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      02-28-2008, 11:38 AM   #1
swamp2
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Up close and personal w/ M3 in Frankfurt (long with brief 2nd hand M-DCT drive blurb)

Warning - long and detailed with very little new facts... Not really my typical posting style but this was a fun little adventure and worth sharing.

During my recent business trip to Malta I had an overnight lay over in Frankfurt. I went on a small quest to see the new M3 and was not disappointed by the extra time, money and effort required to do so. Although I saw the car at the recent LAIAS no one was allowed to get close, touch, nor sit in the car. I simply had to do better before absolutely finalizing my order. I used some extensive googling to locate potential dealers to visit. Despite the power of the net, and of course being limited by not knowing any German (and yes google language tools were of assistance but not much), I was unable to precisely identify a large nor likely dealer that would have a M3 in stock. Some satellite images helped judge the sizes of various dealers, but in the end personal advice was the key. My ex roommate and good German friend helped out here. I certainly could have made more phone calls but in the end I took as complete of list as I could find, his guess/suggestion and headed off. Arriving the day before there had been a lot of rain and I was met with typical gray winter German skies. Waking up today the roads were mostly dry giving me great hope for the outcome should the remote chance of a test drive (ride) be realized. I hopped in the taxi around 9 a.m. with my guess that the dealers would open around this time. After a short 10 minute ride to BMW AG Filiale Niederrad I was warmly greeted by a customer advisor. I must have looked a bit odd with my luggage and Camelback as well in tow (got to some nice hikes in Malta...). Later I realized part of the warmth of the greeting was false - this fellow mistook me for a person with whom he had a morning meeting. He explained that they are a small dealer and had not yet even had a single allocation. Knowing the situation in the US, and the fact that we have to wait longer to get our cars, I sort of felt a bit vindicated by even their inability (or lack of interest/need) in getting an M3. He quickly gave me a sticky with the address of a much larger dealer about 20 minutes away that had the car in stock. My "meeting" was finally clearly in the crosshairs. The receptionist phoned a taxi and I was off for a very scenic ride along the River Main through Frankfurt. As I enjoyed the stark contrast between the new and the old, especially in the architecture of Frankfurt, I thought more about this land and the folks that make BMW M, BMW M. We arrived at BMW Niederlassung Frankfurt but curiously the M3 was not prominently displayed right up front. Wandering in to the large showroom I spotted her in the far back corner in a nice display dedicated to her.

She was right next to the BMW motorcycle area and parked next to some impressive rally/dual sport, boxer engined bikes. She was black on Jet Black with Blue-gray aluminum trim and 19" wheels. I was surprised at how much one can spend on options here (see photo of car spec. below). The car came in at 73.9k euro, but was available for a 36 month lease for only 679 euro/mo. Although I did not get much attention from the staff, once I inquired about leather color samples, I found a very friendly fellow. He was not overwhelmingly knowledgeable, but was nice enough to spend quite some time with me. Unfortunately there were no Fox Red leather samples (my car is at 112 with Fox). Although I saw the car at the LA show touching, smelling and sitting in her was thoroughly enjoyable. As you can imagine taking the drivers seat and letting my imagination run was the highlight. It was enjoyable even without hearing her nor even moving a single inch in her.

Despite believing that the M3 engine has more in common with the previous M5 V8 than the current M5 V10 the fellow helping me was very friendly and attentive. This was encouraging especially given he knew there was no chance of any business from me whatsoever. The few good and novel details I got from him were on the M-DCT (of course "DKG" from him). A short time ago he both drove the M3 with M-DCT and was driven by an experienced BMW engineer and driver in the car. The test drive was part of a dealer training event where M-DCT was introduced. He admitted he did not pilot the car in a very aggressive fashion yet at the same time the transmission was highly impressive. His single largest impression was with the comfort and smoothness especially compared to SMG and even the maintenance of this smoothness in the more aggressive manual modes. He described the automatic modes as truly flawless, smoother and better than any automatic box. His test driver was a suspension engineer from BMW M and he spent more time showing off the manual and sportier modes. This Customer Advisor claimed that someone from BMW in the training claimed that the transmission shifts so quickly that it can not be timed (laughing under my breath I realized again the power of the BMW marketing machine...). He also got a demonstration of launch control which of course was every bit as impressive as it is with SMG II/III.

This car already had 15,000 km on it as it is a dealer/future customer demo car. Up until this mileage the car can still be sold as "new", albeit a new demo car. It was still in excellent condition. Since the car was a demo I asked if there was any way to have a test drive even if only as a passenger. Unfortunately, the car was right at 15,000 km so it was no longer possible to drive it. A few other comments:
  • The aluminum hood although very light and completely lacking trim/damping/noise treatments is quite stiff. Stiff but not rock solid, stiff like highly engineered, racy, yet still suitable for a street car.
  • The car only had Pilot Sport 2 tires not Cup+, despite having the 19" wheels. This again begs the question of the factory OEM tire and the Cup+ tire used in the Sportauto test+Nurburgring time.
  • As would be expected the CF roof blends well with the Jet Black but offers too little contrast in this combination IMHO.
  • Seats: Very similar to the E46 M3 and quite sufficient for those of us with a narrow frame. Width (and width adjustment range is good) and shoulder bolsters provide ample function and support.
  • Probably not much needs to be said about the form and body itself given how many pictures we have seen and how many have now at least seen the car IRL. Nonetheless I will note that the body is dramatic yet subtle, very masculine and there is much detail to notice from every angle. The front and rear fender flares are truly breathtaking.

The only flaws I noticed in this particular car were the following:
  • Minor "orange peel" in the paint especially on the doors and front quarter panels (noted a few times in other reports as well).
  • A small misalignment in the gap between the two parts of the upper post/strut of the rear side mirrors. This is a gap I consider too large and representing too low of a build quality/fit and finish. Perhaps this amount of clearance is required for the folding operation.
  • Melted patches on the rear drivers side floor mat from cigarette ash. The sales associate was truly astonished and disappointed to see this noting that smoking in all cars is strictly forbidden. His German seriousness came across quite strongly here. I think the dealer may have a formal investigation .

I also obtained an answer to a question I posted some time ago about the Blue-Gray aluminum trim. Although cool to the touch and appearing much like real aluminum, it is not - it is plastic (perhaps coated with real aluminum). The reason is that metallic trim is not allowed anywhere in the interior for crash safety reasons. Makes a lot of sense, a cut/split/torn metal trim piece could function as a very effective blade under the right and misfortunate circumstances. Despite some strong suggestions and opinions against this trim with Fox Red, I will definitely stick to my choice here. It does not have any bluish tint, it looks and feels like real aluminum with a fairly coarse brushed finish. Quite simply - I like.

If you have the time and resource to see the car or better yet to drive it, before you place your order or even before you get more serious about a decision, I'd certainly say "go for it". For me this was a well spent diversion that has reinvigorated my excitement about the car.
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      02-28-2008, 11:55 AM   #2
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Excellent read...you lucky B****!
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      02-28-2008, 12:01 PM   #3
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Nice job!! Thanks!! Do agree with you points!!!
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      02-28-2008, 12:07 PM   #4
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great write up.....
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      02-28-2008, 12:09 PM   #5
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Thanks for the write up. I'm surprised the lease rate is so low--must have to put a lot down.
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      02-28-2008, 12:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregW / Oregon View Post
Thanks for the write up. I'm surprised the lease rate is so low--must have to put a lot down.
May be the 17k euro denoted by the term leasingsonderzahlung.
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      02-28-2008, 12:32 PM   #7
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damm, only €73,900.00 for a used m3 with 15K km! that's like $110K wow!
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      02-28-2008, 12:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobr2001 View Post
damm, only 73,900.00 for a used m3 with 15K km! that's like $110K wow!
I suspect that was the new price which is no longer accurate given the state of the car.
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      02-28-2008, 12:44 PM   #9
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Nice. Thanks S. Wish I got to sit in it.
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      02-28-2008, 12:49 PM   #10
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Wow, Swamp in Germany!

I just configured this exact car: Price when new was about 86k , so 73,900 is the price for this demo car with 15k km on it. As you say, 17k down makes the monthly payment relatively low. But don't think it's a good deal for an HEA car anyway (registration before the German launch date which also explains the lack of Cup+ tires).


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      02-28-2008, 12:52 PM   #11
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That's too cool man. Thanks for the write-up. Good to know about the aluminum trim too. I've been debating between that and CFL. Also debating between FR and EFR. Always good to hear some more opinions.
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      02-28-2008, 12:58 PM   #12
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Nice adventure! Thanks for the write-up.
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      02-28-2008, 01:03 PM   #13
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Nice write up. It was quite an effort.
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      02-28-2008, 01:16 PM   #14
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Thanks for your story.

Did you make it back to the airport in time for your flight?

I was lucky enough to get stranded at Frankfurt two nights one time in '05. Me and my coworkers rented a E90 sedan and spent a day cruising up and down the Rhine, which included 2 small ferry crossings of the river, as well as some Autobahn time. If I'd known the 'ring was so close to Frankfurt, I would have gone there.
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      02-28-2008, 01:31 PM   #15
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The Lease goes like this:

17,000 Euro downpayment
670 Euros/month
at 10,000 km/year (roughly 6,000 miles, year).

I am disturbed by the fact that MSRP is displayed as 53,000 Euros, because in reality it is 66,000 Euros..

Thanks for the write-up,

CSL
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      02-28-2008, 01:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skierman64 View Post
Thanks for your story.

Did you make it back to the airport in time for your flight?

I was lucky enough to get stranded at Frankfurt two nights one time in '05. Me and my coworkers rented a E90 sedan and spent a day cruising up and down the Rhine, which included 2 small ferry crossings of the river, as well as some Autobahn time. If I'd known the 'ring was so close to Frankfurt, I would have gone there.
I really wanted to get home so I pried myself away from the car and got back with plenty of time. Your "lay over" sounds like a blast as well.
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      02-28-2008, 01:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSL-Fanatik View Post
The Lease goes like this:

17,000 Euro downpayment
670 Euros/month
at 10,000 km/year (roughly 6,000 miles, year).

I am disturbed by the fact that MSRP is displayed as 53,000 Euros, because in reality it is 66,000 Euros..

Thanks for the write-up,

CSL
It doesn't show the MSRP for a new car minus the discount, the discount is already included in that price.


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      02-28-2008, 01:49 PM   #18
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Thanks for sharing that with us Swamp. I can relate to the excitement you felt from being in the land of M and actually getting to see the car in person. I was in Munchen for Oktoberfest last fall and I had the opportunity to see an AW E92 M3 w/19's on display inside Munchen airport. I was really taken by how striking and beautiful the car is in person. It has such a confident and muscular stance that that I knew my wait had been, and would be, worth it.
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      02-28-2008, 02:02 PM   #19
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Thanks for the pics, that is the same color combination that I have ordered.
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      02-28-2008, 02:22 PM   #20
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Great writeup swamp! You're lucky to have seen the car. Thankfully I'm only 9 days away!
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      02-28-2008, 02:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
May be the 17k euro denoted by the term leasingsonderzahlung.
Thats right. The "Sonderzahlung" has to be paid when you buy the car. then you pay the leasing every month ( the term is 36months).

But one important thing to meantion, the sheet tells that you are just allowed to drive 10.000km per Year! Every following Kilometer will be very expansive...
Dont let the "low" price blind you!

btw, nice writting swamp
Next time you visit frankfurt, let me know. I were living there for 20 years and i m visting the area nearly every weekend.
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      02-28-2008, 03:09 PM   #22
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The guy is completely wrong about aluminum trim. I personally have the aluminum cube in my E46 M3 and it is real aluminum. Same goes for the aluminum trim available in the E60 M5.
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