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      02-18-2008, 02:50 PM   #1
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Drives: F80 M3
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Review and photos of M3 coupe from The Ultimate Drive event

from 6MTGirl

A lot of people have been asking for pictures in other threads, so I thought I would share a few from the annual BMW Ultimate Drive. It kicked off this past week in South Florida where the E92 M3 and X6 made their US debut. While the X6 was sitting in the showroom as a signature vehicle, the M3 was available for test drives, and what a test drive that was! After the event at Braman Motors Miami, 25 of us participated in the vehicle transport to the next stop of the event in Naples.

I am horrible at writing reviews, but here are my quick impressions after spending 30 min in the car and being around it all day. My first reaction: this car isn't as big as appears in the pictures. The exterior still has a little growing on me to do, but looks are subjective. The rear fender flares are almost non-existent, while the front ones are quite wide - but 350Z wide - not as defined and muscular as they are on the E46. I think the car would look great in darker colors because they seem to make the big front cooling ducts less pronounced. The wheel offsets aren't as aggressive as I hoped and the paint on the OEM 18's seems pretty fragile (it was chipping already with 1,100 miles on the odo). Other than that, the car looks quite impressive in person. I actually happen to like the back end sans the oversize muffler. That would be the first thing I would address because, much like the M5, the exhaust sound is barely audible inside the cabin.

The E92 doesn't look, feel, or drive like a big car. I was expecting something in between a boat and a tank, only to find out how well it hides its weight. Compared to the E46 M3 it has lost a lot of edginess, but refinement and smoothness are on a whole new level. The seats are unbelievably comfortable, headroom is abundant compared to the E46, and there are more creature comforts available than I can ever possibly need in a car.

It still drives like an M car, but more so like a smaller M5. The clutch, shifter, and steering all felt disappointingly light. Both the clutch and throttle are very sensitive to driver inputs. The servotronic steering has to always be in "Sport" mode to provide any kind of steering feedback. The brakes felt great, without having had a chance to slam on them from 150mph. The car is geared for highway driving, 3 through 6 are very tall. Even as a diehard manual driver I'd be very inclined to get M-DCT because I wasn't blown away by the 6MT. The E92 is considerably torquier than the E46 and power delivery is outstandingly smooth... so smooth it doesn't feel fast until you look at the speedo.

The car feels very solid and confidence-inspiring, very planted to the road. EDC is superb, on the softest EDC setting it really drives like a Cadillac. Coming from a GC-equipped E46 M3, the handling really impressed me once I got to take the car out to a twisty back road off of I395. Body roll is minimal with EDC set to stiff. That being said, I probably wouldn't opt for it. There is so much gadgetry fitted into the E92 already, if I bought one I wouldn't want one of those maintenance nightmares once out of warranty.

Gas mileage won't exactly be a selling point. The car went through 1/2 tank in exactly 130 miles while being transported from Miami to Naples (or ~15.6mpg all highway... provided, um, that the speed limit might have been exceeded a couple of times). The car was driven by another member on here, he can add tons more to my review since he got to spend a lot more time driving the car.

All in all, the new M3 is the grown up GT that the E46 never was. It's a night-and-day different driving experience and doesn't share much with its predecessor other than the name. It is a brilliant car on so many different levels, it is that the M letter stands for Microsoft and not so much for Motorsport these days... natural evolution I guess. If the E92 CSL makes it state-side, that would be a whole different story...


Originally Posted by SCBMW02 View Post
Interesting comments on the new M3, here are mine. I spent 3 days last Oct driving the new car on the Nurbergring F1 track and got to take a ride on the 13 mile Nordschleife with one of the instructors at speed. (yes you do go airborne at phlantzgarten!)I have owned an E36 and E46 M3 and have driven both on the track. Let me just say this car blows them away in every way! Have you seen the numbers from Road and Track? 0-60 4.1 / 1/4 Mi 12.5 / Grip 0.98g

Forget what you might think about weight, this car feels much lighter than the E46. We did numerous exercises with the car including a ton of hot laps. Understeer? Forget it .You can toss this thing with ease. We did some autocross type drills and this car is balanced and changes directions with a flick of the wheel. Acceleration is brutal and braking is typical M3. Steering may have been a tad light, but I think it is overblown and you won't notice it 99% of the time. One tidbit, the German guys like to run the normal suspension mode because that adapts to changing loads, whereas in sport setting it is fixed which may not be the right setup for every section of track. You will have to play with it and set the M Drive for what you like best.

Don't know how many of you have heard this thing in person at speed, but believe me you won't be disappointed! Not a GM v8, but more F1 or GTR. I am sure there will be aftermarket systems for those that need to draw even more attention (I had a Borla on my E46)

I thought the 46 was as good looking as it gets, but that really looks dated next to this. Obviously this is subjective, but in person everything is just right. The fenders are flared just like the 46. I would like a different style wheel and probably will look to change this as I did with the E46.
Seats are great and I never felt like I was coming out of it even in the 140mph sweeper on the back straight. Much more headroom, htough this is probably because there is no sunroof.

Bottom line. This thing is sick, much more of a sports car than the E46. It is quite simply the perfect GT. Already ordered mine. Hope this was informative.

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