I’ve got a thing for cars. Here’s my history.
2011 Subaru WRX (2011 - 2018)
The WRX was my first really special car. Spartan interior and a pretty terrible manual feel, but she laughed at snow, looked and sounded great, struck a nice balance between sporty and comfort, and was a terrific family car that was still a lot of fun. I miss it every single time it snows.
2018 BMW M240i (2018 - 2022)
I fell in love with the E46 BMW M3 in the mid-2000s but was a long way from being able to afford one. In 2018 I finally was in a position where I was comfortable to start looking into a entry level sporty BMW. This was nearly an M2 (and might one day be replaced by one) but I ended up opting for the more toned down, comfortable, and substantially more affordable M240i.
This one is manual and RWD, and specced with the M performance exhaust which adds some really nice but not overwhelming crackle when you lift off the throttle even at low rpms. The manual has a dramatically better feel than my Subaru, and a much nicer although fairly basic interior. It was a huge jump in driving enjoyment and yet still remains a decent family car, we can still pile our son and dog into the back and use this for most any outing.
This was a very nice car, relatively fun, very smooth and comfortable when you want it to be. The B58 engine in these and a number of other BMWs is shaping up to be a real gem, smooth and potent, tunable, and extremely reliable. It was however far too quiet even with the M performance exhaust, and not terribly exciting. It never really got under my skin, which led me to the next entry on this list.
2016 BMW M3 (2022 - present)
My 15 year journey to an M3 came to fruition in early 2022. I’ve searched for used M cars every few months for a very long time and this example popped up about 3 hours away. It only had 40k km’s on it, and appeared to be in great condition, no rust and unmodified. It was however a DCT, and giving up my manual was a tough call. I truly have no idea how long cars like this will be made. I don’t entirely love the direction they’re going with the latest M3, and this is by far the best looking generation IMO, so I decided to go for it.
The experience vs my M240i is pretty stark, I was looking for something that was more of an event to drive, and I found it with this M3. It sounds and drives drastically more aggressive, it’s glued to the road in ways I never felt in the 2 series.
The car is slightly less comfortable than the M240i and thankfully much louder, but still fine for long journeys, and the four doors are coming in really handy with our son getting bigger. Also loaded with a lot of tech I skipped on the M240i, which was a mistake in hindsight because I love that stuff.
Just have to hope it stays reliable. All my research indicates this generation and the S55 engine are extremely reliable, my main concern is small electronic failures that add up over time. We’ll see how it goes though.