the mustang is a fantastic car for the price.
the corvette is also afantastic car for the price.
but handling has never been eitherone of their strong points. i mean, it's all relative (that is to say, they both handle "well") but the m3is often the benchmark, the pinnacle, of handling for premium auto makers.
sure, you can set up a mustang as a competenttrack car with gobs of money. but can you drivethat same cararound pot-holed roads and not break your teeth, not get stuck on speed bumps?
the m3 comes track ready and yet isalso aconsumate daily driver.
these comments from insideline should yield some perspective:
In our book, the 2008 BMW M3's damping setting of Comfort is the equivalent of a BMW 3 Series
with a Sport Package suspension. In this softest setting, you'll be aware of road imperfections, but only the worst of them will be jarring. The Normal setting brings you the ride harshness of, say, a 2007 Porsche 911 GT3
, a car that only gets a pass from us because it's so damned good at the track that we'll endure the occasional punishment with a toothy grin. Finally, Sport means exactly that, as it's meant for the racetrack. It's too abusive for anything but a billiard-smooth surface, which rarely occurs in nature (well, maybe the autobahn).
Yet the M3's talents run deeper than drag racing. As our test-driver says, "One of the fastest production cars we've tested through the slalom. Very easy to maintain control at the limit. Steering delivers excellent feel and response for the inputs given." Stitch together a run free of tipped-over cones and the result is a speed of 73 mph, a record for a car that's in volume production. Skid pad? The BMW M3 with its weight distribution of 51 percent front/49 percent rear plus a trick electronically controlled rear differential produces levels of grip you expect from a sports car, with a performance of 0.95g in lateral acceleration.
The new 2008 BMW M3 possesses a range of talent that few other automobiles can rival. On one hand, it drives like any other BMW 3 Series. But pull its hair, and the M3 transforms itself into a 400-hp hypercar. Like a champion barrel-racing horse, the M3 responds favorably to having its butt whipped once in a while.
Through its own engineering magic, BMW has somehow managed to give this everyday coupe the feel of a low-volume specialty car like the Porsche 911, only with a $50,000 discount.
Nevertheless, the extroverted 2008 BMW M3 Coupe wins both for its undeniable dominance on the test track and an incongruous ability to do so while remaining perfectly capable as an everyday car. Toss in a track day or an afternoon on any of the roads of which we're so fond, and the Audi S5 begins to feel slightly out of place.