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Ok, as if my newbie-ness weren't already abundantly clear, I have another question for you Bimmer Brains. I hear over and over that the recent Bimmers feel too isolated and disconnected from the road. What exactly does that mean? What was it about the older models that felt more "connected"?
 

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Rest in peace, Coach
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Go drive a late generation BMW (E46 or E90, for example), then go drive an earlier generation BMW (2002, E30...etc). Report back.

It's hard to put into words. If you're used to a clutch that picks up at the same spot every time, with a very small margin for slip, if you're used to a gas pedal that revs the engine up as you press it instead of .5 seconds later, if you're used to a steering wheel that gives you that extra bit of force on return to center...You will find that it's difficult to know exactly what the newer BMWs are doing when you push it to your limits.
 

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I think it comes down to:
steering/road feel (how much of the road can you feel through th esteering wheel and seat),
wind, engine and road noise (older cars had more)

Personally, I don't mind being a bit more isolated from these things in car that's meant as a daily driver. The main thinsg that I want out of a BMW are reasonably nice design, good balance, decent reliability, and reasonable practicality. If I wanted the full sports-car experience, i'd buy something else.
 

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The HACK said:
Go drive a late generation BMW (E46 or E90, for example), then go drive an earlier generation BMW (2002, E30...etc). Report back.

It's hard to put into words. If you're used to a clutch that picks up at the same spot every time, with a very small margin for slip, if you're used to a gas pedal that revs the engine up as you press it instead of .5 seconds later, if you're used to a steering wheel that gives you that extra bit of force on return to center...You will find that it's difficult to know exactly what the newer BMWs are doing when you push it to your limits.
THose are good points. I would want those characteristics too-- and its too bad that modern BMWs arne't as "direct" in those areas.
 

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I think Hack's definition will apply when driving two different cars regardless of make if you are trying a comparison between classic and current BMW's.

The more mechanical gizmos between the driver or the more work that was done to isolate the driver from the driving environment, the more disconnected you will feel.

When I drive my E46 323i with SP, I can feel how well the car is settled on the suspension, when turning I have a pretty good feel for how hard the steering is working, and when I press the throttle or clutch I can feel the engine at work. When I drive my parents mid 80's Buick I find it a pretty scary experience. The steering is so heavily boosted that as I turn the wheel there is no indication as to what the steering is trying to do. The suspension is so floaty and isolated that you feel like you are riding on top of the car and don't really know what it is doing nor how well it has planted the car on the ground.

While being a bit extream, the Buick is classic "disconnection" from the road. Personaly, it makes me rather uncomfortable to drive a vehicle like that.
 

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Have you played a realistic driving game like GT3 or GT4? In those games, you turn the stick (or driving wheel), and you can visually see what happens, and drive quite well that way. But you don't feel anything. Not that BMWs are like that, just they are moving a bit more in that direction with each generation.
 

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Dawg90 said:
Have you played a realistic driving game like GT3 or GT4? In those games, you turn the stick (or driving wheel), and you can visually see what happens, and drive quite well that way. But you don't feel anything. Not that BMWs are like that, just they are moving a bit more in that direction with each generation.
My parent's Buick is almost that bad... :eek:
 

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thelookingglass said:
Ok, as if my newbie-ness weren't already abundantly clear, I have another question for you Bimmer Brains. I hear over and over that the recent Bimmers feel too isolated and disconnected from the road. What exactly does that mean? What was it about the older models that felt more "connected"?
Here ya go:

E36 M3 steering and handling is still considered one of the best ever.
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In ultimate handling, the ///M3 has the clear advantage. The BMW's 69.4-mph eruption through MT's 600-foot slalom has been equaled only by the Ferrari F355, Porsche 911 Turbo, and Dodge Viper GTS among all current production cars. That's impressive company, and what's more amazing is that the ///M3's steering response may be the best of the bunch. Matching that dynamic performance are awesome brakes (60-0 mph in 113 feet). Around a tight road course, the ///M3 could well be the quickest production four-door ever ...
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The ///M3 possesses uncanny roadgoing ability. This is the most-agile car here. The steering eagerly bites into corners and is alive with feel. "Constantly talking to my fingers," wrote Csere. It latches onto a line in corners as if on a mission from God. Webster: "Rolls gracefully into curves at a constant rate and goes right where you point it."
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.... So, what's the best-handling car at any price? ...It's an eight-horn salute to the BMW ///M3 as "the best-handling car."

Link:
http://www.geocities.com/bmw_1999_m3/199905112a.html
 

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bimmerguy said:
Here ya go:

E36 M3 steering and handling is still considered one of the best ever.
-------------
In ultimate handling, the ///M3 has the clear advantage. The BMW's 69.4-mph eruption through MT's 600-foot slalom has been equaled only by the Ferrari F355, Porsche 911 Turbo, and Dodge Viper GTS among all current production cars. That's impressive company, and what's more amazing is that the ///M3's steering response may be the best of the bunch. Matching that dynamic performance are awesome brakes (60-0 mph in 113 feet). Around a tight road course, the ///M3 could well be the quickest production four-door ever ...
------------------------
The ///M3 possesses uncanny roadgoing ability. This is the most-agile car here. The steering eagerly bites into corners and is alive with feel. "Constantly talking to my fingers," wrote Csere. It latches onto a line in corners as if on a mission from God. Webster: "Rolls gracefully into curves at a constant rate and goes right where you point it."
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.... So, what's the best-handling car at any price? ...It's an eight-horn salute to the BMW ///M3 as "the best-handling car."

Link:
http://www.geocities.com/bmw_1999_m3/199905112a.html
I remeber a similar report in R&T about the hallowed E36 M3 when they tested how much feel the steering provided and foud that it could transmit feel from road variation as little as two quarters stacked on each other.

I REALLY have to drive one some day...
 

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Desertnate said:
I remeber a similar report in R&T about the hallowed E36 M3 when they tested how much feel the steering provided and foud that it could transmit feel from road variation as little as two quarters stacked on each other.

I REALLY have to drive one some day...
YES... thats the one I looked for online but could only find references to it, not the original article. Good old days, indeed.
 

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thelookingglass said:
Ok, as if my newbie-ness weren't already abundantly clear, I have another question for you Bimmer Brains. I hear over and over that the recent Bimmers feel too isolated and disconnected from the road. What exactly does that mean? What was it about the older models that felt more "connected"?
To me it's the nerve tingling feeling of the steering wheel, seat and your feet on the pedals - that transmits all feedback from the road.

You know exactly where the limits are and how far you can push. In the earlier models it told you when the rear end started to drift - so you could plan the drift.

The earlier 3's and especially my mid 80's RX7 provided all this direct feedback and more.

My current X3 does a pretty good job - but you are never quite sure when the electronics are compensating for loss of control.

The feeling I get with the more modern BMW's is that - they do an excellent job of safety and correcting situations - but they leave you wondering what the limit really is.

In other words I have this sneaking feeling that they are excellent up to the point of catastrophic total loss of control - which makes me a tad uneasy.

So the modern cars can't really be pushed as far as the older ones - even though they are amazingly safe technologically speaking.
 

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Desertnate said:
My parent's Buick is almost that bad... :eek:
Uggh have you driven the Chevy Malibu? You can turn the steering wheel 360 degrees with your little finger the steering is so soft.

BTW, if I wanted to try driving an E36 M3, where's the best place to find one to test drive? Could I just check my local BMW dealership to see if they have one on the used car lot? And being an M3 (even tho it's old) would they give me a hard time?
 
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