Representing the last of the naturally aspirated M cars, the BMW E92 M3 and its muscular engine and elegant looks are what made it a brilliant M car. Here’s what you need to know before buying one in our quick-fire buyer’s guide. Sponsored by Adrian Flux.
Why you want a BMW E92 M3
The last of something is usually pretty special and so it is with the E9x M3, which has the honour of being BMW’s last naturally aspirated M car, powered by the company’s last naturally aspirated M engine, and what an engine it is. The S65 V8 revs to over 8000rpm, making 420hp in the process and is accompanied by an absolutely awesome soundtrack. It is wrapped up in a muscular body with a fantastic chassis underneath and delivers an absolutely thrilling driving experience – this is a car that will never fail to put a smile on your face. It might be a little bigger and a little softer than its predecessor, but it’s still a true M3 through and through and an absolutely awesome machine.
What to pay
E9x M3 prices have been tumbling in recent years and whether or not they’ve bottomed out just yet is anyone’s guess, but they certainly seem to stabilising and there are some real bargains out there. The cheapest cars start at around the £13,000-mark and at this price we found a manual coupé and a DCT convertible, both with just over 100,000 miles; at around £15,000 mileages drop and the selection of cars increases – we spotted a manual convertible with 55,000 miles at this price along with a manual saloon and coupé, both with slightly under 100k miles. As you start getting closer to the £20k-mark you start finding later cars with better spec and LCI cars appear around this price point as do Competition Pack-equipped cars. Over £20,000 is where you’ll find Edition and LE500 models and we even spotted an extremely rare Performance Edition up for £40,000.
What to look out for on the BMW E92 M3
The E9x is a very well-built car and that means, general wear and tear aside, there’s really not too much to worry about as far as the base car is concerned. The S65 has two main weak spots: the electronic throttle actuators and the rod bearings. The actuators can last up to around 60k miles or so (there is no mileage-specific failure point) and you can get them repaired for around £500 with a lifetime guarantee while the rod bearings will set you back around £1000-1500. There’s really no way to tell if they’re worn as oil sample analysis has shown to be unreliable – the general consensus is to get them changed at around the 70k-mile mark for long-term peace of mind. There have recently been some reports of injectors sticking open and causing engine failures so that’s also something to be aware of. DCT is so far proving to be reliable – sump gaskets can leak but that’s about all that goes wrong.
If you’ve got EDC and want to keep it, Eibach Pro-Kit springs are the lowering spring of choice or you can opt for KW’s Height-Adjustable Spring kit; you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to coilovers, with something for every budget, and a few will even let you retain EDC functionality. The brakes come in for criticism and while they’re okay on the road they wilt quickly on track – good performance pads and hoses will be a worthwhile purchase, and a big brake kit is definitely worth it if you’ve got the cash and are going to be upping the performance. The best drop-in air filter is considered to come from BMC, while Evolve’s Eventuri intake makes impressive power gains. There are also several carbon plenums on the market that don’t make any more power but do sound awesome; PSDesigns also offers a velocity stack kit, which the company runs on its own E90 M3 demo car, and it sounds incredible and delivers impressive performance gains. The primary cats are the most restrictive part of the exhaust system so either gut them or fit a pair of test pipes in their place, which deliver a little more power and noise. The S65 loves a supercharger – there are numerous offerings available from companies like ESS, VF Engineering and GP infinitas. The cheapest kit comes from GP infinitas and will set you back around £4000 for 500hp while its 600hp offering is about £8000; ESS kits start at £8000 for the 625 kit, the 650 is £9400 while the new G1 kit is £9300. VF Engineering kits, meanwhile, start at around £7000 for the 540hp version rising to just under £10,000 for the 650 kit. Alternatively, you could go for Harrop’s positive displacement blower – it makes around 550hp with massive mid-range torque and costs around £10,000.
The E9x M3 might be a slightly softer proposition than its predecessor but it’s all relative and this is still a seriously full-on performance machine. The S65 is an awesome engine and makes this generation of M3 something truly special. The whole driving experience is simply sensational and while the engine needs to be revved, doing so is never a chore. There are a couple of big-ticket items to be aware of but, overall, this model is proving to be reliable. As the last naturally aspirated M3, the E9x is a fitting swansong and a superb and seriously exciting car.
Insuring a BMW E92 M3 with Adrian Flux
Car: BMW E92 M3
Driver and info: 28-year-old male, with a full NCB, living in the TN14 post code, with a clean licence. The car is parked on the drive each night and has light modifications including wheels, suspension, exhaust and air filter.
Quote: £500 including insurance premium tax / £350 excess / Comprehensive cover
Tech Spec: BMW E92 M3
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 S65B40
Transmission: Six-speed manual, seven-speed M DCT
Torque: 295lb ft
0-62mph: 4.8 (DCT 4.6) seconds
Price New: £50,625 (Coupé)