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      03-25-2008, 04:59 PM   #1
GT3 Tim
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Test Drove one Today (review from a GT3 driver)

My dealer called and said they had a SSII in stock so I could see the color in person...so I headed over at lunch time.

Not only did he have a SSII coupe, but a Black Sedan, and a AW coupe! (Edit: The also had another AW coupe in the prep center with a big ass orange SOLD sticker on it.) I was able to check them all out. I was also able to see the 18" wheels on the car, for the first time. I saw the 19's on all others I looked at, so it was cool to see the 18's.

As far as finish on them, it is definately a "gun metal" color. When I compared them to the 19's, I noticed that the paint they use on the 19's is the same color as on the 18's. If you look on the 19's, the inside of the spokes and the inside portion of the rim is painted a gunmetal color. It looked identical to the color the 18's were. However, I am still on the fence over what wheel to get. Although I like the 18's much more in person.

As for the drive...I ended up driving the AW coupe as the sedan was on the showroom floor. The SSII coupe was still in prep.

Got in and adjusted the mirrors, etc. Hit the folding mirror button by accident. Fricken cool, but I am gonna pass on it.

Had CA so I depressed the clutch and hit the start button. About 1 second later it rumbled to life. The sound of the motor just idling was impressive. I was actually a bit shocked how mean it sounded at idle! A very nice rumble to it.

After that, I focused forward and was immeadiately confronted by how HUGE the power hump is...Holy crap! From the outside it doesn't look it, but from inside it looks HUGE. NOT a problem though...visability is fine, but man, that thing looks huge from inside!

Upon driving out of the lot, I noticed how soft the clutch is. Mind you, I drive a 996 GT3, which has a heavy clutch (which I love). But this puppy was super soft. I would prefer a stiffer set-up, but that is merely my preference. I don't think it would be a problem whatsoever....just too soft for me.

I drove very mellow, letting her warm up for a while. I played with the EDC and noticed a pleasant difference between soft and stiff. It was noticable. Even my rearseat passenger felt it. I like it...glad I am getting Tech Pck w/ EDC!

After she warmed up, I gave her some stick. I only reved to about 5K as I don't want to abuse the machine...My dealer guy was cool with whatever, but I have respect for somebody's car that aint mine...so I was gentle. However, the sound is very nice. I thought it would sound meaner, based on how it sounded at idle, but it was more subdued, but still a nice note. I think I could hear more intake noise than exhaust noise though. I imagine when you get past 6K or so, it would really start to wail, just like my car.

The torque was very good and the car pulled fairly hard. Again, I am used to a fricken rocket, so keep that in mind...lol....when I say it pulled fairly hard, that is in comparo to my car and a nice compliment for the M. My car is about 800 lbs lighter than the M and has nearly the same HP....so to say the M pulls fairly hard is saying a lot!

The weight did NOT seem to be too bad, but I did not take any fast corners in it...but it felt extremely well planted and stable in those I did...which is a great compliment given the comparison vehicle. When I initailly started to look at the M3, I was worried most about the weight....but after the drive, I am not as concerned. At the track, I bet one will feel it, but still, with the M's suspension, etc. I know it will still be a joy to track. Weight is almost a non-issue for me now.

Overall, the car was VERY impressive. Great fit and finish, well laid out, and comfortable.

After I got back to the lot, I kicked out my passengers and played with the Enhanced Sound. In going through the iDrive menu, I accessed a 7 band EQ, adjusted a few things, and let her rip. Sounds PF good, I must say. Damn near the sound I get out of the wifes GX470 with the Levinson sound system. I would say it is as good as the Levinson, but then again, I did not tweak it around that much! It may be better...prolly is. You can feel the bass under the seat when it hits...not an earth shaking deal, but nice feel and sound. I planned to order Enhanced Audio, and still plan to do so. I think it will be worth it, but I did not compare to the standard set-up as all cars had the option (all were loaded to the gills!).

I like the rear and side window shades on the sedan...glad I ordered those. Will be very nice for the kid or other peeps here in sunny Sacramento, where it gets in the 100's in the summer! Even while parking the car, it may help keep it a bit cooler, and help block som UV's from scorching my interior!

Other things...

I like the trunk size...

I think the folding rear seats are worth it (for me at least). I used them quite a bit in my previous E36 M3's and will prolly use them in the new one. Transporting track wheels and equipment is SO much easier with the folding seats!

Brakes... NICE. BMW appears to have done it right this time with floating front AND rear rotors...nice job. Brake feel was a bit softer than I am used to, but again, keep in mind the comparo vehicle. I will prolly install some SS brake lines to firm up the feel a bit. I like a firm pedal!

The Servotronic steering was pretty cool. I thought the car felt "OK" when it was in normal mode...but then I put it in Sport Plus (I think -- it was the max sporty setting) and response was better and the wheel felt a bit heavier, which was more to what I am used too. I have no issues with the steeering...again, big compliment.

Interior was nicely laid out...everything within easy reach, asside from the cupholders maybe, but who cares!

One issue, or potential problem I am concerned about is this...

I noticed that when grabbing the wheel in the 3 amd 9 position (so your thumbs rest on the under side of the humps, the signal and wiper stalks seem farily close to the wheel. Not as issue with a 6MT, but if there were paddles (for us M-DCT guys) crammed in between the wheel and the stalks, I think it will be too tight. Hopefully they will create some space there...I dunno. Just seemed tight as it was...I can't image paddles in there without rearranging the stalks (or moving them forward a bit).

Overall visibility was a non-issue. Seemed ok to me.

The seats are comfy, but seemed HIGH to me. Mind you the comparo vehicle....but still, I think the seats should sink lower. Maybe the Enhanced Audio subs under the seat hinder that, I dunno. But the seating height seemed high to me. I don't think it is a major issue...just an observation. It is not even close to a deal breaker, just something I noticed.

That's about it for now. Let me know if you have questions.

Oh, and yes, the front AND rear doors on the sedan have those "puddle illumination lights" under the hande pulls! lol.

edit: forgot to add... the steering wheel is NICE. NICE and THICK...well done!

edit 2: I keep thinking of things to add. The Nov. Leather is FANTASTIC. Super supple and soft. VERY nice feel and finish.

edit 3: One of the Admins added the ("review from a GT3 owner") in the Title.....I aint trying to be vain! lol
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Last edited by GT3 Tim; 03-26-2008 at 03:18 PM.
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      03-25-2008, 05:06 PM   #2
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whats wrong ?

how come you didnt take any photos, SSII is my fav color

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      03-25-2008, 05:16 PM   #3
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HAHA. I had my crappy camera phone only...so what's the point? lol
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      03-25-2008, 05:22 PM   #4
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Very nice review!!! Thanks for taking the time to do so!!!
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      03-25-2008, 05:25 PM   #5
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Nice review, esp. from a GT3 owner, sweet GT3!
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      03-25-2008, 05:32 PM   #6
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Great review! I agree with the steering wheel, i absolutely love it.
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      03-25-2008, 05:57 PM   #7
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No prob. I enjoyed sharing my experience. I think it is going to be a great car...when it finally arrives! lol
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      03-25-2008, 06:21 PM   #8
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Thank you for the review.
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      03-25-2008, 06:40 PM   #9
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Thanks for the write up.

I am sure the Bimmer guys will have the position of the paddles all figured out...

Jason
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      03-25-2008, 07:25 PM   #10
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wow, thats a long one. But nicely done. Thanks
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      03-25-2008, 09:31 PM   #11
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Thanks for the great review. Given your point of reference (Track experience/GT3), I'm glad to hear the M left such a favorable impression. I was especially happy to hear the comments about weight and steering. It seems that most of the US test drives have been fairly positive about the steering. I wonder if there were any adjustments made before we received examples in North America.
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      03-25-2008, 09:44 PM   #12
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Great review, thanks.
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      03-25-2008, 10:38 PM   #13
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Great review. Thanks for sharing! Yet more proof and perspective that there's nothing wrong with the E9x M3 steering... this time from a GT3 driver, a car that some will say, defines steering feel.
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      03-25-2008, 11:28 PM   #14
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Great review Tim, comparisons with the gt3 really put into perspective how good the m3 is. The Porsche has some of the brakes in the performance car arena for you to compliment the single piston floaters is a huge plus. Yea those seats, the euro model probably had the seat bottoms you would have preferred, maybe you can special order those and have them installed?
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      03-26-2008, 12:03 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masmole View Post
Great review. Thanks for sharing! Yet more proof and perspective that there's nothing wrong with the E9x M3 steering... this time from a GT3 driver, a car that some will say, defines steering feel.
It does certainly define steering feel and brake feel as well.

Let me clarify a bit on my comments.

The M feels solid..... the steering is very good I thought...after reading all the 'complaints" about it, I think they are unfounded. Now, I have owned two E36 M3's. The steering feel on those was better than the E92, but the E92 is still GOOD. I don't think it warrants a "criticism" per se. I did not find it vague or numb. It does provide less feedback than my E36's did, but I still think it is pretty damn good!

Brakes. i did not hammer on the brakes...they should be properly bedded before going nuts anyways. Hammering on them would not yield a true result at this point. What I was commenting on was the floating rotors on the front AND rear. VERY nice move BMW! The euro floaters were the way to go for the E36 M3's, but they only made them for the fronts. The floaters help dissapate heat more quickly as the rotor is attached to the hat by "pins" (if you will). They also transfer much less heat to the hat, and thus the bearings, etc. Seeing them in the front was nice...seeing them on back gave me wood. Very well though out IMHO...a nice move that only a few of us track nuts would even care about...that says a lot.

I can hardly wait to open one up all the way...my motor is also high reving. The power really comes on after 6K or so. I bet the M is similar. I can hardly wait!
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      03-26-2008, 12:22 AM   #16
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Thank you on the clarification on the "floaters" That insight I never knew about. I never doubted bmw m's knowledge of braking systems. Everyone else keeps on saying the m3 has poor brakes for the car. M3's with race pads never had any fading issues from all of the reviews however the street pads did, so obviously the solution is simple.
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      03-26-2008, 12:57 AM   #17
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Hey GT3Tim - did you notice any grabbiness with the brakes when doing light braking?

I to have owned and driven a 996 GT3 - and this car so far is doing well for me - which is high praise indeed as once you drive a GT3 - it's kinda hard to "settle" for something else.

I mean - where do you go after a GT3? Ferrari F430? 997 GT3 (to civilized..) what?

I think that the M3 drives well, has enough HP, and is comfortable enough, and has a really, really kicking stereo system that I may just have found my "practical" replacement for the GT3.

The GT3 of course being totally impractical for the wife and kid!
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      03-26-2008, 02:06 AM   #18
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I found that the steering was excellent, different from what bmw owner's have come to expect, but excellent. It's much lighter than what I'm used to, lighter than my old e46 m3 and lighter than my e90 328xi or e92 335xi(super heavy), but it's very accurate (almost telepathic) and still provides ample feedback to the driver.
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      03-26-2008, 02:30 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GT3 Tim View Post
...
The floaters help dissapate heat more quickly as the rotor is attached to the hat by "pins" (if you will). They also transfer much less heat to the hat, and thus the bearings, etc.
Great review. The perspective is very valuable from a GT3 fellow. It is not surprising to me that the M3 bested the GT3 in one mag. test. It does not by any means mean the M3 is the superior track car or faster, just a better all arounder.

One small clarification. You mostly dead on with the floating rotors. I run them on my E36 M3 as well. They do not dissipate heat more quickly, you had it right in the second comment, they actually prevent the heat from going to your hubs and bearings (which is actually just a small side benefit). The extra heat/temperature is actually under the most extreme circumstances bad. The mitigation is that the pins allows the rotor to be almost a totally uniform flat disk (rather than a bit like a hat with brim). With the hat not attached to the disk through solid material it can more easily expand and contract under the large thermal loads with no stress at the hat/rotor junction and hence less warping.
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      03-26-2008, 02:43 AM   #20
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So from what you guys are saying (i dont have a lot of knowledge on brakes), is that the reason for the fade is not the single pot design? Then would changing pads for track use be sufficient?
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      03-26-2008, 03:05 AM   #21
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Great review Tim! Glad to hear another perspective and I couldn't agree more.
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      03-26-2008, 05:01 AM   #22
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your very right dude, the seat is too high!! i knew it..its not just me....IMO if the seats screwed the ride is too. we are not the only ones
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