The M coupe is a little known number that BMW had no plans to produce until after a group of skunkworks engineers, craving a stiffer chassis, slapped a roof on an M roadster, and barely convinced them was good for the company's performance image. As such, while the basic design, borrowed from its better known roadster stablemate, was obviously the result of many hours from an artistic team exhausting their creative juice supply, there are elements of the coupe that look a bit off, or not quite cohesive. That is because these parts were not from a designer, but from engineers working on a labor of love - to create something for the driving enthusiast that they themselves were.
So it literally is a fusion of work from two completely different teams, from different fields of expertise, at different times, for two unrelated purposes, and with no communication between them.
I was a fan of the M3, and kind of thought I'd like to get one, but didn't really get around to doing so. Then, one random day, I discovered pictures of the M coupe, long out of production by that time, and knew I had to own it. I lusted after them for a year or two before finding my perfect example to buy on the used market. I still am inspired by the car each time I see it peek out while the door of the garage opens, or walking to it in a parking lot, and, of course, when I steal one last look before walking away.
Ahhh, how the car looks. Whether you're a fan of the design and "get it," an owner despite the looks, or one of the large number of people who don't like it at all, there is one thing that can be agreed on by all - it certainly is bold. Other widely believed true descriptions include; aggressive, silly, over-the-top, gorgeous, hideous, mean, and the best looking butt featured on a BMW. Whether you think it looks like the Batmobile, or a clown's shoe, there is something else that can be agreed apon by any and all that look at one - it certainly does inspire some kind of emotion... Good or bad.
In a day and age where it seems most cars are reaching a state of appearance making it hard to distinguish between different brands, or even market segments, the M coupe has a way of making it unable to be mistaken for what it truly is - unique. A lot like nothing else, as BMW marketeers once phrased it. And, with produced models being so few, makes the rare sighting of one in the wild an event for most.
I personally love the design. Everything about it is appealing to me. I openly and proudly admit that, to me, there is not a car on this planet which causes my heart to ache from adoration more than the M coupe. Yes- I am telling you that I believe it is the best looking car ever made. There are plenty of pretty cars, but this is my muse.
From the curvature of its hips and the way that flows along a line which leads along the slightly rounded door leads all the way to, going over slightly less dramatic front arches, the aggressively styled frontend. Staring at the vehicle from the front, one see a car that screams sporty... Or one may see a goofy-looking bat's face. The hatchback, or shootingbrake, design isn't particularly well received by a large portion of the American populace, but fans fans of the design should find it pleasant to find it on a proper driver's car - find another RWD 3-door sports car produced in the past 15 years, I dare you. My favorite angle to view it from is about 3-4 feet from the ground, and about quarter of a full circle around the car, starting from behind. This is allows one to see the gorgeous back end of the car, with its glorious hatch, the ridiculous flared haunches, and see the magnificent curve of the waistline.
Whether you love or hate it; want to marry it or destroy every last one; tip the engineers ( after all, they put the roof on the roadster model, and not the design team of the original Z3,) or get revenge on them for hurting your eyeballs with ugliness, there is one thing you have to admit the first generation of BMW's M coupes possesses, and that is a unique and unmistakenable character. Which I think most car enthusiasts will agree is preferable to the bland, lowest common denominator designs that most modern cars are boiling down to.
Metallic, lighter paint helps the curves pop the best, in my opinion.
- if it's used as a daily driver, some might prefer something that causes less attention
- the crease on the center of the hood can make the entire front end look twisted toward you when seen from about six feet off ground from certain angles
- the US market version featured two bulbs on either side of the rear license plate to house lighting since federal regulations required two lights. Some may prefer the single light housed on the bumper that the EU market received. It also had a chrome strip over the center lock, which, due to the plate height being greater here, was relocated to the right side of the hatch in the US.
- the OEM finish of the later cars had Roadstar wheels with a different finish, called Shadow Chrome, that some found to not age well over the years. Ie, flaking, color distortions, etc.
As a person who wants cars of any type to have their own character, and a fan of this car's design, it is hard for me to fault it on much, if anything, when speaking about it in terms of appearance. I know that many limitations from the design of the car inhibit some other unrelated aspects of the overall pack, but I don't find them to be aesthetically displeasing, and will leave them out of this review. I will bring them up in reviews pertaining to where it does cause the car some issues.