I am lazy and I dont feel like writing the same stuff over and over again to very similar threads so here is my response to another thread that I believe applies here.
The E36 M3 and the E46 M3 both debuted to initial journalistic reviews that critisized both steering and brakes. Yet as time went by the car gets showered with awards and distinctions like one of Autocars 10 best drivers cars for 2007. I think automobile magazine said it best. I quote: "It happens every time a new BMW M3 is unveiled. Journalists write long reviews complaining that the new M3 is fatter, less involving, and less focused than its predecessor. Then, a few months later, those very same scribes shower that very same car with an endless stream of awards, giving outrageous titles like "Best Motorized Conveyance of All Time"."
-Think Car and Drivers article on the E36 M3 calling it the "Best Handling Car in America".
Automobile Magazine goes on to really break it down. In my opinion this is really getting down to the grit of the emotions that many of us our feeling.
"There is, however, an entire generation of automotive journalists-those of us who spent years falling alseep looking at posters of the E30 M3 on our walls-who cant help but hope that one day, there will be another "real" M3. And its beginning to look like there never will be. So each time we drive a new M3 for the first time, we mourn a little. We complain a little. And then we admit to ourselves that the new one, like each M3 before it, is the best sedan-based sports car of its time. Stealing the crown from the Audi RS4, the 2008 M3 is no exception to that rule."
Swamp, I have been around while. I have been a member of Bimmerforums since 2001 and a member of DTMpower.net even longer. I remember what it was like to own an E36 M3 back in 2001 when we were all watching the new E46 M3. I remember what us E36 owners said about the E46. If your curious what it was like check out M3forums.com and go to the E92 M3 section.
I will be honest and say that I didnt want the E46 M3 to be better. I wanted to see the M division fall on its face. I wanted my E36 M3 to go down in history as the last real M3. It was great in those days to talk about how fat, curvy, and overweight the E46 M3 was. But we all know the E46 M3 had no problems earning respect. I am not foolish enough to believe that history isnt going to repeat itself this time. I am not going to be the grumbling critic this time because I guess I know better. Besides, not every review is as critical of the brakes and steering as some are. Autocar may call the steering numb but they still give the distinction of being a great drivers car. So how numb can it really be. Num compared to what? The E30 M3 maybe, a 997 GT3?
And finally swamp, I leave you with this
Direct from Autocar
"Those with long memories will recall that the 1993 3.0-litre M3, the successor to the great original, was lambasted for being too soft and in possession of poor steering."
-So if this is how Autocar and other journalists felt about the E36 M3, then how can it go on to get titles like "Best Handling Car in America"? How can you and I possibly love driving our little E36's around when Autocar makes statements like this? Food for thought I guess.
I will add this and I have said this before and stand by it. Audi and Merc are getting good reviews because this is simply the first time either company has gotten a sports car right. Cars like the R8 have no hype to live up to. The RS4 is merely a generation improvement on a very imperfect model line.
Honestly I dont know why Audi is not critisized for having to basically make a new model line in order to compete head to head with the M3. I mean what happened to the normal S4 and M3 shoot outs. In my opinion I think Audi has pulled the wool over everyones eyes and the journalists are falling for it. I feel like I am taking crazy pills. At 50K base price Audi's direct competition for the M3 should be the S5. Yet people compare the S5 to the 335i, a car that is 10K less???
M3 will remain the best all around sports car/GT for the money. In the end isnt that what the M division has always accomplished.
So in short NO the M division hasnt dropped the ball.....