The 2002 BMW M3 marks the high-performance version of the BMW 3 Series, and a new generation launched for the 2001 model year. As such, the 2002 BMW M3 remains relatively the same with only a few changes. The big change for the launch of the 2002 model year includes the introduction of a new transmission as an option.
The 2002 BMW M3 comes in two body styles, a coupe and a convertible, with only one trim level for each. Compared to the 2002 BMW 3 Series, the 2002 BMW M3 offers a more powerful engine, improved handling, a better suspension and steering, and enhancements made to the exterior and interior.
Body Styles: two-door coupe, two-door convertible
Engines: 3.2-liter six-cylinder
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed sequential manual
Models: BMW M3
The 2002 BMW M3 comes equipped with a six-speed manual transmission as a standard feature, but new for this year BMW offers a sequential manual transmission as an option. The six-speed sequential manual transmission is controlled by a computer and provides a clutch-less gearbox. Instead, paddles sit on the steering wheel similar to those found in Formula One cars. It can be set to automatic or manual and should be able to make shift changes faster than a driver with a manual transmission, or a conventional automatic transmission.
All other changes to the 2002 BMW M3 involve the interior. An in-dash CD changer becomes standard, and the center console gets redesigned to better accommodate new climate controls. Rear side airbags provide a new option for both the coupe and convertible.
To improve the aerodynamics of the 2002 BMW M3, as well as make it distinct from the standard BMW 3 Series, the exterior of the M3 has been modified from its counterpart. The overall size and appearance of both the standard 3 Series and the M3 look similar, but differences include different bumpers and spoilers, elliptical-shaped fog lights, and a crosshatch air intake. The hood uses aluminum and has an additional dome to allow enough space for the M engine. The tires of the 2002 BMW M3 look wider, and as such, the wheel wells flare out to accommodate the extra size. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard, and all badging looks distinct for the M3. Heated and power mirrors also come standard. In the convertible, the rear window is glass and heated, and the top offers power operation, so that it opens and closes with the push of a button.
The 2002 M3 seats four with sport bucket seats in the front. In the convertible model, 14-way power seats come standard, while power seats remain optional for the coupe. An in-dash CD changer provides a new standard feature for the 2002, which also includes power windows, remote entry, and an automatic climate control system.
Performance & Handling
Both the coupe and the convertible versions of the 2002 BMW M3 come equipped with a 3.2-liter, six-cylinder engine that produces 333 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission marks the standard for both models, while the sequential manual transmission provides an option for both. While the sequential manual transmission makes shift changes at high rpms extremely fast, it can be less smooth than manual shifting or a traditional automatic transmission at lower speeds.
Not only does the 2002 BMW M3 move quickly, but it also offers an enjoyable drive. Precision handling comes down to the communicative steering, tuned suspension, and almost perfect balance of both models. The high-performance, low-profile tires, coupled with the stiffer suspension, lead to a bumpier ride in the M3 compared to the standard 3 Series.
Standard safety equipment for the 2002 BMW M3 includes anti-lock brakes, front and side airbags, stability control, and traction control. The convertible comes equipped with a rollover protection system that automatically deploys rollover bars behind the rear seats if sensors determine an imminent rollover. The coupe has tubular head airbags for the front passengers as a standard feature, and rear side airbags remain optional in both models.
EPA Fuel Economy
BMW M3: 15/21 mpg city/highway
- Performance and precision handling
You Won't Like
- Ride can be bumpy
- Entering and exiting bucket seats
A high-performance, four-passenger car and a joy to drive.
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