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The new BMW kidney grille, present on many models, but most notably the 2021 BMW M3 and M4, is divisive, to say the least. Some of you, like me, might think it’s a bit much. If that’s the case, fear not. There’s plenty of other excellent BMW sports cars to choose from instead.

The E92 BMW M3 is defined by its engine, not its grille | SavageGeese

Some of these may even be more engaging, fulfilling cars to drive owing to their lower power outputs and manual transmissions. Plus, they’ll be a lot cheaper than a brand new M car.

How much is the 2021 BMW M3

A pair of BMW M3 and M4 sports cars sporting the iconic BMW kidney grille at their debut in China, shot from the front 1/4 angle
The BMW kidney grille on full display in China | VCG via Getty Images

And a 2021 BMW M3 costs a whole lot of money. The M3 is a 503 hp, $70,000 car by the time you put anything other than the non-standard paint on it. Please do, because the Isle of Man green is fantastic to look at. Cool paint aside, that’s big money to buy a brand new M car that not everyone is sold on.

From a dynamic standpoint, the new car handles beautifully, and you can get a manual transmission. That’s a rarity nowadays, as you well know. However, many people cannot get past that new BMW kidney grille. It’s a lot to look at, and it sure isn’t for everyone. If the BMW kidney grille isn’t for you, there’s a lot of M car for less money that can scratch your M itch.

An E92 generation BMW M3 ditches the big BMW kidney grille

A silver E92 generation BMW M3 shot in the shadows from the front 3/4
The E92 M3 got a very special 400 hp V8 engine | Jeff J Mitchel via Getty Images

First, the E92 generation BMW M3. Note the small BMW kidney grille. While it is larger than that on the previous generation E46 M3, the car more than makes up for it. Headline figures are promising, with either a dual-clutch automatic or a good ol’ 6-speed available. That transmission is mated to an engine that makes 414 hp and revs to 8,500 RPM.

If that’s not enough to make you forget about the new BMW kidney grille, I don’t know what is. If it isn’t, the price difference sure will. Should you be scared of one with miles, a super-clean one will run you around $50,000-$60,000. That’s still a lot less than a new one, and those Uber-clean ones are optioned out with things like a carbon roof.

An E46 M3 is a classic sports car choice at a bargain price

A silver E46 BMW M3 shot from the front 3/4 in the studio
The E46 BMW M3 has seen a spike in values, but some can still be found for under $30,000 | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

However, if that’s not your thing, maybe the 333 hp E46 M3 is. Don’t worry about that “low” power number. As Motor1 points out, it’s still more than enough.They’ll be a touch less than the E92, sitting somehwere around $50,000 for a super nice one. Again, it’s automatic or manual transmissions, but the auto in this one is a real lemon, and you’ll want a 6-speed. Either car is a fantastic alternative to the new M3 from a bygone era, with both being lighter, more engaging, and a lot better to look at (for some) than the new BMW M3.


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