Comparison of M3 and 335i
As previously posted, I bought a Melb Red M3 in May and was not happy with the colour, so I did a deal to take it back and get an Alpine White one. The deal involved a timing issue though, as the AW one does not arrive until mid-Sept, but they wanted the MR one as of last Saturday, so they offered me a loan car in the interim. To my surprise, I was given a 335i loan car - I expected a lot worse (like an E36 3 series). So this is what I am driving for the next month or so.
So since last Saturday, I have been driving around in the 335i and it has been a good opportunity to compare it in detail with the M3.
I can sum it up by saying that the extra $80K or so for an M3 is absolutely worth every cent. The two cars may look similar to a non-BMW person and on paper the performance stats may not differ too much, but believe me, the differences are extremely obvious.
For a start, the build quality is so much better on the M3. It may be the fact that the 335i is a loaner but it has a lot of rattles and just feels "loose". The 335i has done 2000km and was built in May 09 so it can't be put down to age or mileage - but it is normally used as a demo car by the dealership.
The steering on the M3 is so much more responsive and sharp - the 335i has a lot of torque steer , feels heavy even at speed, and is not as precise.
The power on the 335i is good - it has a great take off and throttle response it quite sharp, but unlike the M3, it seems to run out of puff early on (at around 3500rpm). In other words, the 335i seems much less linear in its power delivery - this is typical of turbo cars though, something I have had a bit of experience with, as my previous rides were STi's, Golf GTi's and Evo's.
The handling and cornering of the 335i is also only average - good, but just doesn't have the feel of the M3. The cornering feels sloppier, has noticeable body roll and seems to understeer at times quite a lot.
The overall experience so far of the 335i is that it's not that much better as an overall experience than the series 5 Golf GTi I used to drive. The exhaust note is cheap and hollow sounding, which I thought was quite poor for a $100K plus car with what is supposed to be a superb engine.
I'm SOOOO glad I spent the extra $$ to get the M3.....