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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Test Driving the E90 BMW M3

Today, I test drove the 2008 BMW E90 M3 Sedan. It was a long ways to get to this point...

With lease on my 2006 Audi A4 ending in a couple of months -- few weeks ago, I started my new car search. Shortly before I started the search, I was certain the the 2008/2009 Audi S4 would be my new vehicle of choice. However, that idea quickly faded when I learned that the S4 would not be available until late in 2008.

Faced with the reality that I would need to choose a different car and possibly a different brand, I started searching. My initial focus turned to BMW, a fellow German engineered company -- of which, one of my best friends has owned many a 3 series. The only problem for me was that I was only considering the Sedan (e90) as the coupe (e92) was really impractical for me. And with the e90 Sedan, I really did not like the look of the tail or rear of the vehicle.

My test drive of the BMW E90 M3 Sedan
Being that my options were limited from my perspective, I decided to still consider the 3-series BMW -- specifically looking at the 335i as a possible choice.

But, then after talking to a few friends -- the current pricing and financing available on the next level up -- both the BMW M3 and the M5 were extremely attractive given the current economic situation. Throw into the mix a corporate contact that could furthre reduce the price, I could not ignore the options in front of me. It was time to take a test drive.

We showed up at Bob Smith BMW in Calabasas, CA. While our contact was not at the office yet, another sales person helped us out with our "deal". Initially our eyes (Ashley was with me) turned to a grayish/charcoal colored 2008 M3 on the showroom floor -- "Sparkling Graphite". The machine looked great on the showroom floor, but was missing a key feature I was interested in -- the moonroof.

Then we went through the available inventory on the site -- as there were a couple of M3 sedans and choose to drive a Jet Black e90 M3. The car was pretty much loaded: Premium package with extended Novillo leather, technology package, cold weather package, some pretty sweet 19" rims, premium sound, and the all important moonroof. The car was fired up and I heard the rumble of the 420hp V8 engine come to life.

My test drive of the BMW E90 M3 Sedan 2
As I sat in the car, in some ways -- while completely different -- it felt eerily similar to my Audi A4. Ashley, sitting in the back seat -- immediately commented about how much more space there was in the back seat of the car vs the A4. Experiencing the seating for a moment, the sport seats and layout felt a lot more like a cockpit. However, that familiar German engineering was still present.

I probably could have ended the test drive there, but we still took it off the lot. The drive and power of the vehicle were impressive. Even just taking the high-revving V8 to 5000 RPM (8000+ is redline), it was quite a bit more power than I was used to. The clutch felt familiar compared to the Audi A4, very light -- like a feather.

The test drive was pretty much what I expected -- a very well powered machine, combined with great handling and comfort. Then, I was introduced to "M Mode" or a setting that adjusts the sensitivity of the gas pedel, turns on MDM (M-Dynamic Mode), and changes the electronic damping control (EDC) to super-sport. The e90 M3 changed from a luxury car into a machine.

After our 15 minute test drive, we returned to the car lot. We sat down to look at the learn the details of all the various promotions, but I was still had a number of thoughts going through my head. Did I want the Jet Black or the Sparkling Graphite color? The Jet Black had the main options I was interested in (Moonroof, EDC, Technology Package), the Sparkling Graphite did not -- but the Sparkling Graphite looked so good in the showroom.

We stuck around thinking about it for about 30 minutes while the numbers were run before getting up and walking away. My #1 rule is that unless I have pre-purchased a vehicle, never buy the car on my first visit to the dealership. There's always more cars, and it is good to step away for 24 hours before making a decision.

As we walked out of the dealership, I knew I had a lot to think about that evening between options, colors, and cars.