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      04-21-2008, 01:53 PM   #1
mattwhite
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mattwhite's Review - M3 Coupe w/ M-DCT (Long)

Well, after waiting two weeks to pick up the car I, I finally flew to Cincinnati and got it on Saturday. Drove from Cinn. to Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday and then home to Houston on Sunday. It is a fantastic car that can be brutally aggressive or reasonably sedate depending on how you drive it. It is, however, not without some flaws. Here are some of my detailed thoughts after 1,000 miles.

First let me say something about my salesperson Mark Wacksman at Jake Sweeney BMW in Cinn. It's probably enough to say that I live in Houston and I've bought two M3s from him in the past 7 years. He goes above and beyond for his customers and I can't thank him enough for another wonderful experience the second time around. Jake Sweeney BMW is a family owned dealership that NEVER sells above sticker (not even the Z8). Mark has a Jerez black couple (6spd) and a sedan available now at sticker. Call him if you're interested: 513-782-1122.

Exterior

As many have said, the car looks better in person than in the pictures. I love the way the carbon roof looks with space gray - it is more visible than with a dark color such as black, but not as pronounced as with alpine white. It has a very muscular, aggressive appearance. However, the design is not perfect. I think the styling makes the car appear to be too tall and not wide enough, and the front fenders are too flared when compared to the rear. So all in all it looks great, but I can't help but thinking BMW could have done better.

This is definitely a stealth car, especially in space grey. I did basically this same drive last year in my 2007 cobalt blue 997S with factory aerokit, and I was mobbed everywhere I went. I got a few knowing glances in the M3, but that was about it. I'm quite happy about this, as this will be my daily driver.

Interior/Controls

The interior just reeks of quality, a huge improvement over the E46. The materials are top notch, and all the controls are in the right place. I've never used iDrive before. Not sure why so many complain about it. Sure, it takes a little while to get used to the menu navigation structure, but I feel like I've got it down now.

It also seems so much bigger, not only in the front, but also the rear, than the E46.

The cabin is so peaceful compared to the E46 - wind noise is down, and I don't remember one rattle or buzz from the interior the entire trip.

I got the premium sound and it is fantastic once you play with the EQ. The iPod integration works perfectly and sounds great. I also plugged in a flash drive, but can't really tell the difference in sound quality between them. I do wish, however, that the screen would show artist information when playing a track (it just shows the song title).

I do have an issue with the flash drive. It plays songs fine but won't let me select the buttons for playlist, artist, genre, etc. My directory structure is /music/artist/album/. Anyone have any ideas on this?

Negatives - not really any major ones, except in would be nice to have a small cubby hole up front for the cell/parking cards, etc., so I don't have to open the center console as much. Also, what is with the turn signal - it doesn't click when I manually disengage? I hate this. BMW, don't "fix" something that wasn't broken. Also, the steering wheel is ridiculously fat and the material covering it is bad. I wouldn't be surprised if the thickness of the wheel is killing some of the steering feedback that I would like more of (see below).

Engine/Brakes

All I can say is wow, what a motor. And this assessment is before I've really pushed it. Part throttle blasts from 3,500-5,500, which is not even in the sweet spot, push you back into your seat. And sooo smooth, the motor barely feels like it is working at all. So much smoother than the 6 in the E46. Can't wait to see what it can do with a few more revs.

As many have said, the stock exhaust has to go. The anemic sound just does not do the car justice.

The brakes are great as far as I can tell. Lots of initial bite and good feedback. I obviously can't vouch for track durability.

Steering/Chassis

This is the hardest part to discern. The car is built like a bank vault on wheels, so my initial impression was "god, this thing feels heavy." Couple this with the cabin isolation and the smoothness of the engine (and transmission - see below), and it is very hard to initially get a feel for its potential. But I did have a chance to throw it into a few corners, and it just turned in and planted in an extremely neutral manner.

The steering feel is probably the weakest part of the car if you are looking for the M3 to be an out-and-out sports car. Again, to a certain extent judgment has to be reserved until the car is pushed to the limit of adhesion, but at reasonably sane speeds, it's hard to know what the car is doing by just gripping the wheel. But again, the overall nature of the car is probably affecting my assessment here. When driving a car, you rely on numerous senses/sounds to help you feel what it is doing - engine sound, feel in the seat, steering feel, chassis response, etc. A byproduct of this car doing such a good job at isolating the cabin and dealing with any irregularity is it camouflages those little things we usually rely on for feedback.

Also, the default servotronic boost is far too high and I can't find a way to make it default to less boost. The only way to adjust it is to set it to sport in the M Mode parameters, so it will come on when you hit the M button. But why do I have to hit the M button for this? This is a huge flaw to me. Why can I only set the M button parameters and not the default parameters? Makes no sense.

M-DCT

First let me say that I've never had anything but sticks, and part of me wondered whether I was making the right choice with this option. Let me say that I have no doubts now! I am floored at how good M-DCT is. It's telepathic. Just thinking about a gear almost puts you there. The shifts are so smooth and lightning fast. I mainly used S3 and S4, with a few tests of S5, and when you are on the throttle, it is difficult to feel any difference in the speed of the shifts. There is a greater snap in S5, but it isn't that much - feels like going over a small bump. S5 seems to have more aggressive blips, which doesn't make much sense to me - the computer should blip to the revs needed to match the downshift, regardless of the mode.

The D modes are good as well in the higher modes, just hitting the gas when in a higher gear will get immediate downshifts.

Complaints - same one as above. The car defaults into S3 on startup and apparently there is no way to change this (am I missing something?). You can program the M button to switch to a different program, but again, I have to hit a button every time I get in the car. Also, here's a scenario. If I valet the car (please no "how could you valet, I never valet," etc. comments), I'm going to put it in D mode. I would like it to start in D mode so the valet is not confused, but it just defaults back to S3. Anyone have an idea on this?

Comparison to my 997S

It's hard to compare these cars, because they are so different. Both are great cars, but very different in personality. The 997 is lighter and feels it; it is finesse to the M3s brute force. They are probably pretty evenly matched, and it would not surprise me if the M3 was faster, especially after 80mph. For a pure driving experience, however, the 997S is more satisfying; for a daily driver if I had to pick just one, it would be the M3.

So, in summary, the new M3 is amazing. It is so good it feels slightly pedestrian. You could get into serious trouble trying to even approach the limits of this car on the street, it is a beast. The M-DCT transmission is a must-have in my mind. In fact, knowing what I now know about the car, I wouldn't buy one if it didn't have this option. It just fits the personality of the car far better than a manual, and I think anyone worrying about lack of pure driver involvement may be looking at the wrong car. Just my 2 cents.

It's going in for the 1,200 service a week from today. More to come

Here are a few pictures:

















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Last edited by mattwhite; 04-21-2008 at 02:18 PM.
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      04-21-2008, 01:55 PM   #2
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Why the two identical posts?
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      04-21-2008, 01:57 PM   #3
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Accidently posted in wrong place - have flagged the other for deletion
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      04-21-2008, 02:02 PM   #4
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Matt - check my response to your other post (before it gets deleted) to find the answer to your question about artist names.

Great pics and write-up
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      04-21-2008, 02:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCH View Post
Matt - check my response to your other post (before it gets deleted) to find the answer to your question about artist names.

Great pics and write-up
Thank you - that helps! Now if I could figure out the issue with the flash drive, although to tell you the truth, I'd be lying if I told you I could tell the difference in sound quality from the iPod.
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Last edited by mattwhite; 04-21-2008 at 02:35 PM.
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      04-21-2008, 02:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattwhite View Post
Thank you - that helps! Now if I could figure out the issue with the flash drive, although to tell you the truth, I'd be lying if I could tell the difference in sound quality from the iPod.
I've never tried a flash drive on my X5 but you might find the answer in this post:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114132
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      04-21-2008, 02:20 PM   #7
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Great write-up Matt. And beautiful car. I too am annoyed with the default S3 mode as well as the normal throttle response and the fact that I have to push the Power button or M-button everytime I get in the car. It's not a huge deal but it was poor planning on BMW's part. I haven't had much time to play with it but I was told that the car should default to the setting used prior to shutting down the engine. I don't believe mine is doing this.
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      04-21-2008, 02:22 PM   #8
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Thx for the review.

As an aside I testdrove a 997S today for the first time. I can really understand what people say when you feel connected to the road cliched as that phrase is. That car is simply remarkable. My only worry is that the M3, despite its awesome performance on paper, is somewhat blunted compared to the 9997S/CS.

Will have to testdrive a MDCT M3 and see.
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      04-21-2008, 02:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCH View Post
I've never tried a flash drive on my X5 but you might find the answer in this post:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114132
I just reread this post. I'll try putting my playlists in the root directory and see if that helps.

Here's a tip for anyone using the Corsair drives. They are slightly too tall to plug into the usb port and close the console lid, but you can trim the rubber loop off the top with a knife and then close the lid no problem - saves having a cable in there.
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      04-21-2008, 03:26 PM   #10
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Damn hot. That's exactly my car. Minus the extended leather. Gorgeous.
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      04-21-2008, 03:33 PM   #11
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great, another satisfied owner. I went with the DCT as many have without having driven it and am worried some, but so far mostly positive reviews. It does make you wonder why they do some things like default to S3 (?) why? It would make more sense as you say to default to an automatic mode or better yet the last mode you were in. How hard is that?

Maybe some people can say how to get around this.

--

Great to hear you own a 997 and still think the M3 is a great car as well. I guess sometimes I think well I'm spending will be $70K for my M3 so that's in the ballpark of Z06, GTR, 911S (for example) so I just hope it's up to that price tag. I know having driven it but it's noce to hear from people that have both or are going from a 911 to a M3.

I didn't go 911 for several reasons: price and rear seats. $70K is a bit of money so I didn't want to be spending $80K or $90K to get the same features as I'm getting with my almost loaded M3. Also this is going to be a DD and am currently driving a S2000 and wish to be more on the GT-car that the M3 does so well.

Last reason is I really want the DCT and so far the M3 is leading the pack (not counting four cylinder VW/Audi cars).

Last edited by rai; 04-21-2008 at 03:55 PM.
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      04-21-2008, 03:38 PM   #12
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thanks for the extensive review, greatly appreciated and congrats!!!
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      04-21-2008, 03:39 PM   #13
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I'm surprised to hear that DCT defaults to S3. IIRC, the SMG II started in the last mode it was in. However sport mode (throttle response) always defaulted to off, and DSC to on. You'd think with iDrive (MDM and all that) you could set defaults as well as the M button. I'd say lawyers had a hand in this and you could certainly say that was the case with the E46 SMG, but S3 just doesn't make sense.
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      04-21-2008, 04:02 PM   #14
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Thanks for the outstanding review. Good to hear a 997S owner give such props to the new M3. I agree with the surface of the steering wheel.... should be perforated for better grip at least. I like that it's thick but the leather is just too slick. Perhaps having the steering rim redone in alcantara would make a nice mod.

I'm extremely jealous of all you people getting your M-DCT cars already.

Can't wait for mine!
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      04-21-2008, 04:48 PM   #15
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It should'nt default to S3. I wonder if it can be fixed with a software update.
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      04-21-2008, 04:59 PM   #16
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Talking Congrats on your M3 and thanks for the pics

enjoy your ride.
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      04-21-2008, 05:15 PM   #17
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nice review of dct. congrats, enjoy the beast
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      04-21-2008, 05:18 PM   #18
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Great review..... I guess comparing it to a 997S definitely gives the M3 some props... although I feel that they're 2 different classes of car. The P-car in my opinion is really a stretch to be a daily driver as opposed to the M car. I've driven several 911s from diff. family members and I think in a comfort standpoint, the M car edges the P car by some margin. I mean, the clutch on the P-car is stiff compared to the M (on a 6mt). I assume not a lot of people would spring for the triptronic tranny for the P-car if they really had a choice, right? Congrats on the new ride....
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      04-21-2008, 05:42 PM   #19
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First of all thanks.
Second I just wanted to thank you for the review.
Third - would you mind posting a followup in a month or so about whether you still like shifting via the paddles or if you find yourself switching to D modes.

I'm a mt guy and I'm interested in the m-dct as well.
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      04-21-2008, 06:16 PM   #20
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Great write up Matt!

That drive back from Cinncy must have been awesome. I love the car that is the exact same color combo I am going for. Congrats again!
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      04-21-2008, 06:41 PM   #21
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Thanks for the great review. It also makes the agonizing wait for the M-DCT feel like it was worth it.

I am scheduled for production the first week of June with a mid-July delivery so I have a ways to go still though...
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      04-21-2008, 07:38 PM   #22
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