We're on final approach into a tight corner, and our left index finger stretches for the minus paddle behind the 2008 BMW M3 Convertible's small, fat-rimmed steering wheel. All we want is a quick, rev-matched, 3-2 downshift from the car's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Our downshift arrives in a violent, noisy spasm, a come-on to every sport biker in the canyon. Yet it still feels like one of the most precise gearchanges we've ever been able to take credit for. It also makes the BMW M3's 4.0-liter V8 very happy. Back down in 2nd gear, the free-revving engine howls to the bikers, and even through gusts of wind and gnats, we hear it tell us how much it hates neutral throttle. If you're not working this V8, you're killing it softly.
Messy emotions are inevitable when you're driving a hardtop-convertible version of a legendary performance car, as the thrill of a sunburn on a summer day has a way of obscuring unfortunate realiti