Although most of the time we like to do our comparison tests in the UK, just occasionally (when a car is not expected to land on UK soil for some time) we go to the trouble of taking a comparison car to the launch of a new contender.

Just such an occasion came about this week. While Mr Chris Harris was flying into Frankfurt for the launch of Mercedes’ C63 AMG, I was heading southbound in a BMW M3. Talk about lucking out; three day, 1000-mile round trip, the perfect opportunity to really get to know the M3.

This car's story-so-far hasn’t run to the script BMW would have liked: slightly lukewarm reception on the international launch, slightly better reports back in the UK but still not totally convincing.

Well, having now done some serious mileage in one, I recon it’s an absolute belter. A brilliant long-distance tourer (decent mid-range torque, brilliant refinement) and some real elements of theatre (engine note on start-up, the M button, well-judged aggression in the styling) which will make it a really appealing long-term ownership proposition.

You could say, of course, that all that is very nice to have, but not the essence of an M car, and I’d agree with you. But the reason I’m an M3 convert is that it can do all these things and yet, when you really want it to, it responds.