The M3 is a high-performance version of BMW’s popular 3 Series. It is a sport compact car with a front-engine rear-drive layout. M3 production began in 1986, the first generation spanning 1986 through 1992. These were available in a two-door coupe or convertible version with a 2.3-liter inline-four engine and a five-speed manual. The next generation was a bit more powerful; those made from 1992 through 1999 featured either a three-liter inline-six or a 3.2-liter inline-six. The two-door coupe and convertible remained in the lineup and BMW added a four-door sedan model. The third generation M3 was in production from 2001 through 2009. BMW dropped the four-door sedan model, sticking to a sporty coupe and convertible. The exterior was updated for this generation as well. The four-door models were re-introduced along with the two-door coupe and convertibles. The exterior was redesigned with more rounded front-end and more gradual curves throughout, still with BMW’s trademark split grille in the front. The boost in power was more significant, up to a four-liter V-8.
The BMW M3 is known for outstanding performance, sporty style, and is often a favorite of critics within the car industry for its handling and speed. The 2004 models received only moderate changes from 2003, most of these centering on aesthetic options for the convertible.
Body Styles: coupe, convertible
Engines: 3.2-liter inline-six
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed auto-shift manual
Models: BMW M3
For 2004, the coupe received only minor changes. The convertible added a dark blue soft-top as an option as well as a few more interior and exterior color choices.
Though the overall styling and profile takes its cues from the 2004 330Ci coupe, the M3 adds a few unique details such as an altered and sportier bumper and spoiler, elliptical foglamps, and a crosshatch center air intake. The M3 has an aluminum hood. The tires are wider on the M3 so the wheel openings are flared to accommodate this, and the M3 logo is located on the front fender and on the gills. Though not too noticeable unless there are next to one another, the M3 has a wider front and rear than its 3 series counterpart; the suspension is upgraded as well as other components beneath the body, and 19-inch wheels are optional.
The 2004 BMW M3 interior seats four and a power easy-entry feature makes getting in and out of the somewhat crowded backseat a little easier. The front is roomy, and the convertible version gets power front seats. The coupe has 9.5 cubic feet of cargo space, and the convertible only has 7.7 cubic feet. Overall, the interior layout is attractive with controls easy to find and easy to reach. Several different trims and interior materials are available. Some features include heated glass rear windows for the convertible along with a power top, optional navigation, and the Park Distance Control system from BMW.
Performance & Handling
The 2004 BMW M3 has a 333-hp 3.2-liter inline-six with variable valve timing that quickly gets the car up to speed. This is coupled with a Getrag Type D six-speed manual transmission with the option of sequential shift incorporated. Both sacrifice smooth for speed and sport performance, which is what drivers look for in the M3 models. BMW states the M3 coupe can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and the M3 convertible can get there in 5.4 seconds. All-speed traction control, cornering stability enhancement, and Dynamic Stability Control make it one of the most impressive handling vehicles around.
Some 2004 BMW M3 safety features include all-disc anti-lock brakes and side-impact airbags standard. A Rollover Protection System for the convertible raises structural bars automatically when a rollover is about to occur. Rear side-impact airbags are optional.
EPA Fuel Economy
BMW M3: 16/22 mpg city/highway
- Impressive performance
- Handling at the top of its class
- Quality of construction
You Won't Like
- Uncomfortable on rough surfaces
- Fuel efficiency
- SMG operation
Super sporty but sacrifices some BMW luxury.
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