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      08-18-2010, 10:53 AM   #1
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E92 M3 GTS, E30 M3 Sport Evo, or E46 M3 CSL. CAR Magazine Takes Its Pick.

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Just spotted this article on CAR Magazine website.

BMW M3 GTS, CSL, Sport Evo – which is the greatest M3?
By Ben Barry


18 August 2010 15:15

The BMW M3 GTS is a car of superlatives. It is the fastest, most powerful, most track-focussed, most expensive M3 ever, a two-fingered salute to the critics who said the M Division had lost its way after SUV-gate.

So what makes the new BMW M3 GTS so good?

The spec tells you it’s a serious car: the 3999cc V8 grows to 4361cc thanks to a longer stroke; the seven-speed dual clutcher is now standard and is re-mapped to suit the revised powertrain; the interior is stripped; the rear suspension subframe solidly mounted to the body; the single-piston brakes replaced by six-pot front and four-pot rears. See those wheel studs? A stock M3 doesn’t have studs, it has bolts. Studs make it easier to whip wheels on and off, when, say, you’re smoking a couple of sets of rears per day at the track. It’s a little touch, but, just like an MPV’s proliferation of cubby holes, one that speaks volumes about its intended use: this is a serious car for serious drivers.

Okay, but how does it compare with previous über-M3s, and how does it move the game on versus the most focussed new M3 that doesn’t wear the GTS badge – the Competition Pack?

Now, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of arguments about this, but for me the GTS’s key in-house benchmarks from previous generations are the E30 Sport Evo and the E46 M3 CSL. No E36s? No. We could have included the E36 M3 Lightweight, but that was North American-only, and therefore featured the lower-power US engine – we’d sooner have a Euro engine. We could have dropped in the E36 M3 R, but these were Aussie-only and essentially built for a race series. Dismissed. Perhaps we could have chosen the left-hand drive E36 M3 GT. Mmm, not quite hardcore enough in this company, but a great car nonetheless. Ah, the perils of an M3 greatest hits – feel free to grumble in the comments section below!

BMW M3 Sport Evo (E30)

The E30 feels positively pedestrian compared with the new M3, but its responses still sparkle with clarity when you drive it hard on track. It steers beautifully, and you have to be either highly clumsy or wilfully wayward to make the old timer under- or oversteer. Great visibility, comfortable Recaros, lovely car. That dog-leg gearbox takes some getting used to, though, the steering ratio could be quicker, and the engine is horribly coarse compared with the stuff we’re used to these days. The step from regular E30 to Sport Evo doesn’t transform the M3 experience in the same way that the step up to CSL or GTS does – it’s really much the same, apart from the engine – but the Sport Evo definitely deserves its best-E30-ever tag, and the changes were genuinely needed – unlike anything else we’re dealing with here – to keep the M3 at the cutting edge of motorsport, hence the wilder adjustable wings and wider front arches.

BMW M3 GTS (E92)


Next we’re bang up to date: the GTS. I slip in the Recaro bucket seat, and queue up in the Ascari circuit’s pitlane on a boiling hot day. Shame this car goes with the no air-con spec that comes as standard in GTS trim – I’m sweltering before I’ve driven a metre, and I’m not hardcore enough to make sweating profusely through a trackday worth the kilos saved. Elsewhere it’s all very civilised though – the seats are still comfortable, the rollcage is all behind you, what was the rear seating area is trimmed neatly, and the trim up front is pretty much as you’d find it in any other M3, bar the deletion of the stereo, the addition of carbon trim, a suedey steering wheel, and some simpler climate controls.

Drive it hard and you notice how much angrier and louder the GTS is (it sounds great) than the standard M3, and you really notice the benefits brought about by that larger engine and weight loss, even though the spec says you’re lugging just 70kg less and pushing 30bhp more – this M3 feels both ultimately far faster than a regular M3, and far torquier low down too. The weight loss and stiffer suspension (just the one fixed-rate here – adaptive dampers aren’t available) helps the immediacy of direction changes, the steering feels sweeter and more direct and the front and rear ends stick far more convincingly, meaning you can get on the power earlier and not worry about the front washing wide or the rears spinning up as you do with the Competition Pack – thank the stickier rubber for that. Can’t say I noticed any difference with the DCT transmission, though – it just feels as instantaneous as ever. And while the brakes felt incredibly strong, we weren’t allowed to do enough laps to really test their endurance.

When you drive a standard M3 on track – even the Competition Pack – it takes a short while to recalibrate your expectations, to realise that you have to be patient with the power, to manage the body roll, to cut through the layer of detachment that’s a by-product of the car’s all-round refinement. The GTS simply feels like you want an M3 to feel on track – sharp, lither, more responsive, harder, quicker.

BMW M3 CSL (E46)

But, you know what, an E46 CSL feels more immediate and more pointy than a new M3 too. It also has a great big angry soundtrack. The SMG transmission might be off the pace these days, but the CSL is still a very, very satisfying track toy – and you’ll get a surefire classic for around £25k.

But what really bothers me is that the CSL feels more bespoke than the GTS, its modifications more thoroughly wrought. You can see it in the bodywork: the entirely different front bumper, bootlid and carbon roof – M3s didn’t all have carbon roofs back then, remember. Inside you see it with the completely reworked interior trim, feel it in the heavily revised suspension. It loses more weight than the GTS – around 100kg – and gains 17bhp. Both driving experiences are similarly transformed versus the cars they’re based on, but where the CSL was around 50% more expensive (and crucified for it at the time), the GTS will likely be more than 100% more expensive than a regular M3. Around £120k is a lot of dough, and the CSL – thanks to its rear seats – is far more useable as a daily driver.
Which is the best BMW M3 ever?

Much as I absolutely adored driving the GTS, I left the launch feeling that – engine aside – the car’s concept was less convincing than the CSL, that M’s approach had far more in common with a very serious trackday DIY project than a motorsport powerhouse. It feels like a quick riposte to the naysayers, rather than something that was part of the M3 product plan from the beginning. What would you do if you wanted a hardcore new M3 track toy? You’d buy an early car for £30k, strip it, add a cage, drop in some Recaros, fit six-pot brakes, stiffen the suspension, maybe tack on a rear spoiler. You’d struggle to spend £50k in total. Yet that, essentially, is what we’ve got here.

The M3 GTS is a great car – that is absolutely beyond question – but it’s also one that struggles to justify its extremely high price tag.


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THE LINK TO FULL ARTICLE

http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Drives/...t-ever-BMW-M3/


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      08-18-2010, 11:17 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Croatian View Post
Now, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of arguments about this, but for me the GTS’s key in-house benchmarks from previous generations are the E30 Sport Evo and the E46 M3 CSL.
The road going E46 M3 GTR would make a great comparison too, if only it were not crafted from pure Unobtainium 266.

Good read, BTW. Thanks for posting.
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      08-18-2010, 12:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Croatian View Post
The BMW M3 GTS is a car of superlatives.
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      08-18-2010, 04:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkoesel View Post
The road going E46 M3 GTR would make a great comparison too, if only it were not crafted from pure Unobtainium 266.

Good read, BTW. Thanks for posting.
You are welcome, I loved this article. Actually I wish to thank the bimmerpost administrator who made the pictures bigger (I was not able to post them in this size) and who actually posted the whole article and made it look much nicer than my original post.
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      08-18-2010, 04:18 PM   #5
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Remember seeing one e46 CSL for the first time in Vienna at a small gas station, was so amazed I ended up following the guy to see the car in a somewhat action. A year ago saw one at the shop and asked whether it was for sale to which I got a very clear answer: No. It is by far my favourite, I drooled over it at the Munich museum as well.
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      08-18-2010, 04:38 PM   #6
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E46 CSL or gtfo
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      08-18-2010, 08:14 PM   #7
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i agree with everything. you can just look at the gts interior and clearly see more like an aftermarket modification than factory mod like the csl.
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      08-18-2010, 08:37 PM   #8
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Awesome read! I remember taking a trip with my family touring Europe in 2005 and talking with my brothers about all the cars we may see that aren't sold in the US. Jokingly, I was saying, "what if we saw a CSL!" We all knew that seemed unlikely considering how rare the car is. During our trip, we were in Switzerland about to board our tour bus. My brother had the camera and I look down the street and I couldn't believe my eyes that I was looking at a CSL coming towards us. I remember almost screaming to my brother, "THERE IS A CSL COMING TOWARDS US!!" I was so excited for that one moment. It funny how my most fond memory of Europe is spotting the CSL.

here are the 2 pics we were able to grab (you may have possibly seen these pictures on the bimmerfest forums before haha)



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      08-18-2010, 09:23 PM   #9
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^Lake Como? I fell in love with that place after watching Ocean's 12. The scenery was meant for a BMW.
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      08-18-2010, 09:35 PM   #10
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e46 M3 CSL hands down - best M3 ever
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      08-18-2010, 09:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyBananaz18 View Post
^Lake Como? I fell in love with that place after watching Ocean's 12. The scenery was meant for a BMW.
I'm not sure but another person told us that the location is probably Lago Maggiore in Ticino (Tessin) (Southern Switzerland, the Italian-speaking part). Sadly I don't know if that is the same place =P
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      08-18-2010, 10:01 PM   #12
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regardless, you're never too far from a McDonalds (background of the 2nd pic lol)
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      08-18-2010, 10:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spacemonkey1112 View Post
Awesome read! I remember taking a trip with my family touring Europe in 2005 and talking with my brothers about all the cars we may see that aren't sold in the US. Jokingly, I was saying, "what if we saw a CSL!" We all knew that seemed unlikely considering how rare the car is. During our trip, we were in Switzerland about to board our tour bus. My brother had the camera and I look down the street and I couldn't believe my eyes that I was looking at a CSL coming towards us. I remember almost screaming to my brother, "THERE IS A CSL COMING TOWARDS US!!" I was so excited for that one moment. It funny how my most fond memory of Europe is spotting the CSL.
You had a great spot: congrats

Second, notice how people don't notice the E46 M3 CSL: that says a lot in my mind, also a

Third, wish I had seen this car.

Thanks for the post.
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      08-19-2010, 01:06 AM   #14
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E46 CSL or gtfo
+1
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      08-19-2010, 01:09 AM   #15
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awesome article! thanks for sharing.
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      08-19-2010, 01:26 AM   #16
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My favorite generation of M3 is the E46, but I think the most fun to drive one is probably the E30. I like the E46 a lot because its still a somewhat small car and the S54 is an awesome engine... it's fast and maneuverable but still looks very classy and has a timeless design. It hasn't aged since 2001 in my mind.
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      08-19-2010, 02:02 AM   #17
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agree. e46 is a classic design and honestly probably my favorite still.
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      08-19-2010, 02:15 AM   #18
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I see CSLs everytime I go up to the Nurburgring, but everytime I stare and wish I had one!!! Even though I have a e92 and e46 m3
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      08-19-2010, 02:22 AM   #19
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my fave is still the E46 CSL
probably the best sounding engine in the world
engine...not exhaust
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      08-19-2010, 04:44 AM   #20
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Quote:
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I see CSLs everytime I go up to the Nurburgring, but everytime I stare and wish I had one!!! Even though I have a e92 and e46 m3
Mate, I get the same feeling when looking at an e92 m3 :-) I think it's a regular thing for guys! That being said, I live with my CSL 5 months a year and it does that admirably.. a bit rough in city driving though. The noise it makes still makes people jump, which I love :-)
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      08-19-2010, 04:52 AM   #21
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Quote:
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E46 CSL or gtfo
fucking quoted for the mother fucking win

CSL > EVO/GTS

by fucking far
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      08-19-2010, 06:38 AM   #22
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of course im partial but i think the m3 sedan is the best. its similar to the old m5 2001 but more hp better handling etc., now thats my vote 2009 m3 sedan lemans blue yeeha!!!
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