BMW E36 ///M3 Articles and Reviews:
Motor Trend July 1996: "1996 BMW ///M3 -Quicker and Tricker Than Ever" Car and Driver July 1997: "Showroom Specials" Dinan modified 3 and 8. Car and Driver August 1997: COMPARISON TEST: Life Begins at 40 (Grand) An American, two Japanese, and a German battle for your children's inheritance. By STEVEN COLE SMITH Car and Driver January 1998: 10 Best Cars Car and Driver September 1997: "The Best-Handling Car for More Than 30K"

Here is the ///M3 specific info:

BMW ///M3.

A flawless handler.

BMW's ///M3 is one of the least-expensive cars in this group. It's also the tallest and narrowest car and has the most-usable rear seat. Its first-place finish proves that superb handling does not require exotic-car packaging or exotic-car prices.

The ///M3's cockpit works naturally. The driver's seat offers a commanding view of the road and the hood's corners. Hands fall instinctively to the steering wheel and shifter, as do feet to the pedals. Heel-and-toeing is possible, and a dead pedal is included. An adjustable steering wheel would have been nice, as well as more lateral support, but these issues didn't get in the way of our adoration.

The ///M3 possesses uncanny roadgoing ability. This is the most-agile car here. The steering eagerly bites into corners and is alive with feel. "Constantly talking to my fingers," wrote Csere. It latches onto a line in corners as if on a mission from God. Webster: "Rolls gracefully into curves at a constant rate and goes right where you point it."

The ///M3 covers for you. The suspension shrugs off bumps, swells, and off-camber depressions without upsetting the line. Not once did any driver cross it up. Smith: "Overcooked a corner, and the BMW's forgiving nature made it interesting rather than scary." Even at the hairy edge of traction, the ///M3 is accepting of further driver input, which builds tremendous confidence. Unlike the Acura NSX, the Dodge Viper, or even the Ferrari F355, you feel free to explore the ///M3's limits without fear that something awful awaits if you miscalculate.

The ///M3 is like one of those mules that pull tour duty in the Grand Canyon, year after year: It isn't capable of a misstep. This car lets you seek out its limits quicker and more confidently than any of the other cars here. If that doesn't make for a winning handler, we don't know what does.

.... So, what's the best-handling car at any price? ...It's an eight-horn salute to the BMW ///M3 as "the best-handling car." Motor Trend April 1997: "BMW ///M3 vs. MERCEDES-BENZ C36 BATTLE OF THE TWO QUICKEST COMPACT FOUR DOORS ON EARTH" by John Pearley Huffman

... It takes a bit of delicacy to obtain the fastest dragstrip launch from either car (a bit more with the manual transmission in the ///M3), but both are massively rapid. The 3175-pound ///M3 takes just 5.5 seconds to reach 60 mph, while the 3550-pound C36 does the trick in 5.9. BMW claims the automatic-equipped ///M3 sedan takes 0.8 second longer to 60 than its manual brother, which would leave it slightly behind the C36. Pull up to a new Z28 in either car, and it'll be the drivers' relative skill that determines the winner of a stoplight drag. The BMW shows its power best coming off a corner when its heady torque insanely rockets the car from any apex.

In ultimate handling, the ///M3 has the clear advantage. The BMW's 69.4-mph eruption through MT's 600-foot slalom has been equaled only by the Ferrari F355, Porsche 911 Turbo, and Dodge Viper GTS among all current production cars. That's impressive company, and what's more amazing is that the ///M3's steering response may be the best of the bunch. Matching that dynamic performance are awesome brakes (60-0 mph in 113 feet). Around a tight road course, the ///M3 could well be the quickest production four-door ever ... Road and Track July 1997: "Street Civil, Track Worthy" 3 Dinan cars reviewed. Road and Track 1998: "Why Does BMW's ///M3 Steer So Well?" Motor Trend November 1998: BMW ///M3 Convertable By Matt Stone Automobile Magazine April 2006: "20 Greatest Cars That Changed the Game Forever" by Preston Lerner

The E36 ///M3 is the apogee of BMW's Ultimate Driving Machine ethos. Even today, it remains arguably the best performance-car bargain on the planet... From the moment you sit in the fighter-style cockpit, you know you're in a car designed for hard-core driving... The E46 3-series debuted in 1999, the current ///M3 two years later. It's bigger, more powerful, and more luxurious than the E36. But better? I don't think so. To me, the E46 ///M3 is too... refined. The E36 strikes the perfect balance between savage and civilized. It's not as fast as its successor, but for my money, it's more fun. And that's no idle figure of speech, by the way. Yep I own one. An E36 ///M3 writeup from BMW:

BMW M cars have long been recognized as the epitome of high performance and refinement. Building on BMW Motorsport's racing heritage, the long-awaited ///M3 is born of a tradition of innovative technology, sophisticated engineering and the determination to create one of the most exciting automobiles ever offered to Canadian driving enthusiasts.

The ///M3 was originally developed by BMW's racing department. BMW M cars reflect the synergy between BMW's racing heritage and production models built for daily use. As a result, the ///M3's motorsport successes and the numerous European and World Championship titles can now be enjoyed as a production car, available as coupe or sedan.

BMW's four-valve technology provides one of the highest specific torque and power outputs of any production engine worldwide. Exceptionally low gas-flow restrictions of the cylinder head ports guarantee optimized gas exchange, resulting in excellent low speed torque and "free-breathing" at high revs Engine management is provided by Digital Motor Electronics (DME), individual ignition coils, cylinder-selective knock control and VANOS variable camshaft control.

Digital Motor Electronics (DME) analyzes and then actually fine-tunes the engine hundreds of times a second. Each cylinder is constantly adjusted to maximum operating efficiency under virtually all conditions. DME even has many fail-safe programs: in the unlikely event of an electrical fault, it can reconfigure itself to bypass the problem. And DME has the incredible ability to diagnose itself for quick and efficient trouble-shooting.

VANOS is a combined hydraulic and mechanical camshaft control device managed by the car's DME engine management system. It operates on the inlet camshaft in accordance with engine speed and accelerator pedal position. At the lower end of the engine-speed scale, the inlet valves are opened later, which improves idling quality and smoothness. At moderate engine speeds, the inlet valves open much earlier, which boosts torque and permits exhaust gas recirculation inside the combustion chambers, so that fuel consumption and exhaust emissions are both reduced. Finally, at high engine speeds, inlet valve opening is once again delayed, so that full power can be developed.

The ///M3's suspension and steering systems are designed to provide important feedback to the driver, capitalizing on natural instincts. The result is an automobile that acts not as a separate entity, but as an extension of the driver's will. The heart of this system is the Central Link rear suspension,developed for BMW Z1 sports car. Its reinforced control arms and enhanced kinematics provide outstanding dynamic capabilities - flat, stable cornering and a smooth ride - even during aggressive handling maneuvers.

BMW's chassis engineers combined two approaches in the ///M3's steering: variable assist to help ease parking and low-speed maneuvers, and variable ratio rack-and pinion to achieve direct response characteristics.

4 Channel, 4 Sensor Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and 4 wheel ventilated disk brakes guarantee a superb stopping power and ASC+T All Season Traction Control ,uniquely combined with a mechanical Limited Slip ensures more reliable traction and retention of the chosen line when accelerating in a straight line or on a corner. How does it work? ASC+T reduces engine torque as soon as a wheel tends to spin, for instance, on a sheet of ice. If this action is not sufficient to restore tire grip, the T function (traction control) takes over and the wheel brake is applied, provided that road speed is not above 100 km/h. Torque is reduced by the engine's own management system. In this way, ASC+T keeps the car as stable as possible on all surfaces and in critical driving situations. The system includes engine drag torque regulation, to prevent the driven wheels from locking momentarily on a slippery surface if the level of engine braking becomes too high.

Up to a speed of 40 km/h, traction control has the same effect as a conventional limited-slip differential. Since the left and right wheels can be braked independently, ASC+T is comparable to one of these devices with a locking action of almost 100 percent. But it can be switched off in unusual situations where complete suppression of wheel spin may be undesirable, for instance when rocking the car free on a soft, yielding surface.

Passive safety is represented by the crash sensor and the exceptionally rigid safety bodyshell with its programmed deformation zones at front and rear, side intrusion protection and special door anchors. which has proved its worth in innumerable actual tests and realistic accident simulations.

In the event of a frontal crash, the driver's and front passenger's airbags, which are standard equipment, greatly improve head and upper body protection. Standard side airbags enhance the overall level of occupant protection if the car is struck or hits an obstacle on either side.

BMW believes a driver should be confident and a fully functioning part of the automobile. And to make the driving experience as rewarding as possible, the ///M3 is designed so that controls, gauges and information panels are positioned to become an extension of the driver's arms, legs and eyes. As a result the driver's skills are optimized; instincts and reflexes are used to their fullest advantage.

The instrument panel curves in from the right for a true cockpit effect, putting everything directly at your fingertips and in open view. Important controls, such as windshield wipers, turn signals and headlights are placed in a primary zone near the steering wheel. Controls for heating and cooling and the sound system are in a secondary zone to the right. The ///M3's sophisticated monitoring and information systems keep the driver informed of a wide range of systems and functions, such as fluid levels, lights, brakes, or the need for servicing. And thanks to an electrostatic microfiltration system that filters dust and pollen, the air inside may actually be cleaner than the air outside.

Protection for your car against theft or joy-riding is assured to a previously unknown standard by the electronic immobilizer. This uses an electronically coded chip in the otherwise conventional ignition key. This transmits one of a hundred billion possible codes, which has to be identified correct before the engine can be started.


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