Dinan Stage 3 vs. M3 (I've owned both, here's the comparison)
Almost two months ago, I traded in my 2009 Dinan Stage 3 335i Coupe for a 2011 DCT ZCP M3 Coupe. Both cars were loaded with virtually every option available, so this should be an even comparison. Also, for reference, both cars were black / black with aluminum trim (though the M3s black is slightly more blue and the M3s aluminum trim seems higher quality and less shiny).
335i mods (I paid right at $10k for the parts plus labor): Dinan CAI, Dinan Intercooler, Dinan Pedals, Dinan Stage 3 Software, and Dinan Oil Cooler.
M3 mods: BMW Performance Aluminum Pedals (I hate stock rubber pedals).
Handling/Suspension – We’ll get this one out of the way first. The Dinan 3 was a stock 335i as far as suspension components go and it still had the run flat tires. This was in no way a fair fight. The M3 absolutely destroys the Dinan 3 in cornering (which is much crisper in the M3) and suspension. I remember in the Dinan 3 when I’d hit a bump in the road, I’d lose traction and in some cases slide a bit. I would also feel the suspension give and it would take a second to recover. The M3 recovers instantly when it hits a bump and there is no sliding or feeling of “bounce”. I’m not sure what the proper term is, but the M3 stays glued to the road and inspires much more confidence.
Looks/feel – The Dinan 3 was sleeker (only the Dinan badge even hinted toward what it could do), but I prefer the sports car / performance car look of the M3 with the hood scoops, side vent, and other slight features. Also, the leather in the M3 is a very different leather and I much prefer it. It just feels like a more expensive car. I’m pretty sure most people notice zero difference between the cars. I don’t think my girlfriend would have even noticed it was a new car if I didn’t tell her. I do get many more looks from other guys, though. I also have gotten a few compliments at stoplights and such – for example, the other night a girl asked me to roll down my window at a stoplight to tell me I had an awesome car.
Acceleration – I used the Dynolicious Utility on my iPhone to compare the cars. Here is the best run from each. I don’t think it’s accurate at all given the stats, but it’s really the only objective data that I have. The full stats from the best run of each is at the bottom of this post as an appendix.
The M3 did 0-60 in 4.9 seconds compared to 5.9 for the Dinan 3 and each did the 330 feet around 64 mph (64.7mph for the M3 versus 63.5mph for the Dinan 3), but the M3 did it about a second quicker (5.81 seconds to 6.74 seconds). Given this data under similar conditions, I assume both cars have about the same acceleration given likely traction issues with the Dinan (I had horrible traction problems with that car). I’d give a slight edge to the M3 in terms of numbers, but numbers don’t tell the entire story, so let’s look at the subjective aspect of the cars.
The Dinan 3 had instant torque no matter where you punched it on the rev meter. It would throw you back in the seat, and then throw you back in the seat some more. It just felt fast. The M3 on the other hand, can only throw you back in a similar manner if you punch it in just the right circumstances (shift points which I’m learning as I go along). The difference is that the M3 seems like it never stops pulling. I would liken it like this – the Dinan 3 pulls hard and then even harder for a short period of time whereas the M3 pulls moderately but then never stops.
Before anyone comes in and says Dinan Stage 3 is an inferior tune, please note that the car ran very even with a 335 with Cobb software and Stage 3 performance mods. The Dinan seemed to have slightly more low end and the Cobb seemed to have slightly more top end.
Conclusion – I understand academically that the HP delivery method of the M3 is actually probably superior overall and that it’s likely just a bit faster than the Dinan, but I still preferred the power delivery of the Dinan. I’m not a street racer, so a tenth of a second or two in the ¼ mile doesn’t matter to me. What does matter to me is smooth power delivery, acceleration, handling, looks, and prestige. What the M3 lacks in torque, it makes up for in fun-factor with handling, suspension, and still great speed. I may just need to get used to the high revving engine, as I haven’t had one of those since I traded my 2000 Honda Prelude in over 5 years ago.
With that in mind, I’m extremely happy that I moved up to an M3, but I wish I would have just bought one to start with instead of messing with the Dinan upgrades. I think my next car will be turbo’ed or supercharged, however, as I prefer the torqey power delivery mechanism to the high revving engine.
Appendix: Full Dynolicious stats
Dinan 3 – 0-10: 1.37s; 0-20: 2.18s; 0-30: 2.87s; 0-40: 3.84s; 0-50: 4.77s; 0-60: 5.92s; 60 feet: 3.09s @ 30.1mph; 330 feet: 6.74s @63.5mph; Max Acceleration: 0.69 G’s; Peak HP: 251
M3 – 0-10: 0.53s; 0-20: 1.35s; 0-30: 2.01s; 0-40: 2.80s; 0-50: 3.74s; 0-60: 4.90s; 0-70: 6.36s; 0-80: 8.00s; 60 feet: 2.27s @ 30.8mph; 330 feet: 5.81s @ 64.7mph; 1/8 mile: 8.78s @ 83.1mph; Max Acceleration: 0.71 G’s; Peak HP: 270
Last edited by nirvanayoda; 05-23-2011 at 03:46 PM.