This year's BMW M3 convertible may be the most seductive ragtop ever made.
Author Mike Guy
THERE ARE SUNNY DAYS, and then there are sunny days in L.A. The light here— golden and chock-full of good vibes—is best experienced in a convertible. A fast one. With a great sound system. Something like the 2010 BMW M3, a class leader with impeccable lines and a very rowdy inner life.
The Bimmer is a car with movie star good looks, but its real talent lies under the hood, where it hides a highly immodest turbo-charged 4.0-liter V-8 that churns out 414 horsepower and 295 foot pounds of torque—enough to pin you to the expertly crafted seat and keep you there in a warm embrace. The setup includes a nav system that gives you several route options and integrates real-time traffic reports— critical information in the stop-and-go world of L.A. driving. Could this be the ultimate SoCal ride? Over the course of a day spent darting from Beverly Hills to a backyard barbecue in Silverlake to a Fatburger in West Hollywood and along some of the most beloved canyon roads in the world, I aim to find out.
Alas, the M3 has the mileage of a bygone time (16 mpg combined), so I start off at dawn with an injection of karma at a power-yoga class on the beach in Santa Monica. Afterward I sip water from a coconut, open the hard-top roof, climb down into the low-slung cockpit and push the “engine start” button. The V-8 roars to life. I parade past a long line of parked Priuses on Main Street, and heads turn. The M3 is a vision of beauty with the growl of a guard dog and the grace of a yogi.
As I pick my way across town, through West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the warm air dries the perspiration in my hair. Eventually I guide the M3 onto the I-10 to Topanga Canyon and find one of the sweetest strips of tarmac ever laid: Mulholland Drive. With the majestic sun setting over the Pacific, I rocket into winding blind curves and drops in elevation. The wide tires hoover the asphalt in the turns. The brakes are 14-inch dinner platters. The air is rich with eucalyptus and lavender blossoms—the whole canyon smells like an ayurvedic spa— and as I stop at the intersection of the Pacific Coast Highway, a Beach Boys song comes on the radio. Brian Wilson is singing about his little deuce coupe; he thinks that “if I had a set of wings man I know she could fly.” I know exactly what he means. Los Angeles never felt so good.