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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/10/08 7:38 p.m.

There seemed to be some bellyaching that we gave the new M3 five stars in our online review. Some of you said that its fuel economy should have been a strike against its daily driver manners.

So, using our rating categories--stock performance, performance potential, daily driver manners, fit and finish, and overall--what car would you guys say deserves a straight five-star rating?

Feedyurhed New Reader
7/10/08 7:46 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote: There seemed to be some bellyaching that we gave the new M3 five stars in our online review. Some of you said that its fuel economy should have been a strike against its daily driver manners. So, using our rating categories--stock performance, performance potential, daily driver manners, fit and finish, and overall--what car would you guys say deserves a straight five-star rating?

Wow, tough crowd. I would think the M3 is as close to 5 star as you can get. After all any car with stellar performance almost always takes a hit in economy.

yo vanilla
yo vanilla New Reader
7/10/08 7:55 p.m.

It's hard for me to give any BMW a great rating. It wasn't that many years ago I worked at a BMW dealership, and we called them BMTroubleU's because we had to push so many of them into the shop...

MrJoshua Dork
7/10/08 7:59 p.m.

Too many variables. No one car can do it all. So if you have to give one 5 stars I wouldn't argue much with it being that one.

MitchellC New Reader
7/10/08 8:40 p.m.

Lotus Exige. Daily driver? Why not?

I would have to guess that the grumblings about the M3 score are more related to its nanny devices and price. What would definitely get five stars from the online community is a brand new 2200 lb RWD two seater with ~200 hp and cost under $15k. Unfortunately the price of unobtanium has gone up in the past few years.

GregTivo New Reader
7/10/08 8:49 p.m.

Ford Mondeo....OR...a Subaru Legacy Outback

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/10/08 9:10 p.m.

I would do an elise as a daily.. but then I used to DD a fiat.

Personally, the big problems with bmws is all the electronics.. and in the case of the M3.. how do you change anything in such a way that it does not HURT performance? That car is pretty well sorted right from the factory

P71 GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/10/08 9:26 p.m.

Old cars? I can think of quite a few, even at original MSRP.

New cars? MUCH harder! They're just so, fat. Seriously, park a 1st Gen RX-7 or MR2 next to a Yaris and tell me it doesn't look like an obese ho-ho eating car!

So for me it would have to be lightweight, have serious power, and be affordable. The MS3 comes dang close, though I would 5-star the now-dead MS6 first. Corvette (in base, Z51, Z06, or ZR1 form) gets a serious nod at 5-stars.

Solstice GXP is probably the #1 for me right now.

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/10/08 9:35 p.m.

heh.. put all four generations of M3 next to each other.. talk about putting on the pounds.

joshx99 New Reader
7/10/08 9:35 p.m.

The problem is that a new BMW isn't very grassroots at all. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy reading about new cars. The problem is that the price to buy, own, and modify (if you can even do anything to it without making it slower) should put a dent in this car's score.

ReverendDexter New Reader
7/10/08 9:52 p.m.

How can they be belly-aching about the fuel economy of the M3? Top Gear empirically proved that the M3 gets better gas mileage than the eco-pansy Prius.

carguy123 Reader
7/10/08 9:56 p.m.

Based upon 6 years of ownership I'd say the Honda S2000.

It's 2 cars in one.

If I stay out of VTEC it's a Miata with Miata like manners, Miatalike power, Miata like gas mileage (actually on the road I get better gas mileage out of the S2000 than I do in my Miata), unMiatalike roominess and comfortable seats, unMiatalike very nice size trunk, unMiatalike interior lights that actually allow you to see things in the dark, and probably a few more things that I can't think of right now. The 6 speed shifter is butter smooth whereas the 6 speed in the Miata is easy to miss gears. You only have to think the S2000 into gear.

When I VTEC it, the car totally changes character and instead of a little girlie car it becomes manly and froths at the mouth at every other car on the road, even cars it knows it can't beat. It stays in VTEC as you row thru the gears and snarls at the top of it's lungs (I have a CAI). It lifts and separates, wait, no that's my wife's bra, but it does sorta lift from the ground as it engages VTEC and reminds me a lot of the old Ed Roth drawings of the 60's. In other words it transforms characters.

It is extremely reliable! In the 6 years of ownership I have only had to replace the tires, oil, add gas occassionally, and, oh yeah there was that hole in the soft top thing that was replaced under warranty even tho the car was out of warranty.

It is extremely nimble and the local BMW club had to give us a special class at their autocrosses as they were tired of non-BMWs winning top spots. The M, while a capable sedan, just isn't in the same league.

I was at a Track day at Texas Motor Speedway a couple of years ago where we ran the Roval set up which is almost the full oval course with the full infield. The Porsche Club was there and so was the Corvette club. My S2000 was the king of the track for the street cars on street tires. There was a Porsche Boxster S that hung with me up until the chicane they put at the start finish line. (I was topping out in 5th gear at that point) I could just tap the brakes and make the chicane, he couldn't. Surprisingly none of the Vettes came close to us, but I figure that was the driver limitations more than the cars. They definitely have a much better top end and should have caught up to us on the oval.

And yet my wife uses it to go get groceries and my daughter used to cruise in it on Saturday nite.

It seems to be all things to all people. The only thing it's missing is a back seat, and you know I don't miss it. I have a pick up truck with a back seat for when I need that.

MitchellC New Reader
7/10/08 11:10 p.m.

I have always been a fan of the S2K's styling; it's definitely near the top of my convertible list. The stratospheric redline of the first few years is pretty neat, too.

amg_rx7 New Reader
7/10/08 11:10 p.m.

I would think the C6 Vette and Porsche Boxster would be on that list also.

The M3 seems to be a good car and all but for that much money and its fuel efficiency, it doesn't seem to fit into today's world as well as past models. They should have made it 500 pounds lighter and a bit more efficient. The e46 already felt like a heavy pig on track. Granted it is an awesome car on track but you do feel its heft.

BMW's sometimes poor reliability and increased complexity and especially its annoying dealer service dept also factor into my perceptions about this car and would personally keep me from giving it 5 stars.

924guy HalfDork
7/10/08 11:13 p.m.

the only cars i have been impressed by in recent history is the 08' mini cooper s, the new rabbit, and the cayman s... we bought the rabbit as it made the most sense and money is tight, but she wont let me turn it into a thunder bunny just yet...

curtis73 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/11/08 2:09 a.m.

Is it too late to put my vote in for a 67 Pontiace GTO convertible? I don't even car if it runs, that's a 5-star car for me :)

I like the M3, but to say that it has advanced as quickly as other sports coupes isn't necessarily accurate. I almost feel like BMW was at the forefront with the M3, but then with the E46 they kinda started adding things that didn't need to be added; weight, paddle shift, that ugly blue color, 19" wheels. BMW always catered to a richer crowd, but we grassroots guys cherish the spartan E30; a car that has a refined spartan kind of thing. I've driven a few E46 and one E92. The E46 is sexy, but too luxurious and smooshy. I didn't feel connected. The E92... I felt like I was driving a Bentley or a Maybach... way too much isolation and computer input.

But maybe I'm just old..... at 34.

JFX001 HalfDork
7/11/08 7:23 a.m.

Cadillac CTS-V

Honda Odyssey

I can't think of a coupe.

confuZion3 HalfDork
7/11/08 8:42 a.m.

I'd say the M3 is very fuel efficient. It takes a E36 M3 load of fuel, lights it on fire, and spits out so much energy at such a high rate that God steps back and says, "Damn!".

SUPER-EDIT: If I am going to give a car a five-star rating it will be because the car does what it is intended to do extremely well without compromise. Making a high-dollar, high-performance sports car go fast with the ability to take four (or five in a squeeze) in comfort around town seems to be what that car is about. BMW makes no promise of fuel economy - it's a racey engine in a fast car - so I don't care. BMW offers other reasonably fuel-efficient models that you can take instead if that's what you want. None of them make promises of high fuel economy though because they really aren't intended to have high fuel economy.

Asking BMW to do the same thing they have already done with the car (make it wonderful and fast) AND requiring it to get 45 mpg is like trying to teach my dog calculus. It's stupid, and I want no part of it.

Chris_V SuperDork
7/11/08 10:12 a.m.
yo vanilla wrote: It's hard for me to give any BMW a great rating. It wasn't that many years ago I worked at a BMW dealership, and we called them BMTroubleU's because we had to push so many of them into the shop...

The problem with this line of thinking is that people that work in ANY manufacturer's service department will have the same feelings towards that manufacturer's cars. Why? Because no one has you work on a non-broken car except for oil changes and scheduled service intervals. So pretty much all you'll SEE are the few broken examples (and even if only 5% of the cars made are broken, it equals a large number in the service bay at any given time).

aircooled Dork
7/11/08 10:32 a.m.

I was one of the ones that mentioned the fuel economy of the M3, I guess I should explain myself:

The primary reason this erks me a bit is that I tire a bit of reviews of expensive high end cars that are so great. Why? Well if they are expensive and high end, they really should be great! For those endowed with money, that is fine, but for the "common man" it is not realistic. Normally I would say GRM would get a pass on worrying about economics, because of the performance focus, but there is the "Grassroots" in the name.

This is primarily a complaint of other magazines / shows that review cars. (hey, the new $75,000 supermobile is great!, ya no sh#&t, it's 75 grand, it better be great) It just seems that a car review should be an overall review and they all seem to leave out the economics when weighting the measures. Its kind of like reviewing cars by driving them around a track. Well that is great if you buy it as a track car, but not terribly relevant for an everyday car. It reminds me of computer (Apple mostly) reviews I used to read and how they would complain so much about how hard it was to do upgrades to the computer. Well, as you may know, very few people ever upgrade a computer, so it was a bit silly.

From my perspective, if there is a "good" car (using the common review standards) that cost twice what an "OK" car does, the "OK" car should get as good or better rating. And, of course, these days, fuel economy hits very hard and has a big overall cost effect on cars.

What is my idea of a current 5 star car? Well, I don't deal with new cars much (my newest is 43 years old), but as an example, if a new Miata was $18,000, from a GRM perspective, that would be a 5 star car. It might not be for the average driver, but for a GRM reader, that is tops. Because Miatas push $25 grand these days, I am not sure they rate 5 stars. Also the fact that the Miata really doesn't get the mileage that you might think it should might hurt it a bit. (for a car that light, it really should do better, but I do understand it is more performance optimized than other cars).

The MINI's and the MazdaSpeed 3 might also be in consideration. Both combine amazing performance for the money and the mileage. Should the new Skyline be a 5 star? (it might be faster than the M3), well personally, I think it wanders so far from "grassroots" both in price and execution that I wouldn't think so (even if it is a great overall ride)

A real new 5 star car? Re-issue the 87 CRXsi, that's would be an easy 5 star, even if it is wrong wheel drive. (and yes, I know it will never happen)

Just my opinion.

bravenrace HalfDork
7/11/08 10:54 a.m.

1989 Civic si.

MiatarPowar Reader
7/11/08 12:01 p.m.

For me, the five-star car is an Elise. Most people probably wouldn't agree with that in the 'dd manners' category, though.

walterj HalfDork
7/11/08 12:02 p.m.

The problem isn't the car - it is what is a $75k, bloated GT car doing wasting pages about "How good it is out of the box" and "for its weight" in the magazine for guys who subscribe to GRM because you are NOT Automobile Magazine. Well, that, and all the gushing made you look like a shill for BMW NA.

Have you looked in the Reader's Rides section here? Even if most of your audience could afford a new M3, they'd buy 3 E46 M3s for that money, gut one, keep one nice and use one for parts.

racerdave600 New Reader
7/11/08 12:09 p.m.

I agree with aircooled, I personally would rate the MINI a 5 star over the M3. I haven't driven the new one yet, so I can't comment on the way it drives, but it really doesn't translate into the real world very well. It's big, it's heavy, it's fast, it sucks fuel, and has very iffy electronics if BMW history is anything to go by. Everyone always raves about their quality, but I've always found BMW's inferior to Honda and Toyota products from my own personal experience. They use better materials for sure, but for what they cost, they better, but put together better they are not.

Where they really shine though is in the driving, and while the new M3 should drive very well, my experience again has been that with every really fast car I've owned, I tire of them sooner rather than later. In my opinion, cars that are too competent are pretty boring, and if you have to be well into triple digits to start having fun, they're better off collecting dust in the garage while the Miata or MR2 are out playing. Blowing you away on the track, and living with a car day in and day out are totally different animals.

So to me, the best BMW is the MINI if you don't want a garage queen, and for the 5 star ratings, I'd have to say it depends on the end user and what they need. For new cars, I don't really have a preference. With the exception of the Cayman, there isn't a new car that I really want.

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
7/11/08 12:20 p.m.

For me, the primary thing in a review is how well did the thing being reviewed accomplish what it set out to do.

By that standard, the M3 succeeds in spades. It's a stunning piece of machinery, and the first M3 I've personally been excited about since the E30. I had my doubts about it, but they've been erased.

On the other hand, as more staffers have weighed in, the M3 is no longer a 5-star car. Just as you all have never given 5 stars to any of the new cars, at this point, neither have we.

Also, we've added fields for mileage and economy. You should see those start appearing on future new car reviews pretty soon.

And I've got another idea rattling around the old bean, but I don't want to give away too much yet.

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