Like many people, we love the M3. Its reputation and accolades are well deserved, and when we drove it through the fall leaves of Utah it became one of the rare cars both guys gave Four Stars.

Now that the E90 series M3 is headed out of production, we wanted to pair it with two other cars claiming to be even more fun than the M3.  Thanks to the generosity of our viewers and fans, we were able to round up a Boss 302 and a BMW 1M to give the M3 a real challenge. We even had another fan loan us a brand new E90 M3 to remind us just how much we liked the big German benchmark.

After a long day of fun canyon carving and breathless arguments, the guys came away with some conclusions and a whole lot of smiles.

Here’s the full comparison, uncut, and commercial free.

Enjoy, and we’d love to hear what you think!

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Which car would you take? Is there another all-around car you would take over the M3? Tells us your thoughts below!

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15 Responses to “Boss 302 and BMW 1M – M3 Fighters”

  1. Nico says:

    Great reviews guys!

    While I would love to play with some German-manufactured toys, money dictates that I am “stuck” with good ol’ American muscle.

    It’s great to see that Ford (and Chevy with their 1LE and upcoming Z28) have really closed the gap in terms of performance, while still maintaining the muscle car persona.

    One happy V6 Camaro owner here!

  2. Todd says:

    Yes, Chuck, it’s a tragedy that BMW made so few 1Ms…. but if they make a new one (as rumored) then that will finally bring the prices out of the stars.

    To your question: While we didn’t really let price sway us in this comparison, it would be a definite factor if it were our own money on the table. For 60k (aprox used 1M price) the truth is I wouldn’t get a 1M, I’d get a new Cayman. But among these cars the much lower price of the M3 and Boss make them a more realistic choice than the 1M, even though I think the 1M is the more enjoyable drivers car.

  3. Todd says:

    Great question, Craig! Of these three cars, the M3 is the best year-round-bad-weather friend. As you said, the Boss is best in the dry. The 1M is very tail happy to begin with and plenty of torque to break the tires loose… a bad snow/ice combo but very fun otherwise.

    On maintenance… the BMW are going to cost more to maintain. The Mustang isn’t as nice to begin with but will likely be at least as reliable as the Ms and cost far less when something goes wrong. Whatever you pick, you have to pay to play… meaning, fun cars just cost more to own than boring ones. But we find it a price worth paying!

  4. Todd says:

    Hey Martin, We would say the new Boxster. Amazing car, better balanced than both the 1M and M3. Plus a lot lighter on its feet than the M3. Plus… if you already like convertibles, you’re running out of reasons against the Boxster.

  5. Chuck says:

    Wonderful review guys. Wish the 1M wasn’t so pricey in the used market. Given that, would you still choose the 1M as your first choice? Given that it costs almost 40-50% more then a used M3 or Boss 302 (according to your data)?

    Why didn’t BMW keep making M1′s!

  6. Martin says:

    So, I have an SLK32 AMG, which I love, the last year of the original design. I like drop-tops because although it changes the dynamics some, I believe you can get a good blend of performance with the free feeling of top-down motoring. Eventually I’ll sell it off and get something newer. I love the 1M, but it has no convertible, the M3 is also a good option —-OR the latest Boxster. Has anyone driven all three that can comment? Of the three I’ve only driven the Boxster.

  7. Craig says:

    Just wondering how all 3 handle year round=rain, snow, ice and even parking in a grass field for a MTB race, etc.
    I would think the ground clearance is very little on all and driving across all the speed bumps around here would be a disaster.
    I assume the Boss is the worst for all around driving due to the ancient suspension. I had a 302 and it was horrible in the rain and snow. Fun in the dry though.
    Is the overall quality of the build and construction even close on the 3 cars? Cost to own, maintain, etc.? I assume the M3 is the best quality 2nd place the 1M and 3rd the Boss 302 and would it be a distant 3rd or is there a bigger difference in quality between the M3 and 1M?

  8. Craig says:

    I enjoyed it.

  9. Todd says:

    Thanks Bill, Congrats on a simply great car that we obviously love as well. We’re really thankful you like what we do. Lots more on the way!

  10. Todd says:

    Thanks Bryan! We are slowly redoing all our graphics etc – constantly working to make the show better. We appreciate your feedback and being a fan!

  11. Bill Carter says:

    Excellent!

    I have an E90 M3 and feel incredibly lucky everytime I push the start button.

    Someone the other day asked me if I had any amount of money to spend on a car, what would I buy. I thought about it for a minute, and then said, “I’ve already bought the best car on the planet, so…”

    That person thought I was crazy, so I took them for a little ride. Only then did they understand how incredible the E90 M3 really is at pretty much everything (except petrol mileage ;-)).

    Fantastic review of all three cars, lads.

    Looking forward to more.

    Cheers

    Bill

  12. Bryan says:

    I’m really digging the new format with the specs. Very subtle and elegant. High quality production. Cheers!

  13. Todd says:

    Hey Peakay, thanks for watching and commenting!!

    Keep in mind that the stock 1M and stock M3 share many of the same suspension components, wheels, etc. The biggest factors, as you mentioned, are the differences in chassis – especially the weight difference. While we have no doubt that an M3 can be made to feel like a 1M or better, it would involve some sacrifice in the areas that make the M3 such a great all-around. Stripping 300+ pounds of weight and altering the suspension feel would likely make an M3 more focused but less versatile.

  14. peakay says:

    ps – my current car is a poor-man’s 4-door E90 M3: A Dinan-tuned E39 540i/6.

  15. peakay says:

    Hey guys, great review!

    I’m wondering if you think the M3 could be given some of the character of the 1M through suspension modifications (perhaps its softened since its a volume car) or if the 1M’s inherently smaller/lighter size is just too much smaller of a chassis to emulate?

    I’d love to have the 1M, but I simply need more back seat room and 4 doors. A livelier 4-door M3 would be everything in one package.

    I’ve test-driven a 128i sport and know what you mean about how “rotatable” and active it feels and have driven a student’s E90 m3 for a short while on track. Your assessment seems spot on, but I wonder if….

    Anyone with a modded E90 M3 care to comment?

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