the noise was properly deafening. A bit annoying on a BMW I'd say, but not an issue in the UK - maybe I'm being picky?"
"Well, the main ones are those already mentioned: insurance, fuel and tax. I've paid north of £900 the past two years for insurance, on top of that its £525 a year to tax. I can eek around 200-250 miles out of £70-80 worth of Shell's finest, which is at least 100 miles less than my Mk7.5 Golf GTI commuter does. But again, I didn't buy it expecting anything more.
"Most of the issues have been done under warranty. These have included a leaky headlight washer, a rear light cluster missing some nuts, and a complete wheel refurb due to flaking paint. Luckily, a lot of bits were done before I purchased the car so I've escaped fairly scot-free. However, the warranty has just run out and my quote for another 12 months is north of £4,000..."
"One of the main reasons the M3 ticked so many boxes was that I love driving through Europe; I've done a few trips now and, as I expected, it was perfect. In the summer I drove to Lake Como, taking the car via the Nurburgring, its home in Munich, and a few mountain passes too. It was absolutely perfect for the trip, and I can't think of many better cars in its price bracket. It was a good test of its many personalities, and helped me gain confidence in using its power."
"Alas, 12 months in one car is a rather long time for me. I have started to gaze elsewhere, and I think I need to scratch the 911 itch before I grow up and become an actual homeowner. I think I will struggle to see this one go however, so don't expect to see me rushing it out!"
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