My M3W has arrived.
Having never seen one in the flesh, never mind driven one it was with some trepidation I drove to the dealer on Saturday. I was especially nervous about the colour choice. Here is my review:
The M3W sits squat and both wider and longer than I thought. It is difficult to take it all in and your eye is drawn to so many shapes and features. Be without doubt, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts with the overall impression being one of disbelief at the sheer impractical extravagance but aesthetic elegance.
The front is a dazzle of chrome and a spaghetti of cables and pipes. This frontal assault is then beautifully contrasted with simple, elegant lines as the side body tapers, torpedo-like through to the beetle back. A sense of length is added by the long exhausts riding shotgun.
Snug and feeling surprisingly protected, the cockpit is well, if not exceptionally, finished. Instruments feel solid with the exception of the steering-wheel and column fascia particularly out-of-place and needing an upgrade. The steering wheel is still removable but frankly does not need to be as access is satisfactory.
Quick debrief from the dealer with a couple of words of warning! Turn the key, lift the starter cover and press the Tornado button. You knew that the serene calm of the front forecourt was to be compromised but OMG....... sensory cacophony ensues with the orchestra only tuning up 10-20s later into a ratatatat.
Snick into first gear and remember how to slip the handbrake out of the ratchet. Cannot stall on the first drive, so I give the engine a bit more throttle and dare to release the clutch. Whoaaaa. It eases away more smoothly than ever envisaged. Up through the gears and the new bevel box leaves only the slightest of bronchial wheeze from the transmission.
Suspension is well-sprung but that preposterous lump of spluttering horsepower at the front leaves you shaking, rattling and rolling at low speeds. Neural networks long dormant in this lexus era are awoken and struggle to make sense of it.
Go up through the gears too quickly and the engine grunts disapprovingly; too slowly and you feel that you might take off. Torque is good and I doubt many owners will be requiring more power. Steering responsiveness is good but the turning circle is agricultural. Given that the nearside wheel has an invisible cloak, you find yourself peering over the offside to locate the middle of the road. You do not drive the M3W; you aim it.
The footwell is cramped with the pedals close. The clutch is a little tight but that is nothing compared to the brake. Needs a good press but answers the call very efficiently. Turning off the indicator switch and releasing the handbrake are intelligence tests that I have needed a couple of days to master.
But where does this all leave you and the M3W. Perhaps the response from pedestrians and bypassers is the measure. As you travel, people are genuinely delighted to see such a machine. Smiles abound but none bigger than yours.
A countercultural icon is born.
Life is Better by the Sea