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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok,
As many of you have seen from the "Lookie" post I went and test drove an 1999 E36 M3 today. I am seriously considering purchasing the car. Some of you have asked my (dyed in the wool E46 fan) my opinion of the E36 and how it compares to the E46 M3 which I drove recently.

E36 M3:
This is a great car. Very fast pulls well through all gears. Handles very well. It has a seat of the pants feel you don't get in the E46. This car NEEDS an SSK! I think the throws are longer than my 325ci! At least it felt that way.

E46 M3:
This is an amazing car! It is so competent, it does everything well. It is heavy but the extra power (333hp) and great steering compensates well. I could drive this car faster around a track than the E36 though it would feel slower. You don't have the seat of the pants feel that you do in the E36, this takes away some of the fun factor. In Sport mode this car is a monster pulling almost too hard for the street through all 6 gears and the entire rev band.

Conclusion:
Is one better than the other? No, they are both great cars worthy of the "///M" badge. They are different animals though.
In the hands of an expert driver I'd love to see a race between these two just to see who would win...I don't think I could bet on either.
 

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Re: Re: My E36 M3 review/comparison

Alan F said:


what do you mean 'no' ?

The E46 M3 is far superior to the E36 M3 in everyway except one and that's price . . .
And perceived fun levels. It's still an E46 at heart, and we all know that the E46 handles better at the cost of fun.
 
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in_d_haus said:
Ok,
As many of you have seen from the "Lookie" post I went and test drove an 1999 E36 M3 today. I am seriously considering purchasing the car. Some of you have asked my (dyed in the wool E46 fan) my opinion of the E36 and how it compares to the E46 M3 which I drove recently.

E36 M3:
This is a great car. Very fast pulls well through all gears. Handles very well. It has a seat of the pants feel you don't get in the E46. This car NEEDS an SSK! I think the throws are longer than my 325ci! At least it felt that way.

E46 M3:
This is an amazing car! It is so competent, it does everything well. It is heavy but the extra power (333hp) and great steering compensates well. I could drive this car faster around a track than the E36 though it would feel slower. You don't have the seat of the pants feel that you do in the E36, this takes away some of the fun factor. In Sport mode this car is a monster pulling almost too hard for the street through all 6 gears and the entire rev band.

Conclusion:
Is one better than the other? No, they are both great cars worthy of the "///M" badge. They are different animals though.
In the hands of an expert driver I'd love to see a race between these two just to see who would win...I don't think I could bet on either.
Thanks for the write-up haus, even if it was a bit shorter than I expected. :D

What's your personal verdict?
 

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I'll pretty much agree with what you say, especially this "I could drive this car faster around a track than the E36 though it would feel slower." You have to be going REALLY fast in the E46 for it to seem like you are breaking a sweat :D

I'd get the E46 M3 SMG :D

And, I'd bet on it in a race :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Additional:

I fired up the E36 M3 at the dealer and loved the exhaust note. From the minute I started off I knew this was a fun car! The power is right there and the car pulls well in all gears through most of the revs. This car inspires confidence, I had it in a 4 wheel drift going around a curve onto the freeway within minutes of starting the car (the dealer let me drive the car alone)

The car accellerates very quickly and has a very well balanced feel to it. You can feel the weight in the E46 M3 but I think they compensate for it well. I entered the freeway and only then realized I was going 95! Yipes! onto the binders which are very capable of hauling the car down to legal speeds quickly.

On my E46 M3 test drive I never got over 70 due to traffic and construction in the area...but I got there in the blink of an eye.

The E36 handles the twisties very well and loves to corner (I want to get this car on the track!)

The E36 M3 deserves all that is said about it, it s a wonderful car. It is a purists car more than the E46 which is no less capable but has less feel as I have stated.

Cars are subjective, a friend of mine and E30 M3 purist told me all other cars are a piece of crap in comparison. I'd say the E36 M3 is to the E46 M3 what the E30 M3 is to the E36. Different but the newer one is a bit better and more refined.

I'm 80% sure I'll be driving a 1999 E36 M3 tomorrow..... If ya wanted to know :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
nate328Ci said:

I'd get the E46 M3 SMG :D

And, I'd bet on it in a race :p
I'd absolutely get the E46 M3 IF the economic outlook at Boeing and in my area were not in the grim shape it is. The E36 will be a very fun I can play with till better times. The E36 will run me about the same (actually a bit less) as my 325 currently does and my insurance isn't even moving up a whole lot.

When things are better I can move this car, it's in immaculate condition and loaded, for a better price than the 325 and get either an E46 M3 or whatever is new at that time.

My 325 is a great car but not for the heavy tracking I've been doing to it. it just can't compete and I'm afraid it will break from the stress....I've got a big competitive streak!

Let me at those Porsches!
 

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in_d_haus said:
I'd absolutely get the E46 M3 IF the economic outlook at Boeing and in my area were not in the grim shape it is. The E36 will be a very fun I can play with till better times. The E36 will run me about the same (actually a bit less) as my 325 currently does and my insurance isn't even moving up a whole lot.

When things are better I can move this car, it's in immaculate condition and loaded, for a better price than the 325 and get either an E46 M3 or whatever is new at that time.

My 325 is a great car but not for the heavy tracking I've been doing to it. it just can't compete and I'm afraid it will break from the stress....I've got a big competitive streak!

Let me at those Porsches!
Your 325 is stressed :yikes:

I'm not sure the E36 is as up to heavy tracking as well. Watch those subframe mounts! The fronts can tear with heavy track use, and the rear fails too! Get the X-Brace though.

Maybe you could get an M3/4 and sell the E34 :dunno: Or sell both cars and get the E46 M3.

BTW, what kind of brake pads are you using on the 325? My full maintainance is out in 40 miles and I have to start paying. Looking for low fade, but streetable.
 

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Just for the record, Sport mode does not change th epower ouput. It only changes the throttle opening to pedal position mapping. WOT is WOT and the same power.

Having a 2000 M Roadster (same engine as the E36 M3) and an E46 M3, I understand what you are saying. The S52 engine, with its gering FEELS very strong. Much more sensation of grunt.

BUT the E46 is so much quicker, it is unbelieveable. This summer I did the NCC Highway Safety School. In the afternoon we did a slalom after the turn onto the back straight, then acclerated up the straight to a lane change exercise into the corner at the end of the straight. The slalom used offset cones and was VERY slow, 1st gear slow and used up a good bit of the straight. Exiting that slalom and acclerating WOT down the striaght I would hit 70 or so before easy braking for the turn at the end.The end of the day I rode with an instructor in an E36 M3, full course, no slalom, on R compound tires. At the end of the same straight he was doing about 80. But he entered the straight at speed, and he also was braking much harder at the end.

ither way, you won't go wrong. Buy the E36 drive it, when times get better, buy the E46 and turn the E36 into a track car. :bigpimp:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
nate328Ci said:


Your 325 is stressed :yikes:

I'm not sure the E36 is as up to heavy tracking as well. Watch those subframe mounts! The fronts can tear with heavy track use, and the rear fails too! Get the X-Brace though.

Maybe you could get an M3/4 and sell the E34 :dunno: Or sell both cars and get the E46 M3.

BTW, what kind of brake pads are you using on the 325? My full maintainance is out in 40 miles and I have to start paying. Looking for low fade, but streetable.
Well, maybe it isn't stressed. it does well but I'm tired of getting passed by M3s on the straight, I can hang with most anything on the corners.

I just use the stock pads for now. I was going to look to aftermarket pads next track season. They do have a Cosmos black '99 M3/4 down at the dealer as well. I'm a coupe guy though.

I'll sleep on it and see in the AM if I have a new car or dump $$ into my E46.

They DID just take in an '01 E46 M3 (Alpine white) in trade at my dealer but it's not out yet. They guessed high 40s for the car
 

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Re: Re: My E36 M3 review/comparison

Alan F said:


what do you mean 'no' ?

The E46 M3 is far superior to the E36 M3 in everyway except one and that's price . . .
Let me elobarate a little bit since my post sounds too dicky . . .
I've driven the E36 M3 many times and it truly is an incredible car and by far has THE BEST steering of any BMW I've ever driven. The power is excellent and the torque seems to always be there.

No doubt it is a VERY fun car . . . if you get it, you will definitely enjoy it.

I didn't want you to get me wrong by my previous post though I still think the E46 is superior which doesn't take anything away from the E36.

It's just like the E46 m3 is superior to my 330Ci, it doesn't take anything away from my car, it's just the E46 M3 is THAT much better . . .
 

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in_d_haus said:


Well, maybe it isn't stressed. it does well but I'm tired of getting passed by M3s on the straight, I can hang with most anything on the corners.
LOL! I know what you are talking about.

Last time I went to the track, I was in a 330Cic (yes, cabrio) and was riding the M3s in the turns, but got left behind BADLY in the straights. I could barely pass them in the straights, they had to brake for me to pass.

In my car, the only E36 that I have come up against was a fully track preped M3 (cage, coils, R-comps) She blew me away badly everwhere, not a suprise, especially since she was an instructor :p
 

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in_d_haus said:
The cool thing was that my salesman went in the back and came out with a brand new 1999 E36 M3 sales brochure and gave it to me...old stock.
Cool!

Are you going to test drive that E46 too? Try it out tomorrow and see if you can go more than 70 this time :p

Ever driven an E36 M3 on the track?
 

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in_d_haus said:

I just use the stock pads for now. I was going to look to aftermarket pads next track season. They do have a Cosmos black '99 M3/4 down at the dealer as well. I'm a coupe guy
Don't your stock pads fade a lot?

Mine do? Though the track is fairly small. 1.8 miles and a short straight. Maybe because the 328 (SW/intake) is a bit faster on the same stopping power :dunno:
 

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I really like driving the E36 M3 - it feels hard-wired to my brain, and you really can feel every pebble on the road. The gearbox and clutch are perfectly matched to that sweet engine, and the car just feels right. Surprisingly, it does not feel overly fast to me - acceleration is good, but not neck-snapping. Perhaps this is because I have driven an M roadster, which does seem to have better acceleration. Handling is telepathic, brakes are incredible. A truly superb car.
 

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Good review. I figured it would be longer too, but you summed it up nicely. :)

The only thing I would like on my '99 M3 is more power. Then again, I spend lots of time with LS1 guys. I agree with your assessment that the E36 M has superior road feel and driver intuition. The E46 M3 is a beast of a machine, but I was turned away by a few things. Price is one of them - a well equipped M3 coupe will run well past $52k after sales tax, luxury tax, and gas guzzler tax. Another thing is the isolation of the E46 platform. The M3 goes a long way towards fixing this, but it's still less connected than the E36. That's fine - I realize that it's intended to be a more luxurious ride, and I'm sure that 325 and 330 buyers and non-enthusiast M3 buyers appreciate it. I'm willing to bet that enthusiast M3 owners wouldn't mind a little less quiet and a little more feedback.

Good luck with your decision!
 
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Jetfire said:
Good review. I figured it would be longer too, but you summed it up nicely. :)

The only thing I would like on my '99 M3 is more power. Then again, I spend lots of time with LS1 guys. I agree with your assessment that the E36 M has superior road feel and driver intuition. The E46 M3 is a beast of a machine, but I was turned away by a few things. Price is one of them - a well equipped M3 coupe will run well past $52k after sales tax, luxury tax, and gas guzzler tax. Another thing is the isolation of the E46 platform. The M3 goes a long way towards fixing this, but it's still less connected than the E36. That's fine - I realize that it's intended to be a more luxurious ride, and I'm sure that 325 and 330 buyers and non-enthusiast M3 buyers appreciate it. I'm willing to bet that enthusiast M3 owners wouldn't mind a little less quiet and a little more feedback.

Good luck with your decision!
I have not bothered to take the time to test drive an E46 M3 yet (as I'm not in the market for one, it has been low on my list of priorities). But even I am surprised by the posts from you guys who have driven them claiming that they are relatively isolated too. From all I've read, I inferred that this was not the case.

Huh!?
 
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