(See below for my original post if you want to compare it to this update)
So I have had my '13 E93 M3 for over 4 months now and, while I only have around 1,300 miles on the odometer, I think it's an appropriate time to post a follow up of my impressions, as I have had the car long enough now to give everyone an update and I know people have been waiting for my further impressions. I actually drive the car every day but I typically only go a total of 5-10 miles. I hope everything below is helpful for those considering going from E46 M3 Convertible to an E93 M3 Convertible. For what it's worth, I have driven MANY cars over the years and I actually worked at Toyota Headquarters and GM Headquarters, so I have a lot of experience when it comes to driving, feel, etc.
UPDATE - Overall Impressions
- 4 months later and I just had my 1,200 mile service done 3 weeks ago. I can now say that I really like the car but ONLY for 1 reason: I performed an OEM Exhaust Mod (non-perforated pipes) 2 weeks ago and that literally changed my opinion from not liking the driving experience that much to really liking the driving experience and enjoying every minute with it, which is really how it should be. The additional exhaust noise up to 3k RPMs is EXACTLY what I needed to feel connected to the car. I can now hear all of the rev notes of the engine and really feel like I am driving it, whereas before it was so quiet that it almost felt like I was driving a refined Lexus, at least compared to the E46 M3 Convertible with the soft top. I am no longer complaining about the car not being "raw" enough, as the exhaust mod cleared that up. The OEM Exhaust Mod is not for everyone, especially for those considering a convertible, so be sure to consider the Pros/Cons before going ahead with the mod. Here's my thread that discusses the Pros/Cons of the OEM Exhaust Mod (non-perforated) for convertibles: http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=783957
- While I now really like the car, thanks solely to the OEM Exhaust Mod, there are still some aspects that are clearly better in the E46 M3 Convertible, including the steering feel and general "feeling connected to the road + feedback". This car just isn't as precise as my old E46 M3 Convertible. It's not bad but it's just not great. Many others seem to be ok with the steering on this car so perhaps it's just me or perhaps it's because the steering on the E46 M3 Convertible was just so good!
- It's really nice to have an entire step up terms of interior refinement and quality compared to the E46 M3 Convertible. The iDrive is very easy to use and the materials are definitely a good notch up. You notice it as soon as you sit in the E93 and it's a nice plus.
- OVERALL - I would say that with the new OEM Exhaust Mod I now like the car as much as the E46 M3 Convertible. Do I think it's the better total driver's package of the 2? No, as it isn't as precise, as light, or as connected as the E46 M3 Convertible. But it's MUCH faster, the exhaust note is now exotic and fantastic, and it's a great driving experience. If you want the old school M car that is lighter, more raw, more connected, and less refined, then clearly the E46 M3 Convertible is the winner. If you want the faster, more refined, and still fun to drive car, then the E93 M3 Convertible is the winner BUT ONLY if you modify the exhaust. If the E93 was lighter and had better tuned steering then I would probably like it a lot more and I would be happier with it. If I didn't modify my exhaust then I suspect the E46 M3 Convertible would be my hands down winner... It's worth noting that all of my E46 M3 Convertible (3 total - 1 manual and 2 SMG) were stock and I have never modified a car before.
Pros of E93 M3 Convertible (with OEM Exhaust Mod) vs E46 M3 Convertible (stock)
- Much faster (very big difference - feels like a good second quicker 0-60)
- Car is as fun to drive with OEM Exhaust Mod as E46 M3 Convertible and has a MUCH better exhaust tone/note - It sounds exotic!
- Adjustable suspension makes longer commutes easier than the harsh E46 M3 Convertible suspension
- DCT is a better experience once you get used to it (and I used to love SMG)
- Interior is a big step up in terms of refinement
- iDrive is easy to use and has a great screen in the sun
- Fantastic downshift "blips" when in S4 or S5 (if you're in the right mood!)
- Premium stereo is a notch up compared to the Harmon Kardon system in the E46 M3 Convertible
- Keyless Entry (doors/trunk) is a nice feature that I never knew I would like until I had it
- Reduced noise on highway thanks to hard top is nice on longer trips
Cons of E93 M3 Convertible (with OEM Exhaust Mod) vs E46 M3 Convertible (stock)
- DCT is harder to engage in first (requires a little pedal modulation vs SMG's more fluid launch)
- Steering isn't as precise and the additional weight can be felt on hard turns
- Engine doesn't rev as freely as my E46 M3 Convertible - it's more restricted. And it's a LOT more restricted than a non-broken in M6 coupe (2013) that I recently tried.
- Doesn't feel as connected to the road
- Additional weight definitely has a negative impact on the overall driving experience compared to the E46 M3 Convertible
- Turning radius is much worse (minor point but is annoying at times)
- Trunk space/design is a joke with roof down and access to items in trunk with latch down is horrible
- The modified exhaust is definitely a little loud with the roof down, which is why I'm not sure the mod is suitable for everyone. See my thread for more details/thoughts: http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=783957
- My previous M3s had Michelins - I now have Continentals. The Contis suck! I realize this is the luck of the draw but it's still worth noting...
All I cay say is boy I am glad the OEM Exhaust Mod exists, as it turned my upgrade to the E93 from disappointing to very happy. It cost me $350 (which I understand is on the high side) and I can't imagine spending better money on this car. I fully understand why everyone is so happy with the mod. You absolutely need to experience it in-person if you're considering it.
As you can see, the E93 is not a clear winner so it's important to consider all aspects before making the leap. I think an extended test drive is a good bet, as the car hasn't grown on me over time, with the exception of the OEM Exhaust Mod. I'm glad I like the car a LOT more than before the OEM Exhaust Mod and I hope this update is helpful. Feel free to ask questions, as I'm glad to help.
Originally Posted by jeremyr4
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.