When the heart and the head disagree, how do you decide where to splash your cash?
In an odd way I have Chris Harris – motoring writer, internet talker and friend of Drive Cult – to thank for getting the keys to the M3. Twice.
Firstly, thanks to his massive generosity in loaning Marty his GT3 for our trip to the Nürburgring 24h last year (a drive that Marty wrote about here, and has never really gotten over), Mart then offered me the M3 for what would turn out to be a thousand-mile test drive.
Then Chris bought his 911 RS 4.0 and the Internets were vocal in their unfounded views on what he should do with his own money. Chris responded saying that he was making sacrifices to have the car he wanted. For some reason that stuck with me.
Some would say buying an M3 when petrol prices are at an all-time high, financial times uncertain, and used car prices are plummeting would be foolish, and I suppose they’d be right. As long-time readers will know, I’ve had a 1.6 Ford Focus for many years, and it’s relatively cheap to run, insure and service. It’s the sort of expenditure that you just forget about, and you just hope this year’s service doesn’t turn up anything major. As I’ve said before, it’s not a car you’ll have an epic drive through the Alps in, or leave others in awe of your track pace - you’d cook the brakes in 3 laps of any circuit you’d care to mention. What it lacks, though, is excitement and involvement. The 100,000 miles of road driving and £50 a corner rubber it sat on blunted the responses, and left it increasingly utilitarian.
The M3 is costing me more money, and I will have to make some sacrifices to keep up with the thirst for Tesco 99 and V-Power that it burns on the daily commute. I’m also expecting a few trips to specialists for both servicing and a few minor upgrades I’d like to try. Nothing major, but I certainly think it’s time to refresh a few bushings and mounts, and try a set of the spectacular Michelin Super Sports when the current Contis get down to the wear bars. They’re pretty meaty though, so it may be a while.
On the drive back home from collecting the car, it became apparently how certain aspects have been left behind by the modern world. Forget hooking up an iPod, the nav screen hides a tape slot (which could have been mini-disc if a different option had been ticked!) and the CD autochanger in the boot contains only music CDs, none of this new-fangled MP3 nonsense. The sat-nav also doesn’t know anything built after 2006 exists. Even more amusing is the TV. Yes, it has the TV option, but as more regions have their analogue TV switched off, it becomes increasingly obsolete.
It’s an interesting analogy in a world of DSG, DSC, ESP, active ride, and everything else that's crammed into a GT-R. The bits that are technological and fancy in the M3 are slowly all becoming redundant, while the engine, transmission and chassis shine as examples of engineering. No modes, no options, no settings (bar the DSC that is either on or off with a button push), just a machine designed and set up to deliver an M Division experience.
Really do miss an iPod hook-up though. That’s going to be the first thing to get sorted.