The world gave a unanimous sob this week as the final BMW E92 M3, pictured above, rolled off BMW’s assembly line in Regensburg, Germany. The above vehicle, wearing the stunning “Fire Orange” paint scheme, is a relic of a bygone era during which high-revving, naturally-aspirated engines captivated BMW customers. Fast forward five years, and the auto world wants “downsizing and turbocharging” even in their performance cars, prompting BMW to add a turbo straight-six to a new M coupe set to debut this fall.
But as we mourn the loss of an old friend, we should also appreciate the twenty years of M innovation that created the E92 M3. Starting with the E30 in 1992, each successive M3 model tried to outdo its predecessor, creating an upward spiral of performance and handling that culminated in the E92. What it represents for the brand and for M enthusiasts and speed addicts worldwide is sure to make it a desirable collector car in the near future.
The E92’s performance is undeniable – its 4.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V8 churned out a whopping 414 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque to rocket the car from 0-60 in around 4.5 seconds. BMW offered customers the option of either a 6-speed manual or a blazingly fast 7-speed DCT in the vehicle, the latter of which maximized performance by eliminating driver clutch input. However, BMW wasn’t finished – for those who wanted to extract even more performance out of their M3s, BMW offered the Competition Package, giving customers a lower ride height, more aggressively-tuned electronic suspension, and a reworked stability control system. And of course, Competition Package-equipped M3s received the stunning 19-inch forged alloy wheels characteristic of the E92.
Despite its massive performance, the E92 didn’t completely ignore passenger comfort. Though not a bonafide luxury car, the M3 offered a full-grain leather interior (with M-specific embossing and contrast stitching to abound), power adjustable M sport seats, and a tolerable ride for the everyday commute. Navigation, heated seats, and other creature comforts came at an additional cost, but who needed those with the music of the screaming V8 filling the cabin?
Amazingly, approximately 40,000 E92 M3s have been produced worldwide since 2007, many of which have been sold in North America. However, the US and Canada only received approximately 7,000 of these examples, with a near 50:50 split between those equipped with the DCT and those equipped with the manual transmission. It seems likely that the DCT-equipped E92s, with their added performance and higher MSRP, will be the North American examples collectors seek most in the future. Those collectors looking for immensely rare M3s, however, will find that only 293 6-speed E92 were sold to the rest of the world after the life cycle refresh in 2011. Another rare example is the E90 M3, the practical sedan version of the M3 that saw about two-thirds of the E92’s production in North America. These foreign-spec E92s and US-spec E90s are sure to garner huge numbers at auctions in the future.
To further the M3’s appeal, BMW announced the production of the M3 GTS in 2009, an even more performance-oriented E92 that could reach 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, thanks to its upgraded 4.0-liter V8. Only 250 examples of the GTS were ever produced, with each example’s MSRP exceeding $150,000. Other special-edition M3s followed, including the carbon fiber-laden Lime Rock Park edition with a limited production run (200 units) but an unlimited top speed (187 mph). Either of these extremely limited E92 editions will set M enthusiasts salivating, and it is these models that help to solidify the E92 M3 as a true modern collectible.
The Bottom Line
As BMW slowly morphs from a performance to a luxury-oriented brand, reminders of where the brand has been, such as the E92 M3, are a welcome sight for any auto enthusiast. The rush of the M3’s unadulterated torque paired with its visceral exhaust note is enough to make anyone fall in love with the car, and it is this appeal that will continue to captivate collectors for years to come. All hail the E92 M3, the ultimate modern collectible!
Please enjoy this TFLcar video of the M3’s more developed brother, the 2013 M6.