There is a point during the life cycle of most things; A career, TV show, sports team, or even someone’s life; When you realize that the best days were in the past, there will never be another “best day.” After Season 4 of Game of Thrones, there hasn’t been an episode that has outdone the rest. Fleetwood Mac won’t make another album to top Rumors. And BMW may not make another M3 that outperforms everything before it.
The new BMW M3 – the G80 generation – is said to be excellent (we need more time behind the wheel to determine if this is true or not). Is it the best it has ever been? We can’t say for sure but that’s unlikely. It’s not impossible, and maybe one day we’ll look at it and consider it the best, but that’s unlikely. Not when cars like the E46 M3 and E30 M3 stand out as special machines. What made me a little sad today, though, was the realization that there might not be another M3 ever topping these cars.
Among BMW fans, there is some debate about the best M3. Is it the original E30 M3, with its high-powered sports engine or is it the E46 M3, with near-perfect handling balance and perfect styling? How about a screaming E92 M3 with a V8 engine? Whichever M3 you think is the best, there is a good chance that it will continue to be the best for the rest of the time.
After this generation of the M3, the popular BMW M will likely switch to a hybrid powertrain, if not all-electric. After that, it’s sure to be fully electric.
Don’t let that discourage you, driving electric vehicles can be great. But could a BMW M3 hybrid/EV lead in the thrill; mechanical connection between man and machine; Who are the best M3s of the past? I’m not sure it’s possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I love electric vehicles. I want my next car to be an EV, if I can find one I like/can afford. However, electric vehicles have their place in the world, and providing the visceral, fast, and primitive thrills offered by previous gasoline-powered M3s, they are not.
Is this a guarantee? of course not. Can BMW M develop a totally electric M3 that’s ripped apart, and delivers the kinds of driving thrills that we as car enthusiasts desire? naturally. But is this possible? I’m afraid not. Younger generations care less about cars over time, preferring independence and relaxation over fun and excitement. For the younger generations, cars are a means of transportation and nothing else.
That’s not their fault and I’m not saying that we, as car enthusiasts of our generations, are better or wiser. But we’re a dying breed regardless, and car companies are still businesses. Last time I checked, companies don’t make products for dying breeds. They look to the future, trying to predict what people want ten, twenty, thirty years from now. They don’t care what dinosaurs like us think about manual transmissions and natural traction engines. They care about what customers think and want tomorrow, and what they think and want is not the same as what we think and want.
For this reason, it is very likely that if BMW M decides to continue making M3s after the G80, they will be electrified, highly autonomous, and designed to be more performance cars than sports-appropriate machines.
I guess what I’m saying, if I say anything at all, is that the BMW M3 has already reached its peak. If you have the ability to look at the entire M3 strain, Dr. Strange-style; past, present and future; Its peak will probably be somewhere between 1987 and 2021. That makes me a little sad and a little happy. Sad we’ll never get an E46 M3 again; Something that blows our collective minds and resets what we know about driving machines. But it also makes me happy because whenever that last moment happened, I was there for it.