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Mercedes-Benz has its AMG performance arm and BMW has its M performance arm, and the two have been going head-to-head for many years now. The M3 began as a means to an end, as BMW manufactured 5,000 examples in 1986 to afford itself homologation into the World Touring Car Championship. It quickly became a cult classic and its success continues into 2013.
The 2013 model year brings no changes for the M3 lineup, which includes a base model and convertible. Both models come standard with a monstrous 4.0-liter V-8 engine that rips out 414 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque. The engine mates to a standard six-speed manual transmission that delivers the power to the rear end. This combination nets the base model a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds and the heavier convertible version a 60 mph sprint of 4.8 seconds.
The base model M3 is very well-equipped with things like 18-inch staggered wheels, compound brake system and premium audio system. The convertible carries the same trimmings, but adds its own flair with an exclusive interior color and power seats. The convertible also packs quite a premium, as it adds more than $8,000 to the M’s base price. On top of the two trims there are three optional packages.
The Competition Package – only available on the base model – includes Dynamic Damper Control, 10 mm lower suspension and upgraded 19-inch wheels. The Premium Package adds in things like park distance control, voice command, power-folding mirrors, power rear sunshade, navigation, universal garage door opener, and more. The Cold Weather Package adds in retractable headlight washers, heated front seats, ski bag (base model only) and through-loading system with integrated transport bag (convertible only).
Competition is scarce but intense for the M3, as fellow luxury car manufacturers duke it out for performance superiority. We’ll start with the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe, which features a 451-horsepower, V-8 engine, a seven-speed automated manual transmission and a 4.2-second sprint to 60 mph. The 2013 Cadillac CTS-V adds some American flavoring with its 556-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine, six-speed manual or no-cost six-speed automatic transmission and 4.2-second 0-to-60 time. The 2013 Audi RS 5 is the final competitor with its 4.2-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 444 horsepower, 4.4-second sprint to 60 mph and seven-speed automated manual transmission.
The base-level for the 2013 M3 is unlike most other base-model coupes, as it is a perfect balance of luxury and sport that is rarely achieved. On the outside, its sporty nature is realized through M suspension system, speed-sensitive steering and four-wheel ventilated and cross-drilled compound disc brakes. A set of 18-by-8.5-inch wheel grace the front end and 18-by-9.5-inch rims are on the backside, helping keep the M3 planted to the asphalt. Inside the cabin, the M3 pampers you with anthracite and black cloth-leather upholstery, M sport seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with HD Radio and iPod interface.
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Massive power, super-fast and tons of luxury, but no convertible option and slightly more money
Insanely powerful, outrageously appointed with luxury and 4.2 seconds to 60 mph, but more expensive not as refined
Slightly quicker to 60 mph and stylish body, but very expensive and lacks that BMW pedigree
Great base price, awesome mpg and sleek body, but lacks power, 5.7 seconds to 60 mph and not as classy