Our man had fun with the new M3 on an empty circuit – but wonders how many owners will do the same.
Three and a half stars. An unremarkable seven out of 10. A satisfactory if unspectacular result. I’m talking about the driving for the picture on the cover of this magazine and at the top of this page, by the way. “Can you get a dramatic picture of the M3?” the art department asked. So we had a go.
Cue Blyton Park Driving Centre and a third-gear left-hander. Bung it in; get on the power; the diff hooks up; around comes the rear; the very talented Olgun Kordal pictures it.
But then BMW ruthlessly scores my efforts down to the nearest half star. For the new M3 has an M Drift Analyser, so that if you’ve turned off the stability control, you find yourself on a private road or test track with a decent corner and you give a car ‘the full send’ and get it to oversteer, the car will tell you how well it thinks you’ve done it.
Which is three and a half stars out of the traditional five in this case. It lasted for 4.1sec and 111 yards and had a 16.4deg angle of ‘sidewaysness’.
Great. Thanks. Not only do cars now advise you on staying in your lane or whether you should take a break after a few hours, but my BMW is even a critic on my circuit driving.
I mean, alright mate, there’s a star-and-a-half improvement still to get, but I’d had a 5am alarm call, it was only my second attempt of the day and the car was running into the limiter at the top end of third gear. Plus I’m somewhat out of practice, what with one thing and another preventing too many track visits lately, so it all felt hairier than normal. So cut me a bit of slack, yeah?
Pah. Still, you know what they say about critics. Theodore Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.” And then he continued, at some length, in what makes for quite uncomfortable reading for someone whose living is largely made from writing about other people’s work.
Channing Pollock, meanwhile, said that “a critic is a legless man who teaches other people to run”.
Thanks, fellas. I tell myself it’s consumer journalism. Somebody has to be there to hold diesel scandalisers to account; find out if Mercedes-Benz A-Classes will fall over; or if a Suzuki Celerio brake pedal isn’t strong enough. And whether a new M3 will go sideways controllably. Which it will, albeit apparently not spectacularly if I’m driving it.