Depreciation Station: 2008-'13 BMW M3

How can anyone turn down a V8, especially one fitted with four cams that howls like a demon from hell and delivers a ground-shattering knockout punch? Meet the BMW M3.

The BMW M3 had always been a balanced, well-behaved machine, but it wasn’t exactly a fire-breathing monster– until the E92-chassis version rolled onto the scene for the 2008 model year. Where past M3s had relied on four- and then six-cylinder power, the new car went whole hog with a V8.

And not just any V8. We’re talking about one with four cams, 32 valves, an aluminum block and heads, variable cam control, and one throttle body per cylinder. Redline was a staggering 8300 rpm. Total output? How about a cool, comfortable 414 horsepower in U.S. guise?

The V8 didn’t add any weight to the nose of the car, either. In fact, BMW says that the V8 undercut the previous inline-six by about 33 pounds.

Compared to the standard-issue BMW 3 Series, the M3 also received the requisite stiffer suspension, flared fenders, limited-slip differential, lightweight bumpers, and a carbon-fiber roof–the latter a first for a production vehicle. The aluminum hood received a giant bulge that was hard to miss, too. Inside, the M3 received a steering wheel that could only be described with one word: perfect.

This new M3 was certainly quick–it could scat to 60 in less than 5 seconds–but the real kicker came when it was tooling about. Despite the amazing performance potential, the M3 was a kitten in town. The clutch wasn’t unwieldy, and outward visibility was good in all directions. Those high-bolstered seats weren’t hard to get into or out of, and adequate truck space came standard.

All of that goodness had a price, too. Most M3 customers handed over about $60,000–figure a few bucks more if they went with the four-door sedan or folding hardtop convertible models soon added to the lineup. Today, though, cars start at about half that figure, with some advertised for less than $30,000.

If there was a downside to all of this, it was the timing. The E92-chassis M3 came out just before the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing spike in gas prices. The EPA’s updated fuel economy numbers for the car show 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway–and premium gasoline is required. BMW’s new M4–call it the M3’s spiritual successor– checks in at 17/26 while making a pinch more power from less displacement. Credit turbocharging for the help.

Today, you’re not going to find a 2007-’13 BMW M3 for sale on every corner, but it’s still an amazing driver’s car that has depreciated to family-car money. Here’s one more reason to want one: It will most likely be the last V8-powered BMW M3 ever offered.

Care and Feeding

UUC Motorwerks has been offering aftermarket upgrades to the BMW community for years. Arjun Soundararajan, the company’s CEO offered us some buying tips for this particular model.

All M motors from BMW— including the V8 found in this car—are well-built and will last as long as oil change and maintenance schedules are adhered to. The onboard iDrive system will actually warn you when you are due for maintenance based on how the car is driven. But you will still want to check maintenance records to confirm the work has been done, and with the correct materials.

When test-driving, listen for creaks and groans. That normally indicates a higher wear rate depending on the mileage of the car.

This M3 could use better brakes in front as it has a single piston-floating caliper. Upgrades you may come across like stainless steel lines or bigger calipers are a plus.

As a buyer, you don’t really need to be overly picky with these cars. All the cars that we have seen—both automatic and manual—have not had any serious issues.

UUC Motorwerks
(678) 679-5360

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View comments on the CMS forums
Desert 2009
Desert 2009 New Reader
1/18/19 3:39 p.m.

No real issues except rod bearings....

t44tq New Reader
1/23/19 12:08 p.m.

Not just rod bearings, throttle actuators and rear subframe cracking.

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