Commute, Toy or Destroy – Battle of the BMW M3s

Commute, Toy or Destroy – Battle of the BMW M3s

We are back with this week’s installment of AutoGuide’s newest, interactive weekly feature “Commute, Toy or Destroy.”

Once again, we present to you, our faithful readers, a choice of three vehicles. We are asking you to decide which one you would make your daily driver, which one would become your Sunday cruiser or Saturday track machine and which one you would use for target practice with an assault rifle.

Remember, that commuter car you must live with every day. The toy would be only available to you for occasional use on weekends and the final car would be the one you’d put in drive at the edge of the Grand Canyon and drop a brick on the accelerator.

As usual we’re not making it easy to choose, tacking an icon amongst compact luxury sports cars, the BMW M3. We are giving you a choice of three different generations of M3, with three distinct personalities and three different cylinder counts. So, now it is up to you to decide which one you would commute in, which one would be your toy, and which one you will destroy.

1986-1992 E30 BMW M3


This is the car that started it all. Sure, there was the 2002ti before it, but the E30 was the first official M3 model. Powered by a 192 hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, this coupe was one of the best balanced, most engaging vehicles to drive of its era. And, at under 3,000 lbs, it was also fairly quick and proved a successful platform for international racing.

1995-1999 E36 BMW M3


When the second generation M3 appeared, it had gained two cylinders. Initially measuring 3.0-liters of displacement, the inline-6 engine grew to 3.2-liters by the time the E36 generation was discontinued. For those of us in North America, we sadly only received 240 hp versions of this engine while those in Europe produced 282 hp – 316 hp. To make the most of this power the M3 weighed in a hair over 3,200 lbs. and of course had amazing chassis dynamics.

2007-Present E92 BMW M3


The current M3 is a performance monster. Sure, weight has substantially gone up, but so has power. Under the hood of the M3 resides a fire breathing 4.0-liter V8 producing 414 hp. Those longing for the days when only inline-engines found a home under the hood of a M3 need to drive this vehicle as it will change their mind. Of course, the chassis is dialled-in for optimal track performance.

  • Colum Wood

    Daily drive the E92. No question. But I can’t believe I’m saying this: destroy the E36 and turn the E30 into my toy. I’d rather track the E36, but I just can’t destroy an E30.

  • Sami Haj-Assaad

    I’d have the same choice here. Commute the E92. That V8 sounds awesome, especially all the way up to 8,000 rpm. It’s intoxicating, and having that much power at the command of my right foot would help me wash away any worries. It’d be a great replacement for my daily coffee, and keep me nice and perky coming into the office.

    The E30 would be the Toy. This would be reserved for weekend, the occasional trackday, or as a personal monument to (one of) the greatest cars to come from BMW. (If I could get a 2002tii, then we’re talking)

    The E36, has a classic look and powertrain, but that just doesn’t bring it above the E92 or E30, so sadly, it has to go… (Revs up E92) Oh, I guess things aren’t so bad…

  • Colum Wood

    You’re right Sami. Living with the V8 every day would make forgetting what you did to the E36 much easier.

  • Michael Schlee

    I would say daily drive the E36, Toy the E30 and I guess destroy the E92

  • smartacus

    It’s like asking me to choose between children.

    As the only student in Rutgers Newark history to have commuted with two 1990 E30 M3’s; i’d say keep the E30 in a vault as an investment. Those things are no joke. I drove one solo from Monterey, Ca to NJ in 64 hours, and that includes, food, fuel, sleep, ticket, flat tire, and time zones.

    E92 as the toy, E46 (which was not mentioned) as the tuner, E36 unfortunately draws the short straw because it’s closer to an M330is than an M3.

    the US E36 M3, with the 5-speed and five less throttle bodies is even less of an M330is, but a 330is “INDIVIDUAL”.

  • Luis A. Martinez

    No way…..none,but a Cadillac CTS-V,Mercedes AMG (only let the W124) why this is all about,is a classic sport sedan or coupe and every other car manufacture tried hard to copy them…..Leave BMW alone and thanks!!

  • Sean Harlow

    Not even a question. Commute in the E92, toy E30, and destroy the E36. The US-spec E36 M3 is simply uninteresting, if I’m going to have an E36 I’d rather it be a lower-end model upgraded with an LSx motor. The E92 has the DCT and other niceities so you can have fun while not hating traffic any more than absolutely necessary, where the E30 needs no explanation.

  • Tony Intrieri

    I thought E92 was a type of gasoline.

  • Colum Wood

    Maybe you’re thinking of E85?

  • Luke Walker

    I would have to keep the E30 (toy) and E92 (daily) for two separate reasons: style and performance.

  • Luke Vandezande

    I would commute in the E92 for the comfort, destroy the E36 (despite it being my favorite from a style perspective), and use the E30 as my weekend toy. Why?

    The E92, like I said, would be the nicest to sit in during a traffic jam. The E30 made the M3 a household name for a reason. It’s light and would be a blast on turn-heavy courses. It will also be the simplest to tinker with by myself if I want to attempt garage work. Still daunting for me, but of the three it’s the most practical for amateur wrench turning.

    The E36 doesn’t deserve the crusher, but it’s recent enough that I would be able to cheat by turning around and buying another one. I know that’s cheating, but rules are made for breaking.

  • HoKwan Yip

    Use M3 to commute in today’s gas price = no thanks
    But it is nice to show off in public during a nice day in weekend.
    I would get a 335is for commute and toy.

  • Phillip Wager

    commute e92 sedan. destroy e36 and toy e30 but i would not modify it i would perfectly restore it.

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