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Sunny Side Up

This year's BMW M3 convertible may be the most seductive ragtop ever made.

Author Mike Guy

Image – Transtock

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.

One Response to “Sunny Side Up”

  1. Robert Says:
    June 25th, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    M3 V8 engine does not have a turbo charger.

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