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Posting this for informational purposes.

Drove E36 M3 (79k miles), no mods, and here is how I compare it to my 05 ZHP:

1. M3 feels more porsche like, raw, sportier, no-frills, grunty, drive-me-hard cause I like it type. ZHP feels more refined and lux yet still sufficiently sporty to be a daily driver and still zip around the curves.

2. M3 had noticeably harder acceleration, or at least it was noisier and more wild.

3. Pedals on E36 are closer to each other (easier to heel/toe).

4. Lack of steering wheel height/depth adjustment on E36's $40k car was very noticeable now that I can adjust my wheel up/down/in/out.
 

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The only reason I'd buy a ZHP over an E36 M3 (sedan) is cause it's newer w/ a warranty, but that's a big reason. You get tired of the surprise $900 Visa bills after a while, and the hour drive to the independent BMW shop.
 

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Dawg, the 330 will be the better car in the end because the platform is simply more sound. The performance difference is so miniscule that deciding a winner is up to the drivers. Unless you like that dated look and feel... ? Maybe the e36 has more raw qualities that you like, but then there are always other cars that mimic the race car like the Elise or the GT3. My personal opinion of course.. the one reason the e36 is raw is because it's archaic. Is it fast? Yes. Do I want to drive it fast? No.. e46 is just the safer car in the urban environment.

In the future I'm sure there will also be more mod potential for the e46 so as they get cheaper people will move over to them for track days. Perhaps the e36 puts you "more in touch" with the road. I think that's probably from the fact you get all that wind noise and various over squeaks going on in the car. If I want to recreate it in the e46 I'll just roll down a window.
 

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allaboutme said:
Dawg, the 330 will be the better car in the end because the platform is simply more sound. The performance difference is so miniscule that deciding a winner is up to the drivers. Unless you like that dated look and feel... ? Maybe the e36 has more raw qualities that you like, but then there are always other cars that mimic the race car like the Elise or the GT3. My personal opinion of course.. the one reason the e36 is raw is because it's archaic. Is it fast? Yes. Do I want to drive it fast? No.. e46 is just the safer car in the urban environment.

In the future I'm sure there will also be more mod potential for the e46 so as they get cheaper people will move over to them for track days. Perhaps the e36 puts you "more in touch" with the road. I think that's probably from the fact you get all that wind noise and various over squeaks going on in the car. If I want to recreate it in the e46 I'll just roll down a window.
Well I disagree, the reasons the E36 is more involving have nothing to do with road noise - and I love the sound of the inline six, can barely hear it in the E46, at best you will hear the exhaust, that's it. I also love the look inside & out. I'm going to most likely buy a ZHP 330, but not cause I like it more, just cause I want a new car. If I could buy a new E36 M3 sedan today, I'd do it.
 

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The E36 has WAY more low end torque.

Mind you, the reason they took the adjustable steering column out of the E36 was that they found it had a tendency to centerpunch the driver. Oops.
 

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Centerpunch... Ouch. Sounds like that would hurt.
Low end torque is addressed by staying in the right rev range. Once there it won't matter much. The e36 would be a better car if it got the same engine the Europeans got, but we didn't so the m3 isn't living up to its "potential".

I agree there's not a lot of engine noise entering the cabin. The exhaust does drown out any of that engine noise. But e36s have this loud as hell exhaust system compared to the e46. The difference between the two cars is the e46 IS meant to be a more refined car so there is more sound padding and isolation in the cabin. And your view of the interior is your opinion, so there's no arguing that.
 

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allaboutme said:
Centerpunch... Ouch. Sounds like that would hurt.
Low end torque is addressed by staying in the right rev range. Once there it won't matter much. The e36 would be a better car if it got the same engine the Europeans got, but we didn't so the m3 isn't living up to its "potential".

I agree there's not a lot of engine noise entering the cabin. The exhaust does drown out any of that engine noise. But e36s have this loud as hell exhaust system compared to the e46. The difference between the two cars is the e46 IS meant to be a more refined car so there is more sound padding and isolation in the cabin. And your view of the interior is your opinion, so there's no arguing that.
I dunno abotu you, but driving around town I find it difficult to "stay in the right rev range," and the 330's excessively tall gearing makes the situation worse.
 

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Are you talking about your m3 or a 330? I don't find it too difficult to stay in 2nd up to 35-40mph in the city. I mean it's better to have power available at the "expense" of fuel economy or noise contrasting to the problems that could come up when not staying at the engines sweet spot.
 

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allaboutme said:
Are you talking about your m3 or a 330? I don't find it too difficult to stay in 2nd up to 35-40mph in the city. I mean it's better to have power available at the "expense" of fuel economy or noise contrasting to the problems that could come up when not staying at the engines sweet spot.
I'm saying that I don't believe in cruising around at 3-5000K in the city a particularly appealing proposition.

More to the point, I don't like launching at revs above 1200 or so, and the 330 really suffers off the line.
 

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allaboutme said:
Low end torque is addressed by staying in the right rev range. Once there it won't matter much. The e36 would be a better car if it got the same engine the Europeans got, but we didn't so the m3 isn't living up to its "potential".

I agree there's not a lot of engine noise entering the cabin. The exhaust does drown out any of that engine noise. But e36s have this loud as hell exhaust system compared to the e46. The difference between the two cars is the e46 IS meant to be a more refined car so there is more sound padding and isolation in the cabin. And your view of the interior is your opinion, so there's no arguing that.
I don't care much about torque, what's important to me is what do I feel when I'm driving hard, is the car communicating what's going on, or just driving itself? The E36 has better pedal feel, steering feel, and seat of the pants feel. I feel more like I'm driving, and less like I'm commuting.

I'm not saying I prefer the E36 M3 by a huge amount, just that it's a little more fun, more intuitive, more involving. But it's not an exotic, a GT3 or anything, in fact it's too similar in feel to my 325i. It also doesn't have the slightly exotic/special feeling of an E46 M3.

I can't say I prefer the E46 interior, they're about a toss-up - of course a new car's interior is in better shape than a 7 year old car's.
 

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Dawg90 said:
I don't care much about torque, what's important to me is what do I feel when I'm driving hard, is the car communicating what's going on, or just driving itself? The E36 has better pedal feel, steering feel, and seat of the pants feel. I feel more like I'm driving, and less like I'm commuting.

I'm not saying I prefer the E36 M3 by a huge amount, just that it's a little more fun, more intuitive, more involving. But it's not an exotic, a GT3 or anything, in fact it's too similar in feel to my 325i. It also doesn't have the slightly exotic/special feeling of an E46 M3.

I can't say I prefer the E46 interior, they're about a toss-up - of course a new car's interior is in better shape than a 7 year old car's.
I love this "I don't need low end torque, I stay in second gear at 40MPH" argument.
 

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Nick325xiT 5spd said:
I'm saying that I don't believe in cruising around at 3-5000K in the city a particularly appealing proposition.

More to the point, I don't like launching at revs above 1200 or so, and the 330 really suffers off the line.
I'm really hoping my impending 2.93 to 3.38 diff swap will help address this issue.
 

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Plaz said:
I'm really hoping my impending 2.93 to 3.38 diff swap will help address this issue.
It will help. A LOT. There were certain speeds where I found my 325xiT actualyl drove better than the 330. It was easier to get off the line, and it didn't force me to shift into first quite so quickly.
 

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You can always....downshift....if you don't enjoy staying at 4000rpm. The car is quick. It's not the quickest thing on the road, but there's absolutely nothing lacking in city driving. You just have to know how to drive it.

BMWs are normally torque deprived. Your m3 is an excellent example since the engine makes no thrust yet achieves phenomenal speeds.
 

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Nick325xiT 5spd said:
I love this "I don't need low end torque, I stay in second gear at 40MPH" argument.
Given the choice I prefer low-end torque, it's one reason (of about 500) i prefer my 325i to my previous car, an Integra GSR sedan. The Integra was faster on paper, but I hated having the flog the crap out of it just to merge in traffic.

But torque is not one of the main reasons I prefer the E36 M3.
 

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allaboutme said:
You can always....downshift....if you don't enjoy staying at 4000rpm. The car is quick. It's not the quickest thing on the road, but there's absolutely nothing lacking in city driving. You just have to know how to drive it.

BMWs are normally torque deprived. Your m3 is an excellent example since the engine makes no thrust yet achieves phenomenal speeds.
Yes, that's why I'm a big proponent of the M3 w/Corvette engine concept. That'd be the PERFECT car in my book.

I know perfectly well how to drive it. I just know that BMW's engines are an area where they really fall flat. There's so much potential in that monster engine bay, yet they refuse to use it.
 

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Dawg90 said:
Given the choice I prefer low-end torque, it's one reason (of about 500) i prefer my 325i to my previous car, an Integra GSR sedan. The Integra was faster on paper, but I hated having the flog the crap out of it just to merge in traffic.

But torque is not one of the main reasons I prefer the E36 M3.
For me, the LSD is enough. The constant wheelspin I get in the 323 is incredibly irritating.
 

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But there's just something about BMW engines that are so appealing. It's not about absolute power but how it comes on. The S54 is an excellent engine and there's a reason why it has been engine of the year for a few years running now. There's just something wrong with putting a brute of an engine like that of a corvettes in the M3. Revving high to get power is fun. Think s2000 or Elise
 

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allaboutme said:
Are you talking about your m3 or a 330? I don't find it too difficult to stay in 2nd up to 35-40mph in the city. I mean it's better to have power available at the "expense" of fuel economy or noise contrasting to the problems that could come up when not staying at the engines sweet spot.
Hmmm. I'm usually in 4th gear at 35-40, it's not often that I have an unplanned need to rocket to 60-70 by staying in 2nd gear, roaring along.
 

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There's nothing wrong being in 4th at 40... But it's not the most efficient point for the engine. Any need to accelerate is stunted from...well.. that lack of low end torque. And I think that's what this post has really turned into. Whether you want to dawdle along in high gear... blast along in a low gear... or stay in the proper gear and downshift when needed.
 
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