Available in coupe or cabriolet form, the BMW M3 continues almost unchanged into 2005; a Competition Package of tuned suspension, 19-inch forged wheels and high-performance tires becomes available.

Using a naturally-aspirated 3.2-litre inline six-cylinder, BMW manages to wring 333 horses out of the M3, supplying it with the necessary suspension, steering and brakes that will measure up to it. A six-speed manual transmission is the stock choice, but a $4,900 paddle-shift sequential manual gearbox (SMG) can be added.

Other M-specific items include Driving Dynamics Control for throttle response, variable valve timing, sport suspension calibration, and variable differential lock. The throttle is fully electronic drive-by-wire. Exterior M styling cues include unique bumpers, mirrors, door sill plates and rear trunk lid spoiler.

The coupe’s features include 18-inch wheels, four ventilated disc brakes, automatic headlamps, speed-sensitive wipers with rain sensor, Bi-Xenon headlamps with high-pressure washers, heated windshield washer jets and door locks, self-charging keyless remote, automatic air conditioning, auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, sunroof, heated M-specific sport seats with electric adjust and memory, electric rear vent windows, and CD player with twelve speakers including two subwoofers.

The cabriolet adds an electrically-operated soft top with heated glass window, Nappa leather interior, one-button lowering and raising of all windows, and a CD player with eleven speakers including one subwoofer.

With its beefed-up suspension, and a wider track than the regular 330 models, the M3 provides a ride that’s fast and firm, but never unpleasant. The Competition Package ups the ante again, allowing enthusiasts the ability to take to the racetrack right out of the showroom. The convertible exhibits some cowl shake; naturally, the coupe is much tighter, but on a sunny day with an open road, it’s more than a fair trade-off. The all-new Audi S4 Cabriolet may prove a worthy rival, though, with a 340 hp V8, Quattro all-wheel-drive and a price tag that’s $2,600 less.

The M3 is built in Germany.

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