The latest M car has arrived: the F90 BMW M5, a 592-bhp autobahn monster that can also be a docile cruiser. But even with more power and more everything, can it stack up to the best of Bavaria, sans manual transmission? Here we list, in our biased opinions, the 10 best BMW M cars ever built.
The first in the list is, erm, the first BMW M car to be named with a capital M. But it’s not here because it’s the first. It is simply awesome. From the body designed by Giugairo, to the chassis made with the help of Lamborghini; the inline-6 engine BMW is so good at and that the only transmission was a 5-speed manual. It didn’t matter that it only made 273-bhp. It was plenty then. But just look at it. Can you go through a top 10 BMW list without it?
- 1M Coupe
Because of the cult following of the M1, BMW daren’t name this 1-series coupe the new M1. Especially if it doesn’t have the old car’s sex appeal. It looks pudgy but don’t let that fool you. The wide stance, short wheelbase, and a plenty-for-its-size 340 hp twin-turbo inline-6 gave it a charm only the gargoyles at Notre Dame have. It was a hoot to drive.
- M2 Coupe
Compared to its predecessor above, the M2 is much more handsome. Its dimensions are also virtually the same as the E36 M3 Coupe, making it the right size M car with the “small chassis, big engine” ethos the new M3/M4 left. It also handles rather nicely compared to its big brothers making it a steal for its price.
- E30 M3
1988 BMW M3 EvolutionA sprightly 2.3-litre inline-4 making 193-bhp in a car as light, as athletic, and as sloppy as Manny Pacquiao; organic steering, a five-speed manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive. A recipe for a sure hit. Can it ever be improved upon? Well, you see, it was the first M3 and the answer to the question lies in number…
- E46 M3
The third-generation M3 has all it needs and none that it doesn’t. BIg inline-6 engine producing 340-bhp without turbos? Check. A manual six-speed? Check. Comfort? Well, so long as you don’t go for the CS, check! iDrive? Electric Steering? Adaptive Suspension? Fake engine sounds that come through the speakers? Heck NO!
- E39 M5
The. Best. BMW. Saloon. Ever. Bar none.
- E61 M5 Touring
The successor of the E39 M5. It had a screaming V10 with 507-bhp and a boot that can fit all the animals mentioned in Noah’s Ark. If there was such a thing as a practical BMW M-car this will be it. That and a rev limit of 8,250 rpm.
- E63 M6
It is the follow up to the first M6 killed in 1989. It had the same 507-bhp V10 the E61 M5 has but in a more voluptuous body and less practicality. It is big. Bentley big. But like all BMW’s, it handled like it was much smaller, going toe to toe with a Porsche 911 Carrera (997). This might be a list of BMW’s but for the M6’s admission price, I would much rather have a Maserati Gran Turismo Stradale or a Jaguar XKR just because they’re prettier.
- M Coupe Breadvan
This minuscule car is like caviar. It does not appeal to everyone. Actually, let me change that: It is a chihuahua with a rottweiler’s heart. It produced 317-hp from the S52 inline-6 and is promised to deliver your pizza in 10 minutes or its free. It was marketed as a shooting brake and no, I don’t know what that means, either.
- Z4M Coupe
A proper M Coupe/Hatch that was just as sublime as the Breadvan. Powering it is a 338bhp S54 inline-6 from the E46 M3. Try to digest that for a moment. The E46 is already a fast car. If you shoehorn its engine in a much smaller car then it is almost certain that you’ll be in a straitjacket after you’ve driven it. It is genius and bonkers at the same time and it will make you crazy.
The E36 M3 Saloon is a lesson in what a BMW M car should be. A naturally aspirated engine, a bruiser and a cruiser at the same time despite having a fixed suspension tune, hydraulic steering and looks that make it almost impossible to detect amongst ‘normal’ BMW cars. And oh, did we mention we’re biased? What other BMW M-cars do you think should be on this list? Comment away.
all images from netcarshow.com