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      09-18-2007, 12:32 PM   #1
Jason
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Automobile Magazine online: First Drive: 2008 BMW M3

By Jason Cammisa





The 2008 BMW M3 is either a complete winner or a big disappointment. It all depends on your expectations.

If you're looking for a supremely fast, incredibly capable back-road stormer, you won't be disappointed; the E92 is even faster than the previous E46 M3.

If, however, you think the M3 should be more than just speed, you'll be disappointed. After only a few seconds behind the wheel, it becomes obvious that the M3's engineers traded some driver involvement in return for more speed.

More speed, in this case, comes from the retirement of the inline-six cylinder engine that has defined the previous two generations of M3s. As it turns out, there was no more power to be had from a block with six holes in it. The previous 3.2-liter developed 333 horsepower, and the only way to add more ponies would have been to add more displacement. That sounds easy enough, but it wasn't - the engine block was already bored to its maximum, and increasing the stroke would have reduced the engine's maximum RPM. Thus, the engineers had no choice but to add two more cylinders.






The new V-8 is anything but a half-hearted attempt at fixing the problem. It is, after all, based on the powerhouse V-10 from the M5. Whereas the old inline-six was iron, the V-engines' larger bore spacing allows them to be made of aluminum, and as a result, the V-8 actually weighs 33 lb less than the old six. We've covered the detailed engine specifications in previous stories, but the important numbers are very impressive: 4.0-liters, 414 horsepower, 295 lb-ft, 8400-rpm redline.

Press the start button, and the V-8 barks to life instantly with a tinny clatter from its thin-walled, equal-length headers. Eight individual butterflies minimize the distance between the throttle butterflies and intake valves, so the engine responds instantaneously to prods of the accelerator.

Though the clutch is a twin-disc design (the first in an M3), the pedal is soft and easy to modulate. The shifter is familiar 3-series, which is to say precise and satisfying, if slightly rubbery.

Mash the loud pedal, and the quiet V-8 turns into a screaming demon. Thrust builds gradually until 3900 rpm (the torque peak), but never falls off. In fact, the engine's note becomes more and more hysterical as the tach swings clockwise. From 6000 to the 8400-rpm rev limiter, it sounds angrier and more ferocious than any V-8 you've ever heard this side of Maranello. The soundtrack is nothing short of magic.





Thanks to our tester's Electronic Damper Control, ride quality is phenomenal. On Spain's smooth roads, it seems far more complaint than the previous M3's, and yet body motions are perfectly controlled. The new M3 understeers mildly, but that's easily fixed with a nudge of the right foot: in second gear, the rear will easily step out into a controlled power slide. In faster corners, lots of throttle induces gorgeous four-wheel drifts.

The biggest letdown - and it's a huge one - is the steering. Whereas other 3-series (and all previous M3s) read the road surface to your fingertips, the M3 is frustratingly numb on center. It transmits only the largest of messages, and effort is too light and doesn't build naturally. The ratio is wonderfully quick but, to add insult to injury, the M3's turning radius feels vastly larger than any other 3-series.





Brake feel is excellent, but pedal effort rose precipitously during lapping of the 26-turn Ascari racetrack in Spain despite aggressive (read: noisy) pads. Even though we had to pull into pit lane for a few minutes after each lap, brake fade set in after a few laps. The M3's hefty curb weight is to blame - we expect it to weigh more than 3,700 lb when it arrives stateside. And while BMW has gone to great lengths to keep curb weight down - the carbon fiber roof, a huge cost item, saves eleven pounds - the fact is that the M3 has gained almost a half ton in twenty years.

The list of 3-series parts redesigned and re-engineered for M3 use is staggering - the V-8 car shares surprisingly few parts with those with a six-cylinder under the hood. BMW isn't known for frivolous modifications, and all of the changes serve a performance purpose. Unfortunately, they seem to also dilute the driving experience. Once a direct, raw, and frenetic monster, the M3 has morphed into a polished and refined grand tourer.

The original M3 was a track-ready, high-strung performer that made no excuses in its performance. As fun in a 15-mph school zone as it was at ten-tenths on a race track, it dominated everything that came its way. And while it's likely that the new M3 is faster around the Nordschleife than its competitors, it's lost a good bit of the driver involvement that has made previous Ms legends.

At the end of the day, we don't just expect fast lap times from an M3, we expect it to put a big smile on our faces. And this time around, the smiles just aren't as big.

http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews...7_2008_bmw_m3/
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      09-18-2007, 12:44 PM   #2
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Good review. Thank you.
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      09-18-2007, 12:50 PM   #3
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This review seems familiar...
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      09-18-2007, 01:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epacy View Post
This review seems familiar...
Has it been posted? If so, I must have missed it. Do you have the link to the original thread? Thanks.
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      09-18-2007, 01:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Has it been posted? If so, I must have missed it. Do you have the link to the original thread? Thanks.
Yeah, I looked for it for a bit. I definately remember reading it though. Nonetheless, it isn't in your compiled list so it's good there.
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      09-18-2007, 01:11 PM   #6
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This is one of the reviews that set off all the original controversy and subsequent trolling and flame wars. I think it was either copied from print or scanned.
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      09-18-2007, 01:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Has it been posted? If so, I must have missed it. Do you have the link to the original thread? Thanks.
Since you're asking: http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72800
EDIT: That's e90post

Best regards, south
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      09-18-2007, 01:25 PM   #8
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Thanks South.
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      09-18-2007, 03:30 PM   #9
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Still looks like a winner. Steering feel is subjective and varies widely in the
tests listed in Jasons list.
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      09-18-2007, 06:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick berry View Post
Still looks like a winner. Steering feel is subjective and varies widely in the
tests listed in Jasons list.
no. steering feel is not "subjective" by any means. steering feel has nothing to do with magazine editors' "opinions". its a fact, much like 1/4 mile times, brake distances, and road grip. steering feel is the reason the M3 (and all BMW's for that matter) have dominated the luxury sport segment. and it's also the reason why infiniti and lexus and MB have all had to play second fiddle to BMW for years.

go drive an e30 and even an e46 feels numb. in turn, an e90 feels numb compared to an e46. the new m3 is no longer a dedicated track machine believe it or not. you have to configure the computer and memorize all these buttons to be able to get the best performance out of it. whereas any old M3 had none of these crazy electronic settings and drove great right out of the box. the same way for everyone.

screw these huge ass V8s and V10's. the N54 is amazing and even better would be a turbocharged inline 4 that weighs 2000lbs, much like the 2002ti. or maybe even a hatchback 135i. oh wait, they don't want to make either of those because all Americans want are 8000lb 500hp pigs loaded with useless technology and chinky headlights to show off to their faggy yuppie friends. thanks, you can have your crap, i'll stick with my balls to the walls e30 without A/C.

the 3 series has grown in every year and this is no exception. however, this time, it seems that this car has crossed the line with the wheelbase and weight. its no longer marketed to the sport enthusiast. the god damn car is HUGE. who needs a V8? the old engine was basically perfect. like the article said, now the M3 is just another refined GT. the e30, e36, and e46 m3's will go down in history as the best M3's ever built. current demand for technology has diluted the brand, sorry to say.

and PS the only thing really subjective about cars is looks / interior.
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      09-18-2007, 06:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epacy View Post
This review seems familiar...
Quote:
Originally Posted by southlight View Post
Since you're asking: http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72800
EDIT: That's e90post

Best regards, south
I see that you guys are being nice to the admin by not going like you normally would!
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      09-18-2007, 07:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
I see that you guys are being nice to the admin by not going like you normally would!
Very funny. How'd I know someone would bring that up? Much less a trusted colleague like you!

I knew the text was familiar to my brain. Just had to find it for sure.
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      09-18-2007, 07:26 PM   #13
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It was a joke E.
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      09-18-2007, 07:41 PM   #14
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It was a joke E.
No, it was a very good joke.

I knew it was, that is why I said "very funny".

<note to self....next time use more smilies>
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      09-18-2007, 07:44 PM   #15
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OK fine, I'll do it then............



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      09-18-2007, 07:58 PM   #16
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Bitter much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by herbz View Post
no. steering feel is not "subjective" by any means. steering feel has nothing to do with magazine editors' "opinions". its a fact, much like 1/4 mile times, brake distances, and road grip. steering feel is the reason the M3 (and all BMW's for that matter) have dominated the luxury sport segment. and it's also the reason why infiniti and lexus and MB have all had to play second fiddle to BMW for years.

go drive an e30 and even an e46 feels numb. in turn, an e90 feels numb compared to an e46. the new m3 is no longer a dedicated track machine believe it or not. you have to configure the computer and memorize all these buttons to be able to get the best performance out of it. whereas any old M3 had none of these crazy electronic settings and drove great right out of the box. the same way for everyone.

screw these huge ass V8s and V10's. the N54 is amazing and even better would be a turbocharged inline 4 that weighs 2000lbs, much like the 2002ti. or maybe even a hatchback 135i. oh wait, they don't want to make either of those because all Americans want are 8000lb 500hp pigs loaded with useless technology and chinky headlights to show off to their faggy yuppie friends. thanks, you can have your crap, i'll stick with my balls to the walls e30 without A/C.

the 3 series has grown in every year and this is no exception. however, this time, it seems that this car has crossed the line with the wheelbase and weight. its no longer marketed to the sport enthusiast. the god damn car is HUGE. who needs a V8? the old engine was basically perfect. like the article said, now the M3 is just another refined GT. the e30, e36, and e46 m3's will go down in history as the best M3's ever built. current demand for technology has diluted the brand, sorry to say.

and PS the only thing really subjective about cars is looks / interior.
Until you can point to a test method that ranks steering feel with a numerical value I'd tend to disagree on feel being subjective. What is the number?

I am not so sure why you are so opposed to customization. What is fundamentally wrong about a car that can be stiffened up for track days and put in "GT" mode for dealing with expansion joint and pothole ridden freeways and local roads. I think you can do this to some extent with adjustable coil overs. Maybe you are just a glutton for punishment. I prefer the instant gratification (single button push) over the hours of jacking and wrenching myself. Seems like an absolute winner to me and quite difficult to argue against.

The M3 never has been and never will be a dedicated track machine as you like to call it. I think one of the few production cars that fits this description literally is a Lotus Elise/Exige. Other than that all sports and sporty cars are simply street cars that have varying degrees of track worthiness. That being said you can certainly say that a particular car is more GT and less track and it is clear that it the way the M3 is going. If you hate it, feel free to stick with whatever version of the M3 you like. They all have +s and -s. All that being said the new car is likely to own the lap time of an E30 around all but the absolute tightest of tracks. Well that is only if you call a substantial win in time, distance and speed "owning".

Hmmm what else... A 4 liter V8 that is shorter and lighter than the outgoing I6 isn't exactly a "huge ass" V8 is it? Perhaps the 6-7 liter Vette and AMG motors qualify as such, but they too are awfully light weight as well.

I think you claiming that the new M3 is not marketed to the sports enthusiast is incorrect. Perhaps we disagree on what that term means. If you mean a person who wants to race on a shoe string budget then no the new M3 is not really for them. A used E30 M3 would be perfect. However, that being said, the new E30 M3 back in its heyday was not exactly cheap either was it?

The old E46 M3 engine was hardly perfect. It was totally maxed out on bore size and bore spacing and its piston speeds were down right scary. Not exactly the kind of speeds that promote long engine life and reliability.

Last but not least, I find your "faggie" term offensive and discriminatory. I do not think it has any place on this board.
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      09-18-2007, 07:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epacy View Post
No, it was a very good joke.

I knew it was, that is why I said "very funny".

<note to self....next time use more smilies>
Cool. See, during the confusion MI6 beat everyone to it!
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      09-18-2007, 08:27 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I am not so sure why you are so opposed to customization.
Anyone seen the Direct TV Sunday Ticket commercials with the old guy yelling at you about getting to choose what game you want to watch?
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