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HomeCAR REVIEWSBMW E36 M3 An Enthusiast’s Machine

BMW E36 M3 An Enthusiast’s Machine

The E36 M3 is the second iteration of BMW’s 3 series lineup; right after the E30 M3, which was also an amazing machine, a hooligan of sorts, but the E36 comes in a league of its own. The second gen M3 came out in the early 90s (1992 to be exact), and was available just as a two door coupe until 1994, where BMW introduced a convertible and a four door version, later the same year. The M3 came in two variants, a North American and a European version respectively, where the European counterpart was better and had more horsepower

The fun bits, EU edition

The E36 M3 initially came with a naturally aspirated 3.0L inline-6 engine paired with a 5 speed gearbox, the engine uses the same cast iron block but, it comes with two cylinders more than the previous generation. The S50B30 on the European version sports 282 horsepower, almost a hundred horsepower per liter, with upgrades such as hand built throttle bodies, double VANOS variable valve timing technology, lighter pistons, larger inlet valves and a newly developed MSS50 ECU. On the North American corner, their M3 got none of the upgrades of the European version. Instead, they got a souped up version of the stock S50 engine from the non M E36.

After 1995, the M3 got a new refreshed S50B32 engine which was the same engine with higher compression ratio paired with an upgraded 6 speed gearbox, which increased the horsepower to 321 breaking the 100 horsepower per liter barrier. The North American M3 also received an update under the hood but it still was underwhelming compared to the European version.

Interior; the bare minimum

Jump in the E36 M3, and you will immediately notice how simple things were compared to cars today. It has no digital screens, you get a radio though, and that’s about it. Rest is made for the driver. The seats on the M3 are upgraded to sportier bucket seats with supportive leather bolsters which are not excessively tight, leaving room for a comfortable drive. There is no fancy leather or heating on the steering wheel; plain, straight business in being responsive, paired with the specially designed suspension setup, the M3 handles corners, bumps and hurdles with ease.


The E36 M3 is a well capable car made for driving pleasure in mind. Although purists say that the E36 M3 is not a true successor to the E30, partly because it did not have FIA Group A homologations, the E36 variant has a league of its own.

It’s nimble, fairly easy to maintain, and being an old German car which are known notoriously for being a mechanic’s fixing affair, the M3 overall delivers an experience that enthusiasts generally praise.

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