A mostly complete guide on purchasing the Ultimate Driving Machine. Don't Panic.
The story's original article can be found here.
What is this, and why do I need one?
This, dear readers, is BMW's ode to induction noise, lateral-Gs and tire smoke. It's your high-school sweetheart frozen in time, before they had a chance to gain 35 pounds and pursue that career in door-to-door knife sales. It's a capable daily driver, weekend toy and track harlot rolled into one timeless, (mostly) analog package.
Underneath its bulging hood lay the final form of BMW's race-derived naturally aspirated inline-6 S54 engine, making 333 horsepower, winding out to over 8000 rpm, with a torque curve flatter than a tone-deaf American Idol contestant. It gets from a stop to 60 MPH in less time than it took you to read this sentence. Here's everything you need to know about this astonishing platform.
There are two gearbox options: The manual 6-speed, and the SMG 6-speed. Let's cut to the chase - you want the manual. The SMG trips over its untied shoelaces when in traffic, and although it can be quite fun when approaching the speed limit, its affinity for eating clutches on hard launches and its inability to keep the SMG pump working for a prolonged time make it something to skip completely.
There were also two body options: The coupe and convertible. I'll save you some time here again - you want the coupe. Not only is the convertible less flowing aesthetically, it's heavier and not as rigid as its slim coupe sister.
Pictured: This is like putting a Wonderbra on Kate Upton. She definitely doesn't need it, and the end result is arguably worse than when you started.
The interior isn't spartan, but it's not something that would be considered fully loaded by BMW's standards. The base interior is dyed leatherette material covering a mildly-bolstered sports seat. Above that, there's a Nappa heated leather option with matching door panels and interior accents in colors ranging from "Mom paid for this" black to "More than you can afford, pal" burnt orange.
After 2004, the ZCP Competition Package was introduced, which gave the interior a bit of the european CSL flair, including alcantara steering wheel accents, shift knob, and gave the chassis upgraded steering, braking, and a upgraded 19" wheels all around. In my mind, this was BMW's way of making up for the neutered E36 M3 . I guess it's a start.