If I was in a point A to B race, and someone gave me the choice of any stock production car under $200k, the GTR would be my second choice after the 911 turbo S. It is a phenomenally capable vehicle, and at big power levels, the AWD gives a huge advantage to be able to really push the car with an added element of safety and control.
I drove a GTR on 3 separate occasions when car shopping in 2011. I still chose my M3. A lot depends on what you want out of the car. All too often, people think just about the car, not about how it will really be used.
So, if you want the fastest point A to B tool, then the GTR has few equals that are not true supercars.
Subjectively, however, it is an entirely different story.
My M3 is a proper manual. No matter what, DCT technology still does quirky things, especially at lower speeds. You still can't finesse the subtle engine-driver-transmission interfaces like you can with a proper manual. I very much enjoy this aspect of my M3, and the GTR can't give me this. Of course, the design objective of the GTR has to do with pure objective performance, so a DCT is the obvious choice.
The interior design of the GTR looks very piecemeal. It's almost as is if someone wanted to deliberately create the look of a rice rocket with semi-randomly placed parts, instead of a seamless and clean look. Since most of what you look at when you drive is in fact your interior, the interior design was very important to me.
The ride on the GTR is simply too harsh for a street vehicle. Great for the track, but my M3 is street driven 99% of the time. The suspension on the M3 is a flawless ride-handling balance. I wanted a car that was agile, but my M3 sees a fair amount of highway drives, so I need a degree of long distance comfort as well.
The GTR make a lot of unpleasant noises. The clunkiness of the transmission, the piss-poor exhaust, the excessive turbo whine, makes for a completely unsatisfying auditory experience. By comparison, look at the Audi S6. Here you have another AWD, dual clutch, turbo motor car, and yet the unpleasant sounds are hushed, and the exhaust sound is killer. Once again, however, there is no consideration of anything subjective in the GTR. None of these things do anything to objectively improve performance, so it is not considered in the GTR design. The M3's sounds, on the other hand, has me leaving the radio off nearly 50% of the time.
Exterior looks are obviously subjective, but the GTR has conflicting design elements IMO. There is no aesthetic consideration. Look at the new C7 Vette. One can have sharp creases and still make a good looking car. The M3 is, to my eyes, a gorgeous design. Clean, and subtlely muscular. Powerful looking, yet not in your face.
The steering feels more precise on the M3, although this is in part to the inherent loss in steering feel that can come with AWD.
The disconnected feeling of the GTR is more a result of it's supremely high capabilities. It won't feel disconnected at all going around a turn at 120mph, but at street driven speeds, it provides little feedback enjoyment. The M3 on the other hand, satisfies at all speeds.
So....in the end, it really depends what you want. If you want the baddest thing on the road that will win virtually every stoplight drag and that will let almost anyone turn super-fast track times, then a GTR is it. However if you want a more sophisticated and refined experience, and one that is more satisfying on the street, then the M3 is it.
Audi S6 * Audi S3 * Porsche Cayman GTS
--Former BMW M3 owner
Last edited by LarThaL; 02-04-2013 at 10:02 AM.