You see it in sport, you see it in art and I’m sure you see it with cars. People, or the objects they create, only being truly, fully appreciated retrospectively. Sometimes a sportsperson makes winning look too easy or they are so dominant that people lose interest (Loeb, Schumacher). Sometimes someone is unlucky enough to be competing in the same era as someone even better, so their own remarkable talent doesn’t get the praise it deserves (several pros playing golf between about 1997 and 2014). Sometimes people are creatively too far ahead of the curve for the public to appreciate (Van Gogh). Sometimes cars are seen as too expensive at the time, even though later people can’t get enough of them as their genre-defining qualities become clear (original BMW M5).
Now, I’m fairly sure that this wasn’t the first feature that most of you turned to in this issue. Understandable. These are saloons not svelte sportscars and both look very familiar (even if the Mercedes is a new facelift). What’s more they look slightly bereft without a BMW in their midst. An M3 is the benchmark and regardless of its eventual position on the podium it’s somehow the reference around which the other smallish sporty saloons orbit. They are destined to live in the class the M3 has defined and, as a result, often reside in its shadow.