Introduced in 2007, the E92 BMW M3 was revolutionary. Unlike the previous six-cylinder E46, the E92 was powered by a thumping-great 4.0-litre V8. It was arguably less focused but still very, very fast.
The E92 re-introduced the M3 in traditional sedan guise and made it more appealing for one of its key markets: North America. Despite this, the E92 M3 is still a big deal for BMW enthusiasts as it encompasses the essence of the brand: a raw ‘ultimate driving machine’ that still has touches of luxury and sophistication.
But how do those elements stand up after 12 years of wear and tear? Is the E92 BMW M3 make a good second-hand buy?
Price & Specs: 9.0/10
When it was new in 2008, the list price of the M3 Coupe (as tested here) was $162,901 plus on-roads, making it almost $20,000 more expensive than the Mercedes C63 AMG sedan (though the M3 sedan was roughly the same price) but about $2,000 cheaper than the Audi RS4 sedan.
The M3 came standard with leather upholstery, a carbon fibre roof, an alarm, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry and ignition, heated electric front seats with driver’s memory, satellite navigation, bi-xenon headlights, automatic lights and wipers, and power-folding mirrors.
These are good standard features for a nearly 15 year old vehicle.
An early E92 M3 can be had for as little as $35,000 these days, which represents great dollar for kW value. A later E92 LCI (mid-life update) M3 can be had from $50,000 to around $70,000 for a perfect low-kilometre example.
A host of different wheel options were available with our test car having a sunroof (which removes the carbon fibre roof) and the optional M double spoke 19-inch wheels.
Performance & Economy: 8.0/10
The 4.0-litre 309kW/400Nm petrol V8 in the 2008 BMW M3 is an absolute screamer; revving all the way out to 8,400rpm and bellowing a fantastic noise when doing so. But of course, this isn’t practical all the time and so the M3 comes with adjustable drive modes.
If you’re gentle with the throttle and keep the rpm down it can be a quiet cruiser with little road noise. But put it in M mode, the devil within is woken up and the M3 is turned into a hardcore grunt machine capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of around 300km/h.
Ride & Handling: 8.0/10
While the steering is heavy no matter what mode it’s in, the M3’s suspension is forgiving and comfortable (at least in it’s default setting). M mode hardens up the adaptive dampers for sportier driving, giving a visceral driving experience.
The standard transmission is a close-ratio six-speed manual. The clutch has a nice linear feel to it and the gears give a satisfying clunk as they slot in.
A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic was an optional extra (a popular one too) but reduced the 0-100 time by 0.2 seconds. It has quick shifts and is much easier to live with than the clunky and unrefined automated manual SMG gearbox in the E46 M3.
The gearbox to go for is the manual as it makes the M3’s driving experience feel more analogue. And it’s a great pairing with the nuclear V8.
Interior & Practicality: 8.0/10
The interior of the E92 M3 is of a nice quality and feels upmarket, with a soft-touch dashboard and black headliner (signature to BMW M cars) to match.
There are hints of the vehicle’s performance around the cabin, such as the heavily-bolstered leather sports seats and chunky, M-stitched tri-colour steering wheel.
More examples of the M3’s dual personality include a roomy backseat with rear air vents and cupholders, a large 430-litre boot, and easy ingress and egress to the rear seats via the wide-opening front doors.
The iDrive system in the early model M3’s can be a bit clunky and hard to use, but the 2009 refresh gave the system shortcut keys and a newer interface, making it much more user-friendly. The leather could be had in various colours such as red, beige, grey, and black (as equipped in our test vehicle).
Running Costs & Reliability: 7.0/10
The S65 V8 engine in the M3 is a pretty tough engine if serviced per BMW’s requirements. However, like most cars, it isn’t without its faults.
If you are in the market for one, be sure to ask about the rod bearings as they are a common issue with the 4.0-litre S65 V8. They have a tendency to wear out prematurely, which could end in engine failure. Having to replace this in the M3 will set you back around $3,000, depending on where you get it done, but while that may be expensive, it’s much cheaper than a whole new engine.
Like some BMW engines, the valve cover and gasket are prone to leaking; caused by the engine heating up and cooling down after multiple high-po sessions, warping the gaskets and/or valve covers. The gasket isn’t very expensive to replace but the valve cover will set you back about $1,500 for both sides.
Depending where you go the servicing can be reasonable, but expect an average service once a year to set you back roughly $500 and a set of tyres to set you back $1,500.
2008 E92 BMW M3 DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10
As an overall package the E92 combines power, luxury and elegance in a relatively affordable package – as long as you look out for those niggly issues.