Many owners, reviewers, enthusiasts and even weekend motorsport aficionados say the last-generation BMW M3 is one of the ultimate sports cars of the modern era.


Though a huge price tag and relative exclusivity meant the M3 wasn’t always an easily-attainable car, the last-generation model is now becoming a popular and more affordable used car buy than ever.


The last complete M3 generation was on sale to us Canadians from 2001 to 2006 inclusive. All models were rear-drive, two-doors offered in coupe or convertible body styles. The model launched with a 3.2 litre straight-six engine with 333 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft of torque.


Yee haw.


A six-speed stick was standard, and a six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) was added to the options list later in this generation’s life.

The SMG transmission effectively automated the manual unit, putting two shifting modes at the driver’s disposal.

The SMG was a high-tech toy enjoyed by many owners -- though it was often considered harsh, clumsy and abrupt. Unproven reliability and a complex computer system will likely increase repair costs should the SMG require repair.

Those who prefer a stick-shift are advised to stick to their guns.

Other hardware included automatic climate control, a Harmon Kardon audio system, powered and heated leather seats, a self-dimming rearview mirror and a set of automatic xenon headlamps.

What owners like
Performance, prestige, exclusivity, brand reputation and styling all rate highly amongst last-generation M3 owners.

What owners hate
Common M3 complaints include a harsh ride on some surfaces, excessive fuel consumption and limited space and practicality.

Common issues
Numerous M3 models produced between early 2001 and mid 2003 were recalled for a bearing and lubrication problem that could cause engine failure. As such, avoid earlier models where possible.

Check the condition of consumable parts like tires, brakes and the clutch. A pre-purchase inspection by a BMW-trained technician can reveal a potentially expensive problem the seller may be trying to hide

The specs

  • MODEL 2001 to 2006 BMW M3

  • VEHICLE TYPE Coupe or convertible

  • APPROXIMATE?USED?PRICE?RANGE $17,500 to $27,000