Drives: '13 E93 M3
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: West Los Angeles
My Impressions - From 2006 E46 M3 Convertible to 2013 E93 M3 Convertible
I just picked up a new 2013 E93 M3 Convertible over the weekend and I was VERY sad to see my E46 M3 Convertible go. My car had only 34k miles and was mint, fully loaded, and my favorite color combo: Silver Gray / Black. I didn't want to keep my old car any longer, as my Inspection II was due in 500 miles and I was worried about some other potentially expensive maintenance.
Letting go of my E46 M3 Convertible was literally a gut wrenching experience for me, as I loved the car. I was lucky enough to own 3 of them (01, 04, 06), the last two of which had SMG. So I know that model extremely well and it was clearly the end of an era for me. I am writing this quick review to help others who might be in the same boat, as I was worried that I was going to lose the "raw" feeling of my E46 to a more refined E93, which would essentially equate to a less fun day-to-day driving experience as a DD.
With that in mind, here are my Pros / Cons of my new E93 after only a few days of owning it. In all fairness, I am still in the break-in period but I don't think the experience is going to change that much (except for when I floor the car), as I have still been driving pretty aggressively, with most of my shifts at around 3.5-4.5k RPMs.
Anyhow, if you're thinking about moving from an E46 M3 Convertible to an E93 M3 Convertible and you like the "rawness" of the E46 then I'm hoping this Pros / Cons list will help:
Pros of E93 M3 vs E46 M3 Convertible
- Faster. The E93 is clearly faster, both statistically and thanks to its torque. It also seems to rev through the RPMs more quickly, which also seems to help. The acceleration feel reminds me very much of a 996 Turbo, in that it needs to get up to 2500 RPMs to really kick in but is VERY fast after that.
- Engine noise is fantastic, ESPECIALLY with the roof down. The V8 is an amazing sound, even more so when the roof is down. I find myself taking the car for a spin every night because of the engine noise, which is a big plus compared to the E46.
- Engine is truly special. Hard to put this in words but you would understand if you spent 60+ mins driving an E93. This engine feels special and exotic compared to the E46. I wasn't expecting that and it's certainly a great thing.
- More fun to drive with the roof down. This is one of the biggest positive surprises for me. I find this car is more fun to drive with the roof down, due to the amazing engine noise + exhaust compared to the E46.
- More refined suspension. This is definitely a Pro in certain situations, as the clear is clearly smoother than the E46.
- Nicer Interior - The interior is a clear and huge step up compared to the E46 in terms of refinement. The iDrive, while complicated, is also clearly better than the E46 Nav.
- Configurable - Being able to set the steering, suspension, Sport, etc is really great (I have EDC).
- Nav/Radio/Tech - All big improvements (ie. newer tech) than the E46, although the iDrive is a little complicated (overly complicated if you only do a few things on a regular basis, like listen to radio + Sat radio). Also, the Enhanced Premium Sound is better than the Harman Kardon in the E46 (although not by a huge margin but still noticeable).
- Smoother transmission - DCT is obviously much smoother than SMG, which can be nice in certain circumstances (ie. traffic).
- Hardtop look and noise reduction - These are both pluses and are clear improvements over the E46.
Cons of E93 M3 vs E46 M3 Convertible
- Loss of road feel and being connected to the car - This is my biggest complaint and is clearly a product of evolution over time. The E93 is more refined, which means that you don't feel the same level of road feel in the steering wheels and you're not quite as connected to the engine as your are in the E46 (at least in less spirited driving). The best comparison I can come up with is the difference between driving a 911 Carrera and a 911 GT3. If you've driven both then you'll probably understand. This is the feature I miss most from my E46 and unfortunately it's the end of an era. Of course, people who owned the E36 have the same complaint about the E46, so this is not surprising.
- Need to drive it in Sport or Sport Plus for a really engaging drive - When I first test drove the E93 I feel like it wasn't very engaging at all. Then I realized the key to the car is to keep it in Sport or Sport Plus. The reason being is that the first 2500 RPMs are VERY flat - almost like turbo lag - especially with the DCT transmission. The great thing about using Sport Plus is that the throttle is so sensitive that you're up into the 2500+ range in no time, which is where this car really likes to be. Because it's not that engaging in Normal power mode, I always drive it in Sport Plus (or at least mostly) and that really changes the character of the car. Some have also said they think it's a little louder in Sport Plus and I agree...
- Not as fun to drive with the roof up - While I like the E93 better than the E46 with the roof down, I think the E46 was more fun with the roof up because there was less sound proofing so you can hear the engine better in the E46, especially at lower RPMs. This is my second biggest gripe about the E93 after the one above. All of that being said, driving in Sport Plus does help to make the car more fun with the roof up :-)
- DCT too smooth! As an enthusiast, I appreciate the speed of the DCT shifts but I find it too smooth and not involving enough. That's coming from someone who actually LIKED SMG - I am one of only few people that I know who liked it - because it made me feel very connected to the car.
- Heavier and a little bigger - You can definitely feel both of these when cornering and I think it's exacerbated by the reduction of road feel. But the E93 clearly feels heavier and bigger than the E46. My E46 feel extremely nimble and this feels less nimble (although still more nimble than an E60 M6 Convertible).
- Brakes. Speaking of heavier and bigger, the braking distance seems to be noticeably longer in the E93, I'm guessing due to the increased weight. I really liked the brakes on the E46 - they were very impressive. Hopefully my E93 brakes will "break-in" and improve over time.
- Tire noise at highway speeds (Contis) - Like I have read in some F10 M5 reviews, the tire noise at highway speeds is MUCH worse than I expected. I have no idea whether it's the Contis (I used to have Michelin Pilot Super Sports on my E46) but it's quite annoying.
- Truck space/design - Clearly the cover that in the truck that houses the roof is annoying and makes the car a little less practical with the roof down.
Final Conclusion: The E93 is no doubt an improvement in pretty much every aspect of typical car evolution - It's more refined, much nicer inside, has better tech, is more configurable, and is faster than the E46. But all of these improvements definitely come at the expense losing road feel and rawness in general, which is a tough pill to swallow for an enthusiast.
The engine in this is car is really special. Notice that I said the engine very specifically. I think the E46 as a CAR is very special, while the E93's engine is very special. I bonded with my E46 and felt like I was one with my machine. I expect to bond with the E93's engine (and I have to a large extent already bonded with it) but I doubt I will ever bond with the E93's steering. The E93's suspension and steering are ok but not special, as you're much more disconnected from them compared to an E46. For example, the E46's steering feel is much more communicative from the road and is really dead on, while the E93's steering in Sport mode is VERY good but lacks that additional level of communication.
As a final note, I do think the engine in the E93 is so special and really at a much higher level compared to the E46 that it will probably outweigh the lack of communication in the E93 vs the E46. I would HIGHLY recommend that you try this car in Sport Plus if you're considering one, as it really changes its personality entirely compared to Normal power mode. I guess the best way to describe it is that the E93 is already making me grin (BUT ONLY when I push it and/or in Sport Plus) more than my E46, while the E46 satisfied me even at very low RPMs. So I will very much miss my E46 in general, as it was a better car in some ways, especially in terms of road feel, but the M Buttom + Sport Plus will probably keep me satisfied and happy until the next gen M3 comes out, as long as I'm willing to keep it above 2500 RPMs! I clearly still have mixed emotions about trading up to the E93 and I'm hoping they will go away with time...
I hope this helped those who are considering making the move. Feel free to PM me if you have any additional questions, as I would be glad to help.