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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-07-2012, 08:44 PM
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bmw330ci04 bmw330ci04 is offline
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E46 Vs. E9x, Just my thoughts

OK, now i know that this same topic has been posted more times that people can count, but no matter. Recently, my father added a new car to the family; a 2007 335i convertible. Originally he was going to look at a CLK550, but after a ton of pestering from me about what a clot he would look, he test drove the 335i and wanted to keep a BMW in his life, so he did, bought it used for 29xxx with a little bit of the warranty left on it. naturally, since i convinced him to but it, he let me take it for a spin. here are some of the things i noticed that are different from my beloved 330ci.

-Im sorry, but what happened to the "C" indicating that its a coupe? i have no idea why they got rid of that
-The twin turbos in this engine throw you back like no other 3 series (other than the M3) ever has, its amazing, i had the AC on, and the automatic gearbox in "automatic" mode all i know is i got up to about 50MPH pretty damn quick.
-The automatic gearbox doesnt really work. maybe im just used to the stick, but typically with an auto i feel the car coast without any gas, but not in this. its almost like the car wants to make you think you have a stick. OK, the paddles are fun to putz around with for like 5 minutes, and then i want my clutch back.
-one of the big disappointments with the E9X was the interior.. i hated it. the gauge cluster is too crammed for the size of the dash, i miss the 4 separate gauges, in this one there is only two big ones , with the other two smaller ones inside. i dont like the feel of the leather, it almost feels cheap. i hate the iDrive, or whatever they call it these days, its just inconvenient. i hate how if you have one of those paper cups from like McDonalds they sweat and get all over the center console because of that afterthought that is a cupholder. i could go on. AND I HATE, I MEAN HATE, THE WINDOWS NOT ON THE CENTER CONSOLE. WHY? JUST WHY? And that really makes me upset, its almost like our generation cars were made better, better quality.
-Handling: One of the first things i noticed was the very tight steering, i dont know whether i like that or not. when im on a road, yes, of course, turn the power steering off completely, but when im trying to park, it just becomes a nuisance. i know that because its a convertible it doesnt handle as well as a coupe, but it handles about the same as my car.
-No oil dipstick: REALLY, come on BMW..

all in all, i dont know about this car. its unbelievably fast for a normal 3, no doubt. but it doesnt really "feel" like a BMW, it just feels like a nice car, it doesnt really have that BMW styling that i love so much, that BMW interior design that sells the car practically.
would i buy the car, yes. would i miss my E46? no question. i know my father does, he tells me every day.

for those who have driven both, i assume most of you have, post your thoughts, im interested to hear them
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  #2  
Old 09-07-2012, 08:55 PM
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I`ve driven a few iterations of the E9x, and am pretty sure that I would be disappointed in anything other than an M3....
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  #3  
Old 09-07-2012, 09:25 PM
KenG KenG is offline
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The e9x's are nice but the 328i I drove seem to be lost of its "soul" doesn't feel anything like my 323ci

my buddy's gf recently got a 135i and it looks nice, I've yet to see if she will let me drive it
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  #4  
Old 09-07-2012, 11:40 PM
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E9x is great for people who are getting into BMWs for the first time and don't know any better. However, for people who have previously driven BMWs it's a change towards the mainstream volume sellers such as the Camrys and Accords. Wait till you try out the F3x, the current 3 series, it's even more squarely targeted at the mainstream. If you have to get an E9x, the M3 and 335is are your target cars.
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Old 09-08-2012, 02:03 AM
lgr122 lgr122 is offline
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Well, E90 is about 140kg (300lbs) heavier, that does something to handling.
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  #6  
Old 09-08-2012, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw330ci04 View Post
-Im sorry, but what happened to the "C" indicating that its a coupe? i have no idea why they got rid of that
-The automatic gearbox doesnt really work. maybe im just used to the stick, but typically with an auto i feel the car coast without any gas, but not in this....
-one of the big disappointments with the E9X was the interior..... AND I HATE, I MEAN HATE, THE WINDOWS NOT ON THE CENTER CONSOLE. WHY? JUST WHY? ...
-No oil dipstick: REALLY, come on BMW..
So, you couldn't tell it was coupe/convertible just by looking at it?

Actually, the auto works quite well. (There's been a big discussion of the downshifting on another forum if you want to search it out.) Remember, in a manual you would downshift to keep the revs up and the engine on the torque curve. This is even more important with a turbo so that they are spooled up and you have the power you need when you get back on the gas. The torque converters (of both the GM and ZF trannies) lock up asap and stay locked. Don't you want the engine connected to the drive shaft?

Come on, now. The thing you hate most is the placement of the window controls? Ever driven a 5-series? The window switches on the E46 are magnets for crumbs and coffee spills; don't you hate that?

Even on my E46, the oil level light never disagreed with my dipstick. It's easier to check your oil from the cockpit, and 90% of drivers never open the hood anyway. I've never heard of an engine failure from low oil in an E9x; the proof is in the pudding.

IMO, the E90 is a better car in almost every way; I even like the RFTs.
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  #7  
Old 09-08-2012, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floydarogers View Post
So, you couldn't tell it was coupe/convertible just by looking at it?

Actually, the auto works quite well. (There's been a big discussion of the downshifting on another forum if you want to search it out.) Remember, in a manual you would downshift to keep the revs up and the engine on the torque curve. This is even more important with a turbo so that they are spooled up and you have the power you need when you get back on the gas. The torque converters (of both the GM and ZF trannies) lock up asap and stay locked. Don't you want the engine connected to the drive shaft?

Come on, now. The thing you hate most is the placement of the window controls? Ever driven a 5-series? The window switches on the E46 are magnets for crumbs and coffee spills; don't you hate that?

Even on my E46, the oil level light never disagreed with my dipstick. It's easier to check your oil from the cockpit, and 90% of drivers never open the hood anyway. I've never heard of an engine failure from low oil in an E9x; the proof is in the pudding.

IMO, the E90 is a better car in almost every way; I even like the RFTs.
Exactly like I mentioned, these types of comments about not opening the hood and the convenience of checking the dipstick from inside the car are very "mainstream" driver usage centric.

Most of the old timer BMW owners don't only drive their cars and love them, they usually know exactly what's under the hood and know how to wrench on them. Ever been under the hood of an E30, E34 or E28?

BTW, the reason for the dipstick is to make sure you can check the oil level so that you can prevent the oil light from going on. You can actually top off the oil before it reaches the 1 quart low or below that forces the oil level light to go on. Preventive is much better than reactive, and if you haven't noticed, turbo engines (N54/55 & N20) are more prone to failure due to oil starvation compared to the E46 M54 engines.

Engine Issues due to a combination of oil starvation and aggressive driving + heavy load scenarios:
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=464348

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=573622

However, the main root cause for failure on most E9x are the HPFP:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_N54

I'm not even going to comment on the RFTs, that's just wrong in all aspects.

Last edited by av98; 09-08-2012 at 08:21 AM.
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  #8  
Old 09-08-2012, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by av98 View Post

BTW, the reason for the dipstick is to make sure you can check the oil level so that you can prevent the oil light from going on. You can actually top off the oil before it reaches the 1 quart low or below that forces the oil level light to go on. Preventive is much better than reactive, and if you haven't noticed, turbo engines (N54/55 & N20) are more prone to failure due to oil starvation compared to the E46 M54 engines.
The oil level checker behaves the same as a dipstick (for oil LEVEL anyway) when it's working properly. The "low" mark on the indicator is the same as the low mark on the standard dipsticks, but it gives you four marks above that to show detail. What you CAN'T see is the color or viscosity of the oil, that's what gets me. I find myself sticking my finger down into the engine through the oil fill cap (engine off of course) on my wife's X3 so I can SEE the oil. Last time I drove her car it was 1/4 quart low - the indicator looked like this: [OOO_]
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Old 09-08-2012, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floydarogers View Post
So, you couldn't tell it was coupe/convertible just by looking at it?

Actually, the auto works quite well. (There's been a big discussion of the downshifting on another forum if you want to search it out.) Remember, in a manual you would downshift to keep the revs up and the engine on the torque curve. This is even more important with a turbo so that they are spooled up and you have the power you need when you get back on the gas. The torque converters (of both the GM and ZF trannies) lock up asap and stay locked. Don't you want the engine connected to the drive shaft?

Come on, now. The thing you hate most is the placement of the window controls? Ever driven a 5-series? The window switches on the E46 are magnets for crumbs and coffee spills; don't you hate that?

Even on my E46, the oil level light never disagreed with my dipstick. It's easier to check your oil from the cockpit, and 90% of drivers never open the hood anyway. I've never heard of an engine failure from low oil in an E9x; the proof is in the pudding.

IMO, the E90 is a better car in almost every way; I even like the RFTs.
Of course i can tell that its a coupe/ convertible vs a sedan, if i couldnt, i shouldnt be driving one. all i am saying is i liked the way they badged them back in the day, coupes had a "C", sedans didnt. not only does it look cool, its easier to say 330Ci than 335i coupe.

That is your opinion, i just disagree with it.Of course i want the engine connected to the drive shaft, but when i want to coast, i want to take my foot off the gas and coast. when im really driving the car, on those curvy bits, thats when i use the manual mode, when i want the high revs, and all that stuff. if it were my choice, id pay the less money and buy the manual.

I never said the window switches were what i hate most. no, ive never driven a 5, however ive been in one, whats your point? the window switches in the 3 were a defining feature about that car. i remember when i was younger and my dad had an 86 with the window switches were in the center, i thought that car was so cool, and that just added to it. why would they just take that away. whenever i drive my fathers 335i, we BOTH fiddle around near the center console looking for the controls we know so well.
Again, thats your opinion.

Maybe 90% of the drivers dont open their hood, so what? i LIKE opening my hood, i like checking my oil, changing it, inspecting stuff in the engine bay. if you dont like doing that stuff the e9X is right for you. and wouldnt you rather see the oil and be able to tell how much you have instead of relying an a computer that could be wrong?

Again im not trying to pick a fight, thats just my opinion
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  #10  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:54 AM
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I admit I haven't driven one but did look at and sit in a 335S at the dealer's. Impressive car but more like a 5 series in size than a 3.

As for the oil sensor versus dip stick...anyone who really cares about the longevity of their car, should be concerned by the reliance on a cheap electrical part being responsible for the safety and function of the engine. Sensors are known to fail: it's inevitable. On our cars, if a sensor fails, one can ck the oil and ensure proper levels are maintained until the sensor is replaced. On the E9x, if the sensor fails, you blow up your engine!

Story...my wife took a long road trip in our maxima, she is not a techie so I told her to just watch the warning lgihts and gave her instructions on what they meant and what to do if they came on. When she returned, no lights were on but the engine was making an odd noise. I checked things out and sure enough, the oil sending sensor had failed and she was running on 1.8 litres of engine oil!

Some things should remain manual and fluid levels is one of them (transmissions is another ).IMHO.
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Last edited by djstrachan; 09-08-2012 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:39 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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I had an E90 and loved that car. Mine was a 2006 330i 6MT, the first year and the only year with the fun version of the N52. The power delivery was seamless, the tranmission was smooth, and the whole feel of the car was solid. Everything held up really well until I sold it with 80k miles: No rattles, no peeling trim, no broken anything.

Mine had a couple of mods:
- CDV removed
- SSK (the Turner Motorsport I think)
- 19 inch BMW wheels with good non flat rubber

It also came with the active steering which was lambasted in the press but I happened to really like it. I drove a colleague's 335i with standard steering once and turn in was so much slower that I almost hit the car parked in the spot next to the one I was pulling into. Oopsie

That car was great for almost weekly highway drives from the Bay Area through the Sierras and on top of that it returned unbelievable gas mileage given the size of the car and the performance. I was consistently getting 10% to 15% better mileage than with our MINI Cooper S - Same route, same driver, similar conditions.

The center stack is admitedly not as driver oriented as the E46, but the integration of multiple functions (phone book, satelite, trip computer, advanced radio settings) on the radio interface was very well done and easy to use. The quick 3 blink on the trun signal stalk is also a great feature not available on the E46 as is hill hold which I came to rely on maybe a little too much in SF. I was not fond of the placement of the cup holder, but it did not break and I would never have thought that possible when I first bought the car.

Oh, and not evey E90 driver is clueless about DIY. I did the mods listed above and changed my own oil, brakes at all four corners, air filter, and particulate filter. I stopped doing coolant and brake / trans / diff fluids because recycling these fluids is becoming more of a problem around here, so I have my trusty independent do that work.

Sorry about the rant... I like my E46, but my experience with my E90 was nothing short of phenomenal and I would put it at or near the top of the great cars I've had. Out of the ten BMW's I have bought and sold, the E90 and my 88 325i convertible are the two I wish I had kept. My stomach was in knots when the new owner drove away with it - the kind of feeling like you're taking your dog to the vet and you know he's not coming back.

I hope your Dad has a good experience with his 335i. It should be a fun car. It's heavier and more "grown up" than the E46, but a great car nonetheless. I think that if you spend more time behind the wheel you will appreciate it more.



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Old 09-08-2012, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djstrachan View Post

Some things should remain manual and fluid levels is one of them (transmissions is another ).IMHO.
I agree with that sentiment, however, there are already so many sensors we rely on in our e46's that it's not a deal-breaker for me. Of course I'd want a dipstick and I think it's ridiculous to remove something so essential. But when you learn the oil usage of the engine and pay attention, you won't find yourself suddenly 3 quarts low or something, and when the sensor failed in my e46 it let me know and I replaced it. I'm learning to accept the N52 in my wife's car, can you tell? Of course, as has been said, what you can't replace is being able to SEE the oil, I think that's the biggest problem we all have with it.

Speaking of the sensor failing, there's an access panel under my wife's car that accesses only the oil level sensor. ha!
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:21 PM
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I agree with that sentiment, however, there are already so many sensors we rely on in our e46's that it's not a deal-breaker for me. Of course I'd want a dipstick and I think it's ridiculous to remove something so essential. But when you learn the oil usage of the engine and pay attention, you won't find yourself suddenly 3 quarts low or something, and when the sensor failed in my e46 it let me know and I replaced it. I'm learning to accept the N52 in my wife's car, can you tell? Of course, as has been said, what you can't replace is being able to SEE the oil, I think that's the biggest problem we all have with it.

Speaking of the sensor failing, there's an access panel under my wife's car that accesses only the oil level sensor. ha!
The difference with the oil sensor is that if it fails, the result can be catastrophic! Most sensors will result in "limp mode" or poor performance/ck engine lights. You only get one crack at having your oil right. I just can't see myself ever being comfortable relying on an electronic sensor.

Maybe I'm old fashioned but I hope the dipstick returns at some point. Just because something can be done, doesn't mean it should. BMW has a history of getting a little carried away with gimmicks and technology for the sake of "can" and in some cases, the driving experience and reliability of their cars has suffered because of it.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:23 PM
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i work on e46s and e90s on a daily basis and im gonna say that i prefer the e90. it has a smoother ride. interior is much better than the e46. engine is much more efficient considering the new N series engines come with direct injection and valvetronic. and finally, at a DIY point of view, the e90 is much more easier to work on when it comes to major repairs.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:26 PM
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I wonder if our grandfathers had the same sort of debate when their cars went from having dipsticks in the fuel tank to a fuel gauge
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:28 PM
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IMO, the E90 is a better car in almost every way; I even like the RFTs.
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Old 09-08-2012, 01:45 PM
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When comparing the E46 to the E90, you have to be careful to compare comparably equipped cars. We have both an E90 (07 328i) and and E46 (04 325i) in our family. Both have the sport package, and we ditched the wretched runflats on the E90 a long time ago, so both cars now have exactly the same model, and almost the exact same size, Michelin all-season high performance tires. There really is no comparison between the two cars - the E46 is a great car, but the E90 is literally superior in every way. But when I've driven more pedestrian, non-sport package equipped E90s as loaners, I was underwhelmed, to the point where I'd say the E46 is still competitive.
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Old 09-08-2012, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by bmw330ci04 View Post
Of course i can tell that its a coupe/ convertible vs a sedan, if i couldnt, i shouldnt be driving one. all i am saying is i liked the way they badged them back in the day, coupes had a "C", sedans didnt. not only does it look cool, its easier to say 330Ci than 335i coupe.
The original fabulous, legendary, E30 was a coupe. It did not have a "c". Even when the sedan came out, the coupe didn't have a "c". Nor did the convertibles have a "C". Those designations came in with the E36, and have gone out with the E9x. If you're hung up on that era, you should have a cassette deck in your E46 (they were the base stereo, if you recall!)
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by floydarogers View Post
The original fabulous, legendary, E30 was a coupe. It did not have a "c". Even when the sedan came out, the coupe didn't have a "c". Nor did the convertibles have a "C". Those designations came in with the E36, and have gone out with the E9x. If you're hung up on that era, you should have a cassette deck in your E46 (they were the base stereo, if you recall!)
At least I could play genesis...
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:20 PM
lgr122 lgr122 is offline
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They could drop that "i" also already.

It came originally for marking injection engines back in old times when many still had carburetors, but all modern cars come with injection so there's no such need to mark it separately anymore.
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:17 AM
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They could drop that "i" also already.

It came originally for marking injection engines back in old times when many still had carburetors, but all modern cars come with injection so there's no such need to mark it separately anymore.
BMW was way ahead of its time with the lowercase 'i' haha
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:35 AM
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BMW was way ahead of its time with the lowercase 'i' haha
So, in keeping with modern convention, perhaps BMW could designate its cars as iFuel.

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Old 09-09-2012, 07:53 AM
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I took on an E90 335i sedan with all the sport nonsense through a very curvy road near the dealership. He was in front and I wasn't able to pass due to traffic and safety, but I could have. My suspension is crisp and new, so was his. He had more power, it was evident, but I carried more speed through the corners and braked later.

The fact is, no matter what anyone says we all have our opinions. I find ALL E90's wretched from a build quality and materials perspective. If you talk to guys who work on them, they hate them even more. I've seen and heard of a lot of issues with them from my buddy who owns a BMW shop, HE LOATHES them.

And I'll even say this, the E92 M3 is amazing enough I forget about the crappy interior layout, but the E90's all suck in that department. When the ZHP retires or gets relegated to weekend track car, I'm buying a Shelby Mustang, not a BMW.
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  #24  
Old 09-09-2012, 10:24 AM
SPDSKTR SPDSKTR is offline
I'm a DlCK! So what?
Location: Birmingham, AL, USA
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 2,028
Mein Auto: E30 with an S52
Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I took on an E90 335i sedan with all the sport nonsense through a very curvy road near the dealership. He was in front and I wasn't able to pass due to traffic and safety, but I could have. My suspension is crisp and new, so was his. He had more power, it was evident, but I carried more speed through the corners and braked later.

The fact is, no matter what anyone says we all have our opinions. I find ALL E90's wretched from a build quality and materials perspective. If you talk to guys who work on them, they hate them even more. I've seen and heard of a lot of issues with them from my buddy who owns a BMW shop, HE LOATHES them.

And I'll even say this, the E92 M3 is amazing enough I forget about the crappy interior layout, but the E90's all suck in that department. When the ZHP retires or gets relegated to weekend track car, I'm buying a Shelby Mustang, not a BMW.
I sense a GoPro in your future.
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  #25  
Old 09-09-2012, 12:54 PM
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av98 av98 is offline
ZHP = Patlabor
Location: SF Bay Area
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,340
Mein Auto: Mini Clubmn,Odyssey,Miata
Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I took on an E90 335i sedan with all the sport nonsense through a very curvy road near the dealership. He was in front and I wasn't able to pass due to traffic and safety, but I could have. My suspension is crisp and new, so was his. He had more power, it was evident, but I carried more speed through the corners and braked later.

The fact is, no matter what anyone says we all have our opinions. I find ALL E90's wretched from a build quality and materials perspective. If you talk to guys who work on them, they hate them even more. I've seen and heard of a lot of issues with them from my buddy who owns a BMW shop, HE LOATHES them.

And I'll even say this, the E92 M3 is amazing enough I forget about the crappy interior layout, but the E90's all suck in that department. When the ZHP retires or gets relegated to weekend track car, I'm buying a Shelby Mustang, not a BMW.
+1, koni yellows + hotchkis sways + ZHP/sport springs- can't go wrong
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Last edited by av98; 09-09-2012 at 01:20 PM.
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