Long considered one of the best sports sedans on the market, the 2012 BMW M3 represents the ultimate iteration of the 3 Series range: A track monster with all the luxury and technology amenities BMW could shove into its compact offering. At the heart of the BMW M3 is a high-revving 4.0-liter V-8 engine that belts out a screaming 414 horsepower. That power is routed to the rear wheels via BMW’s six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed DCT sequential automatic.
Styling is more aggressive than the standard coupe and convertible with widened fenders, a “power dome” hood, and vents that let hot air from out of the engine compartment. The car also features computer-selectable programs to optimize suspension and throttle settings for the road or race course.
What has always made the 2012 BMW M3 a treat, though, isn’t its all-out performance but rather its balance and poise that make it one of the best all-arounders out there. It’s just as practical to use as a daily driver as it is a track-day toy, although we imagine it would be more fun on an open raceway.
Bodystyles: Coupe, convertible
Engines: 4.0-liter V-8
Transmissions: six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual
Models: M3 (coupe, convertible)
Loved by enthusiasts with families but underappreciated in the marketplace, the four-door M3 ended production October 2011 and will not be produced as a 2012 model. However, smartphone and MP3 player connectivity have become standard equipment on the 2012 BMW M3, along with floor mats and BMW Assist. The navigation system is now a standalone option, and several options packages have been consolidated. For the first time, BMW is offering its customizable BMW Individual package with the 2012 BMW M3, allowing customers to selected limited-edition paints, leathers, and a piano black interior trim.
With blistered fenders and a wide-mouth air dam in front, the 2012 BMW M3 looks as close to a race car as BMW could make it. A carbon fiber roof on the coupe replaces the standard steel roof, helping shave weight from the top of the car and lower its center of gravity for better twisty-road handling. Out back, a modest diffuser surrounds the M3’s four exhaust pipes. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard with 19-inch wheels available as optional equipment.
Although most of the interior is standard-fare 3 Series, BMW employs two thickly-bolstered bucket seats to keep passengers in place that are unique the 2012 BMW M3. A thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel stitched in BMW Motorsports’ signature red, blue, and purple replaces the standard wheel, and Alcantara lines the roof. A 9000-rpm tachometer, 200-mph speedometer, and optional carbon fiber-look trim complete the interior’s differentiation.
Performance & Handling
The 2012 BMW M3’s stupid-fast performance leaves little to be desired, posting a 0 to 60 mph time close to 4 seconds on the way to an electronically limited 155 mph top speed. Its handling ability is no less impressive, posting numbers similar to dedicated sports cars despite its heft and true four-seat capacity. To get most of its performance from its small-displacement V-8, the engine must remain high in the rev range, which may get old on the daily commute.
The 2012 BMW M3 has all of the same safety features as the rest of the 3 Series range, including two-stage adaptive brake lights, which increase in intensity during a full ABS stop, driver and passenger front airbags,and frontal side impact and front and rear head curtain bags. Traction and Stability Control are also standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
M3: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
M3 convertible: 13-14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
- Surreal performance
- Everyday usability
- Outlandish styling
- V-8 engine noise
You Won't Like
- M3 sedan no longer offered
- Not that fun in slower driving
Not the best at any one thing, but definitely the best all-arounder.
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