Used BMW M3 Coupe 2000 - 2006 review

Category: Sports car

You're buying a strong combination of awesome performance and day-to-day practicality

BMW M3 Coupe (01 - 07)
  • BMW M3 Coupe (01 - 07)
  • BMW M3 Coupe (01 - 07)
Used BMW M3 Coupe 2000 - 2006 review
Star rating

What's the used BMW M3 coupe like?

The BMW M3 is a focused driving machine with thrilling performance and fantastic handling. Yet you can use it every day, even if you have kids.

At its heart is a brilliant 3.2-litre straight-six engine, from which BMW has wrung 338bhp. The acceleration will amaze you, with no let-up all the way to the 155mph limiter, but at the same time the engine is flexible enough to just pootle around in traffic.


You're buying a strong combination of awesome performance and day-to-day practicality

  • You get thrilling performance, amazing handling
  • a strong image and practicality
  • Running costs are high - but they're worth it for the sheer thrills

While the ride is firm around town, we reckon it's a small price to pay for the more forgiving ride and sublime handling you can enjoy on faster roads.

There's plenty of road and engine noise, but that's not necessarily a bad thing: the straight six engine sounds fantastic when it's worked hard.

Inside, the M3 is clearly a 3 Series, but the bespoke dials, steering wheel and sports seats give an inkling of the car's capabilities. And, as in the standard 3 Series Coupe, there's space for four adults, although rear headroom is restricted, and you get a decent-sized boot.

Ownership cost

What used BMW M3 coupe will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a BMW M3 coupe?

You're getting a day-to-day car that can challenge Porsches and the like, so be prepared to pay for the privilege, especially if you plan to take it on tyre-shredding track days. That 338bhp engine translates into expensive insurance, and claimed fuel economy is 21mpg at best.

Maintenance isn't cheap, either. Figures from Warranty Direct indicate that BMW main-dealer labour rates are over 35% more expensive than average. However, find a decent independent specialist, and you should pay around half of what you would at a franchised garage.

Warranty Direct's research also indicates that the M3's reliability is a little below par, and average repair bills are not small. While servicing costs can be upwards of 30% higher than for any other 3 Series, the M3 can still be less expensive to maintain than its sports car rivals.

Our recommendations

Which used BMW M3 coupe should I buy?

The M3 comes fully loaded with kit – from stability and traction technology to big alloys, air-con and six airbags. However, we'd avoid the larger 19-inch alloys - they may look good, but they do nothing for the ride quality.

In addition to the standard precise six-speed manual, BMW also offered an SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) paddle-shift auto. It's effective but brutal, so unless you do lots of track days, stick with the manual.

In 2003 came the limited-edition 360bhp M3 CSL. It is even more focused than the standard car: more powerful and lighter, and with bigger brakes, sharper steering and more. The CS arrived in 2005, matching many of the CSL's parts to the M3's standard 338bhp engine.

The classifieds will have plenty of M3s, and there are many more in BMW's network and with specialist dealers, but get an independent inspection before you think about signing a cheque.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used BMW M3 coupe?