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Ok, so I just tried my hand at an Interlagos Blue M3 and while it is pretty damn special, it isn’t a better street car than the 335 (at least up at my ~5,500 ft altitude). The power is terrific (think scalded big cat), but the torque delivery and, to a certain extent, the sound could be better (don’t forget though that I am A) spoiled and B) fresh from the Aston DBS (which didn’t have any power delivery or sound issues)). It is one honey of a power plant though (IIRC it is built in the same production facility as BMW’s Formula 1 motors), with a terrifically high redline, I’d love a crack at it down at sea level with some fatter air, but I think the ~18% power penalty it is paying at my altitude is taking the edge off of it. This motor doesn’t have the raspy hard-edged urgency that the S54 has and that’s ever so slightly a bummer. It does, on the other hand, imbue the car with an effortless sense of power and ability to build speed at a pretty sick rate (read: yes Virginia, it is pretty sutpid fast), which is clearly a very good thing, just not something that I’m used to after driving so many e46 M3s and S54 "Z cars." It will take a little getting used to.



Brakes are S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R. I don’t know about fade resistance and all and they can’t live up to the carbon ceramics that were on the DBS from a fade perspective, but the M3’s units provided for immediate stopping with great initial-bite, good modulation and pretty terrific pedal feel (rivaling Porsche’s pedal feel). The best seats this side of a set of Recaros and nice short-throw shifter too. At 6’2” all I can see of the hood is the power BULGE (they should have had a cut-out for a shaker, or perhaps a bug-catcher, instead. Now that woulda been hott). Sans bulge and the hood would drop away almost completely for a practically unfettered view of the road. Nice fenders all around too. I will say that the front fascia is kinda goofy lookin'. All-in though, a very, very nice piece. This one is a bit of stripper (cloth seats, etc.) as it clocks in at just over $61k.



I’d say that absent a dedicated track toy (say perhaps a Lotus), this is about as good of an “enduro” as you can get at the moment. I think the better option is dedicated track toy with a Benzo C63 for street use (or 335 if you don’t want to spend M / AMG money after buying that track toy). If you’re trying to decide between M3 vs. C63 and you’re going to do anything more serious than casual club events or low / mid level HPDE, you gotta go M3.



My verdict so far (I won’t get a chance to drive it on a track. Hell, I may not even get a chance to drive it on dry roads) is that it legitimately qualifies as “weapons grade.”

Here are some pics...
 

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Have you drive the coupe? what's the comparison with the coupe if you have driven it? also it looks like it doesn't have sun/moon roof?
 

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shay2nak
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thanks for the write up and pics. I was pleasantly surprised that the base for the 4 door is 53500 after hearing 65000 all over the place. I think I'm going to end up getting a base M3 sedan over C63 in 2 years.

That 4L V8 is basically the motor in the E46 M3 GTR that was banned in ALMS in 2001.


also it looks like it doesn't have sun/moon roof?
yeah it doesn't have the sunroof. Also, if you want the sunroof on the coupe, it's possible but you won't get the carbon roof. The neighborhood dealer has a jet black M3 coupe with sunroof. It'd be nice to get the carbon roof with the sedan.
 

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The new M3 engine is a V8 derivative of the S85 V10, not the S62 V8 derived engine that was used in M3GTR before it was outlawed. Changes to emission laws in various global markets necessitated the retirement of the S62 in 2003, bringing and end to the E39 M5 and E52 Z8.

As an aside on the roof, I had an opportunity to preview the M3 in at M in Garsching this past summer. In the presentation room they had several demonstrations on the various technologies employed by M on the standard BMW line. To demonstrate the difference in carbon vs. aluminum, they had two buckets filled with raw stock of each material, in amounts necessary to make some part (which I forget). While I'm fairly familiar with the difference in carbon based components, it was interesting to hold both buckets and "feel" the weight difference.

All in all, I believe the carbon roof is just under 10lbs savings on the coupe. Unfortunately, M's weight saving efforts could not overcome the bloat of the standard 3 series, as the new M3 (in coupe form) weighs nearly as much as two Elises. However, it is truly phenomenal that new V8 weighs less than the outgoing S54 I6.
 

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Steering feel?
I haven't driven an M3, but I have a 335i with the Sport Package so I would assume they're similar. In a word: Don't expect Lotus levels of steering feel. It's better than most, but it's not Lotus good. I'm sure Lotus' lack of power steering helps a wee bit. ;)
 

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I’d say that absent a dedicated track toy (say perhaps a Lotus), this is about as good of an “enduro” as you can get at the moment. I think the better option is dedicated track toy with a Benzo C63 for street use (or 335 if you don’t want to spend M / AMG money after buying that track toy). If you’re trying to decide between M3 vs. C63 and you’re going to do anything more serious than casual club events or low / mid level HPDE, you gotta go M3
Excellent Frank! Interesting car-cloth seats and no roof, but Navigation.

I drove one last week; I'm deciding between the M3 and C 63. My observations were pretty much the same. I wasn't so blown away (I'm near sea level) with the torque delivery, and it was a LOT quieter than I anticipated, but the brakes and the handling were incredible. The variable electronic damping was cool too. The interior was the Extended Leather and was (and smelled) yummy, and the woven carbon trim on the dash was really unique.

If I could only have one car, the 4 door M3 would be it, street car, track car, and hauling kids car. But the Elise is my back-road car, and a 2-Eleven will be my track car. I drove an E 63 right after the M3, and the torque was in another world. It didn't have three pedals, but the paddle-auto was fun and worked well. So I might get sucked in by the C 63.:shift:
 

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"but the M3’s units provided for immediate stopping with great initial-bite, good modulation and pretty terrific pedal feel"

"initial bite" and "good modulation/pedal feel" are mutually exclusive. It is important to "roll into the brake pedal" such that the force is applied parabolically not linearly. At first tip-in, the passenger should not even realize that you've moved your foot from the throttle. You should be a good inch into the brake pedal travel before it starts to bite. And when done correctly, your passenger would never notice pedal work. He should only get a sense that you've begun slowing down. A pedal that "bites" makes this awfully hard work.

I haven't driven the current M3 but I owned an E46 M3 and sold it largely because of the brake feel. BMW chooses to "suggest" tons of brake power by overboosting the brakes and in turn, makes the car very hard to drive smoothly (properly). In reality, the brakes are (at least were) still a soft spot on the car (E46). I've seen them fail repeatedly at track events (eg, catch fire and quit working). I know Porsches don't get a lot of love on this board but comparing some of the worst (BMW) brakes to the absolute best (Porsche) brakes is just new car owner enthusiasm.

Anyway, either BMW fixed their brakes or you just haven't driven it enough to realize how touchy and annoying they are yet. If you do decide it's the latter, check out any of the M3 boards for advice on trying to fix the problem. The most common approach seems to be to install different pads with less bite to balance out the excessive brake booster.

I do hope you enjoy your car. It's certainly a well built and powerful GT. I see you went with a manual. That's a very wise decision. The SMG leaves a lot to be desired.
 

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I agree with Brian - if I were to only have one car, something like this would be it

But I'd take an elise and something more comfy (and automatic for traffic)
 

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Frank, I really appreciate your write ups.
+1 Thanks Frank!

It's funny to read that the M3 is a bit of a come down after driving the Aston Martin. Maybe in between each cool car, you should drive a Geo Metro for a day...call it an automotive palette cleanser (like crackers or bread between courses).

Tom
 

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...and something more comfy (and automatic for traffic)
:thwack:
Automatic for traffic?? Wuss...:thwack:

Okay, I used to drive the LIE everyday and know what a sore leg can be like, but geez, don't admit to that kind of thing here.
 

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I have an e-46 m3 which the pundits say is more raw with better steering than the new one. By me the steering is the worst feature, numb and slow although with a lot of feeless return springing. Great motor though, crapish brakes and way way too heavy. On the track these are essentialy street cars that go fast and wilt less, but still heel over and screech their way through corners. Honest no bite handling with little feedback.. A jack of all trades a master of none. A great daily that can go when caned, but further from a real sportscar feel than you think.

But then i think and R6 is the ideal bike and all the foibles of an old ferrari are a great part of the appeal.
Its not how big or heavy a car is, but its gotta feel alive and reactive, a M3 is just a little too slow to react for me.
 

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The new M3 is an ok car I would say. It is too bad that the E46 CSL beat the E92 on the ring. The carbon roof is a nice touch but isn't all that much of a savings attribute. The only real thing that makes the E92 better than the E46 is the 7 speed Dual clutch gearbox. The motor is nice however I think it doesn't have enough torque. Between the M3 and the C63, M3 all the way. Mercedes just doesn't compare with the auto trans and it seems like after the merge with Chrysler, the company went downhill. Between the M3 and 335, I would take the 335 as you can make the same power and more torque for a lot less money.
 

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I have an e-46 m3 which the pundits say is more raw with better steering than the new one. By me the steering is the worst feature, numb and slow although with a lot of feeless return springing. Great motor though, crapish brakes and way way too heavy. On the track these are essentialy street cars that go fast and wilt less, but still heel over and screech their way through corners. Honest no bite handling with little feedback.. A jack of all trades a master of none. A great daily that can go when caned, but further from a real sportscar feel than you think.

But then i think and R6 is the ideal bike and all the foibles of an old ferrari are a great part of the appeal.
Its not how big or heavy a car is, but its gotta feel alive and reactive, a M3 is just a little too slow to react for me.
I disagree with you mainly because I had an E46 and the steering and brakes I thought were quite decent. I did have the ZCP package however. The car is a bit heavy but what isn't compared to a Lotus.
 
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