BMW’s continuing series about the history of the M3 has now reached its third chapter, with the spotlight now being placed squarely on the third-generation model, the E46 M3. Launched in 2000, the E46 M3 continued the tradition laid down by one of its predecessors, specifically the first-generation E30. Whereas the second-gen E36 was more of an understated model, the third-generation E46 M3 returned to the performance purity that the first-gen E30 was known for.

Suffice it to say, BMW put a lot of work on the model to differentiate it from the first two versions. From the technical side to the development side, the E46 M3 introduced a lot of new concepts that a lot of BMW’s M models continue to use to this day. That, in a nutshell, is the legacy of the E46. It wasn’t the first M3 to roll out of the block, but as far as leaving a lasting imprint on the name, it still stands as one of the most important performance models BMW has ever built.

The popularity of the E46 M3 was evident from the get-go. In the course of its seven-year life, BMW built 85,744 units of the model, easily eclipsing the 71,242 units of the E36 M3. The BMW M3 is arguably the most popular performance model BMW has ever created and the E46 M3 has a lot to do with that.

It’s been gone for 10 years now, but the legacy it started continues to this day. I can’t imagine a higher praise to be given to a car.

BMW M46 M3

2000 BMW E46 M3 review
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Read our full review on the BMW E46 M3 here.

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