BMW M3 Pure Edition

OF ALL the marketing-bullshit-soaked labels BMW hurls around – iDrive, Adaptive Drive with Dynamic Drive, Comfort Access – ‘Pure’ is by far the most meaningful for drivers.

It is, in fact, a no-BS, truth-in-naming special. An M3 sedan or coupe with all the bits purists need – 309kW V8, six-speed manual, variable M diff lock, beefy 265/35 R19 rears, carbonfibre roof on the coupe – and nothing they don’t. To the bin labelled ‘Affectation’ goes the M Drive with its total of 53 settings for steering, throttle, ESC and adaptive damping. In the M3 Pure, you get one Power button to sharpen throttle response, and another button to switch off the ESC. It’s left to M division engineers to determine the single best steering and suspension setting (not nuffies like you or I swirling a knob), which is exactly as it should be.

Since leather trim ain’t worth a thing to speed or fun, it’s been flicked for black cloth with blue-and-red stripes, allowing a cow to die another day. Other items given the toss are the alarm, adaptive headlights, CD changer, keyless go and front seat heating – no need to pass a tissue.

Okay, so I don’t exactly need 19in alloys, bonnet air vents and side gills painted in high-gloss black, or a grille surround and exhaust tip in dark chrome, yet these unique-to-Pure styling bits also make for what I reckon is the best-looking E92 M3.

The regular M3 is already a nine-out-of-10 car. After driving a lap of Tassie in an M Drive- and dual-clutch-equipped sedan (Wheels, Jan ’10) all of our test crew had superlatives gushing freely at every driver swap and lunch stop.

But after a thrash on a favourite NSW country road, the M3 Pure proved better again. There are few motoring pleasures like extending the 309kW/400Nm 4.0-litre V8 to its 8300rpm redline before slamming home the next gear. The zingy, metallic shrill of this atmo donk only coaxes the driver to push harder and go faster. My heel-and-toe and wrist-flick downshifts are mocked by the optional dual-clutch gearbox and its blink-fast shifts, but the sheer mechanicity of the six-speed manual – slightly rubbery, lightly gritty, but direct – means any warm-blooded non-PS2-bred driver will pick it every time.

At urban speeds, the steering is now much lighter – the M Drive’s two weight settings have been canned – and the Pure is all the better for it. The rack-ratio remains brilliantly quick, teaming with the M3’s pointy front-end to help it turn-in with the alacrity of a Mazda MX-5.

Only, with the M3, you’re balancing 309 kilowatts on your right foot, delivered through precise millimetres of throttle (and attitude) adjustment as the 265mm rears grip and the variable M differential shuffles torque across the rear axle.

The only thing I missed is the M Drive’s reduced-intervention ESC setting. In the Pure, the stability control is either on (and overly sensitive and intrusive) or off (you’re on your own), though the M3 is a communicative, safe partner at the limit.

Unlike, say, Porsche, BMW doesn’t charge more for less. At $131,700 (sedan) or $145,000 (coupe), the Pure limbos a full $10K under the standard M3. Only 50 units are available of each bodystyle, though as we went to press, BMW informed us that M Drive is no longer standard on M3 sedan and coupe; it’s now a $3500 option. So you’ll still be able to score an M3 for purists – minus the special-edition marketing tag.

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