2008 Euro Delivery M3 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- My wife and I recently returned from Germany where we took delivery of our 2008 M3. At the request of several members, I will document some of the particulars of the trip and our thoughts. I'll try to keep these comments focused on the actual BMW delivery experience, so please forgive my omission of restaurant reviews, etc. We arrived in Munich via Delta Airlines and stayed downtown near the Marienplatz -- a place our dealer highly recommended visiting. Personally, we didn't find it all that impressive. The Glockenspiel being a big glorified cuckoo clock with hundreds of tourists staring at it, waiting for it to go "bong." Still, we took in many of the Munich sights, but as it was our first day there, we were totally exhausted. We advise giving yourself a full day to acclimate before taking delivery of your car. We almost opted for a 2:00 p.m. slot the day we arrived, and we are very glad we didn't. We would have been zombies, and no one wants to go through that experience half asleep. The next morning we hopped in a cab to the Welt. We had an 8:40 a.m. appointment, which was ideal. The Welt opens at 7:30 a.m., so we arrived at 7:40 a.m. in order to have a few minutes to look around. We were met at the front door by a greeter and a porter, who stored our luggage for us. The greeter checked us in and escorted us through the massive Welt. Being early morning, the place was empty and somehow seemed even bigger. With nothing but our footsteps echoing though the huge hall, we passed X6 displays, the hydrogen powered 7 Series and the BMW Formula One car, among many other well-known vehicles. It felt like a museum, and the new cars seemed even more celebrity-like in the eerily silent setting. Later on the place would be buzzing with hundreds of tourists chatting and cameras flashing, but early in the morning and almost empty, it felt like our own private showroom. The entire Welt is done in a sort of metallic pewter, and the ceiling must soar 100 feet or more into the air. Jutting out from its glass and steel walls are all manner of stairways, balconies, cantilevered restaurants, private conference rooms, lounges and gift shops. It is a spectacular space. We were escorted to a private bank of elevators that whisked us to the client registration center. Upon our arrival and a short wait a representative checked our passports and issued to us our vehicle insurance, temporary European registration, etc. After being processed with typical German efficiency, we were shown to the client lounge, where we had a light breakfast, read USA Today, checked our email and marveled at the room design, with the windows looking our over the four cylinder headquarters building. A few other families came in behind us and whispered amongst themselves as we all waited. A bank of three flat screen TVs announces your appointment time and the name of your BMW representative. We were met by Matthias promptly at 8:40 a.m. and taken to the client experience. This consists mainly of a briefing on the BMW brand, with which I was more than familiar. Interestingly, a fair amount of time is taken to explain the Hofmeister Kink and several other BMW design cues on a state-of-the-art projection touch screen computer table. Sort of distractingly trendy, but still cool. We were then asked to partake in a driving simulation, where anti-lock brakes and DSC were demonstrated on a video game-like console. Quite entry level stuff for an enthusiast willing to travel all the way to Germany to pick up a car, but still well done. Finally came the moment for which we had waited over a year. Matthias took us to the atrium and began walking us down the grand staircase when a set of halogen lights lit up and a turntable began to rotate. On it sat my beautiful new M3. As the car slowly spun, Matthias said nothing. He let us just soak up the moment, and it was very effective. (My photos of this experience are in the Gallery section of the BMWCCA Website). We walked down the stairs and Matthias spent the next 45 minutes taking me through every system on the car, with special attention to the iDrive, and answering every one of my many detailed and specific questions. These people are well trained. A photographer appeared and took our photo, and at the end of his presentation our processed photo was ready for us. Matthias finally handed me the key fob, and I smiled when nearly every tourist head in the Welt turned when I started the engine. Press the ignition button and this V8 makes a statement! We then slowly drove down the carpeted corkscrew ramp and out the front of The Welt. It was MINE! We drove around the block and stopped for 98 octane gas (CAUTION: DO NOT LOOK AT THE GAS BILL!) and parked in the Welt ramp so we could take our tour of the plant. The Munich plant tour is worth taking if for nothing but the robots. They are simply mesmerizing. They seem to have personalities, and I see where Pixar gets its inspiration. Still, two hours is a long time to pretend to pay attention to a tour guide after having driven your new car three whole miles. At this point I was dying to get on the road. In fact, you may want to schedule delivery after your tour. I think watching them build the car would just add to the anticipation. We also visited the gift shop, but we were a little under whelmed, as it contained nothing you haven't already seen in a BMW catalog. We simply purchased an iPod adapter cord (NOTE: Do not let your dealer tell you it will be in the car at delivery!!), grabbed a quick snack in one of the cafes and we were finally on our way. The new M3 did not disappoint. It is incredibly powerful (even under 5,500 rpm and 110 mph where I was forced to limit my adventures for the first 2,000 miles), and it makes AMAZING sounds. Nothing like the straight six. It growls at ignition, which slowly turns to a howl up to 5,500 rpm. Beyond that is still a mystery to me. I am awaiting delivery. The torque is impressive but not head jerkingly so. The gas mileage ain't great but acceptable (18-20 mpg), and the M-Drive feature is fantastic. One touch of a steering wheel button and you change the personality of the car (throttle response, shock damping and steering response) from a street cruiser to a road racer. An important note about iDrive: The iDrive is much easier to operate than I had been led to believe. What a relief. After reading years of awful reviews, I can only surmise that most automotive writers are grumpy old men who have no experience with a PDA or are just too stubborn to try something new. Sure it took a few miles and a few false starts to figure out some of the systems, but within the first two days I had 90 percent of it mastered. Someone needs to write about this. iDrive is getting an unfair bad rap. And wow, what control you now have. Things you never dreamed of personalizing, or that only your dealer could adjust, are now all at your fingertips. The iPod interface is good, but maybe not the industry best. I can't find anything specific to complain about, but for some reason it doesn't have the same intuitive personality of the Audi or even the Infiniti system. The $1,900 premium audio system is a huge improvement from the pathetic Harmon-Kardon system in the E46 M3, but still nowhere near the industry standard. Fortunately, the best sound system under $70,000 comes right out of the M3's quad tailpipes. Driving a German sports car that has been for sale in Germany for over a year, I didn't have high hopes for impressing the locals. But holy cow, was I wrong! Everywhere we went people stared, pointed and even took pictures. When we arrived at our hotel in Koln, the valet quickly ushered the M3 into a high profile spot near the front door alongside a Ferrari F430 and a McLaren SLR. I was way out of my league, but happy for the attention nonetheless. This didn't change when we got to France. Stares and pointing everywhere we went - even in the parking lot at the Formula One race at Magny Cours. In 12 days we put 1,822 miles on the M3. At about 1,400 miles, I had an oil light illuminate. Matthias had told us that since we had anticipated putting less than 2,000 miles on the car, we should plan on the first service being completed by our Atlanta dealer once the car arrives stateside. He said he could arrange for this service in France, but it would take a half day of our holiday, and it would not be necessary under 2,000 miles. I was extremely careful not to exceed 5,500 rpm or 110 mph during the trip. Yes, this included the Nurburgring and the Autobahn. And yes, I was passed by Rabbits and Golfs. I am now enduring the agony of the 8-10 weeks before local delivery. But I have lots of photos, and I know what's coming: The best value per dollar in the sports car market and many, many miles of driving bliss.