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      12-29-2009, 12:20 PM   #1
calintexas
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Arrow Car & Driver's 2008 BMW M3 Long-Term Road Test @ 40k miles

There is a full 40K mile review on the car. They have some complaints, but are very positive overall. In the same issue is the 4th annual Lighting Lap competition at VIR. Although they did complain about the M-DCT not always doing what they wanted it to, the M3 did very well beating both a 911 Carrera S and a Cayman S. I got the issue in the mail yesterday.

LINK: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...term_road_test


2008 BMW M3 - Long-Term Road Test


Shooting Star: The Perfect Sports Car?

BY MARK GILLIES, PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE WENDT AND MARC URBANO
December 2009





A car has got to be pretty spectacular to win over the curmudgeons here at 1585 Eisenhower Place, especially when familiarity sets in over the course of 40,000 miles. But our Sparkling Graphite Metallic M3 did indeed win us over. For less than $70,000, the M3 bolts from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and turns the quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds at 113 mph. It pulls an exceptional 0.96 g on the skidpad, stops in 147 feet from 70 mph, and reaches a governor-restricted 161 mph. On a racetrack or a back road, it’s a beautifully balanced and hugely entertaining machine.

Aside from performance, the M3 is comfortable on the highway and has plenty of space for four adults. It has a full complement of luxury accouterments and yet is very practical—even the trunk is commodious. It has muscular, raked looks and a handsomely dark interior. A bonus is that regular service doesn’t cost a cent, thanks to BMW’s full-maintenance program, which lasts for four years or 50,000 miles. (The gas bill, however, wasn’t cause to rejoice, given this BMW’s 17-mpg thirst.)

When it came to ordering the car, we went with the so-called M double-clutch transmission (M DCT), a $2700 option that replaces the standard six-speed manual with a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, BMW’s first. We were eager to try this setup because dual-clutch transmissions promise the smoothness of an automatic when the driver can’t be bothered to change gears, as well as superfast paddle shifts in manual mode. In the previous M3 (E46), BMW offered a single-clutch, automated manual gearbox that was notable for its harshness in manual mode and its clunkiness as an automatic.

Other options included the $750 Cold-Weather package, a godsend in Michigan winters; the $3250 Technology package that dumps navigation in with electronic adaptive dampers; 19-inch wheels and tires ($1200); and the $1900 Premium package that bundles power folding mirrors and Bluetooth interface along with upgraded leather interior trim that has a distinctive carbon-fiber look.



The interior held up well, but the side of the driver’s seat got scuffed up. Rear-seat space was decent.

Who wouldn’t react favorably to a performance car so well rounded? Here’s who: some whiners on staff anxious to get past the 1200-mile engine-break-in period, during which BMW suggests that drivers never use full throttle and refrain from revving higher than 5500 rpm. Once past this period, our crew was fulsome in its praise for the BMW’s everyday drivability—although it pays to keep the variable shocks on their softest setting on poor pavement. We even noted relatively few iDrive complaints, at least until the knob that controls it became loose at 37,000 miles. (It was replaced under warranty, without charge.) BMW has since changed the iDrive interface, and the new setup is far easier to operate. Those who plugged iPods into the M3 were satisfied with the interface between tunes and car.

We always plan for snow in the winter, so at 19,903 miles, we installed a set of Pirelli Winter 240 Sottozero tires on the base 18-inch rims. We racked up 10,500 miles on these tires, during which the M3 proved quite adept at getting around despite all the white stuff that fell in Michigan last winter and spring. The car also rode better on the 18s, although most drivers felt the decrease in ride quality with the 19-inch wheels was worth it for the improved looks.



Spot the missing iDrive knob . . .

The service history was fairly uncomplicated, and with the free regular maintenance, the only out-of-pocket cost for 40,000 miles was $1450 for new tires. Based on our experience, the stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s should last roughly 25,000 miles for the rears and 35,000 for the fronts. As for service, after an initial 1200-mile stop to replace the engine oil and the transmission and differential fluids, the BMW’s onboard computer determines the service schedule. It prompted us at 16,210 (engine-oil change), 27,769 (various inspections), and 29,248 miles (engine-oil change).

Due to an oversight, the M3 arrived at our offices without satellite radio installed, so we decided to add Sirius pay-radio service in the car at 13,264 miles—the unwed among us were suffering Howard Stern deprivation—which cost $245 for wiring and programming.

At the 27,769-mile service stop, the M DCT transmission was reprogrammed as part of a service bulletin that resulted from the “sudden loss of engine power when decelerating to a complete stop with light brake application.” M3 forums describe the sensation as being akin to the car stalling due to the transmission holding a higher gear than appropriate. In any event, this mechanical foul-up never bit us.

Over the M3’s long stay, several drivers banged up the perilously low frontal underbody against curbs, inclined driveways, and irritating parking-lot barriers, to the point that we had to replace the engine splash shield and other underbody parts at a cost of $501. Other than this, the car’s exterior (and interior) held up extremely well over its 17 months with us.

The only significant complaints involved the dual-clutch transmission. In automatic mode, it works remarkably well, and it was hard not to be awed by the speed of the shifts and its smoothness of operation. Indeed, technical director Dave VanderWerp observed that it “upshifts so smoothly under part throttle that it’s easier to detect a shift from the change of the exhaust note than it is to feel it. Too bad,” he went on, “that the lazy throttle tip-in from standstill is so off-putting.”

And near the end, the dual-clutch transmission was making clunks and groans. Assistant tech editor K.C. Colwell was adamant that the transmission had loosened up considerably. Twice while the M3 was parked facing downhill, the transmission slipped markedly when the driver was trying to back up. If the clutches need to be replaced, our local dealer quoted us $3296 for the job! So far, none of the M3 forums has reported any issues with M DCT, save for the service bulletin already mentioned. Indeed, most owners seem besotted with the dual-clutch gearbox.
Most of the sentimental drivers on staff would have preferred a manual transmission in the M3, although the automatic function of the M DCT is good for mindless commuting. All around, this M3 was a far better experience than our long-term E46 M3. Not only is the M3 dramatically improved in acceleration, braking, and skidpad grip, but it was utterly dependable. That 2001 M3 burned through 14 quarts of oil and used to sputter, stumble, and often stall on cold winter mornings. This M3 needed just two remedial quarts, the first of which wasn’t added until 25,000 miles, and the car held a steady idle on even the bitterest cold starts. Based on our experience, the current M3 is the world’s all-around best car for the money, although several staffers would have preferred to trade some of the coupe’s looks for the added practicality of the sedan. Choices, choices.


RANTS AND RAVES

K.C. Colwell
This is the finest car on the market, period.

Russ Ferguson
The slow-speed launch can really suck. One auto-shop teacher accelerated very gingerly and got the M3 to buck and hitch like a 16-year-old learning to drive a manual.

Sara Quiroga
My only complaint about this car is that I don’t own it.

Mike Dushane
The dual-clutch transmission short-shifts at the slightest hint of wheelspin in automatic mode. Very annoying. I wind up driving in manual mode all the time, so why not save money and get the manual?

Steve Spence
Very grouchy sometimes in responses to the throttle. And that’s about the only negative to this great, great car.

Tony Quiroga
The M3 didn’t work very well in deep snow—and the winter tires did little to help. But in snow less deep, the M3 tracked beautifully and worked remarkably well.

Track Tires

Here are two truths about self-respecting M3 coupe owners: They would not even consider the optional sunroof that eliminates the distinctive carbon-fiber roof, and it’s likely they will end up driving their cars at a racetrack. That second sure thing happened to us as pseudo-owners, and after a handful of laps we’d obliterated the tread on the stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires. They simply can’t cope with the amount of heat generated by this 3600-pound thrill machine at its flaming limits.



So we went looking for stickier, street-legal track tires—commonly referred to as “R compound”—but finding them in either the M3’s standard 18-inch size or the optional 19-inch dimension was difficult. However, Michelin has one, a BMW-specific version of its Pilot Sport Cup tires, in only the 19-inch size. In fact, these tires originated with the Euro-only, lightweight CSL edition of the previous-generation M3.

Available only as a replacement tire, this “Sport Cup +” version (fronts, $353 each; rears, $416) features additional grooving in the tread, which compromises stiffness to be friendlier in the rain (which it is) compared with an off-the-shelf Sport Cup. And these tires are also able to withstand higher temperatures than the stock PS2s. Unfortunately, skidpad results were no better with the Sport Cups (0.96 g), and braking (156 feet) was a bit worse.



On a racetrack or a back road, it’s a beautifully balanced and hugely entertaining machine.


We returned to the 1.9-mile Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan, where we’d chewed up our stock tires, with much improved results. Although it didn’t feel like there was a whole lot more stick in the corners (our best time was a 1:38.1), more important, lap times remained consistent. But after almost 1000 street miles and a couple of dozen hard laps at GingerMan, the fronts (see photo) had 2/32nds of an inch of tread left. The rears fared better, only burning through half (3/32-inch) of their tread. Even though the BMW-specific Sport Cups didn’t outgrip the PS2s, having a tire that’s consistent and lasts significantly longer during abusive lapping is indeed a boon for the track-rat M3 owner. ——Dave VanderWerp
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      12-29-2009, 01:22 PM   #2
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Can you please scan and post the article? I would be really interested to read it if not available online.
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      12-29-2009, 01:50 PM   #3
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http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...term_road_test
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      12-29-2009, 02:56 PM   #4
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Just one more reason why I'm buying this car. And just one more reason that it'll be.....(ouch, here it comes.....) a 6MT.

Here's to the best car in the world
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      12-29-2009, 05:14 PM   #5
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OK folks, let's please not turn this thread into a DCT vs. 6MT argument.

Thanks.
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      12-29-2009, 05:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
OK folks, let's please not turn this thread into a DCT vs. 6MT argument.

Thanks.
+1

It's a great car regardless of tranny.
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      12-29-2009, 05:44 PM   #7
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I am about to turn one year with 2008 E90 ///M3, 6MT and would agree with C&D that it is the best all around car there is (period). The E90 is more practical than the E92 but that is about it. Funny to see that their iDrive knob also self-destructed as mine just did the same thing earlier in the week.

Love the car and it is as bomb proof as they come. My 6MT has been great though I wish the throw was a bit shorter and a bit crisper- I am waiting for BMW Performance to make a short shift kit.... Having driven the M-DCT, it is a great tranny as well; can't go wrong!

-M
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      12-29-2009, 07:04 PM   #8
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Great review, the m3 is an amazing car.

"Based on our experience, the stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s should last roughly 25,000 miles for the rears and 35,000 for the fronts."

How the hell? When i used to run PS2's on any of my cars they would last 15,000 miles at the most on the rear, and i thought that was a long time.
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      12-29-2009, 07:05 PM   #9
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I wonder what skidpad/braking results the car would have if paired with RE-11's or AD08's.
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      12-29-2009, 07:16 PM   #10
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Very good and complete review. thx for posting.
Do have to agree with: "One auto-shop teacher accelerated very gingerly and got the M3 to buck and hitch like a 16-year-old learning to drive a manual."
I have had it happen 5or6 times, very annoying, wife hates it. I know people must look at me taking off slow thinking, that dude cannot drive a manual.
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      12-29-2009, 07:23 PM   #11
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The article is right on - almost 1 year with my car and it is absolutely fantastic -- and so far no issues....and the M3 sedan is as practical as they come and more comfortable than was my 330i sport package....a great daily driver/ cruiser and a blast on open highways....yes there are few faster rides out there....I have driven my friend's 2009 911 Turbo (harsher ride) and M6 (SMG).....great power/ handling in both but frankly the M3 daily driver comfort/ 4-door practicality/ looks plus the M button combo to turn on brute nature/ handling simply are unbeatable.....(M6 SMG is simply light years behind DCT and very annoying/ jerky in lower gears)....
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      12-29-2009, 07:24 PM   #12
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nice read, I share some of the experiences
thks for sharing
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      12-29-2009, 07:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinTurboXI View Post
Great review, the m3 is an amazing car.

"Based on our experience, the stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s should last roughly 25,000 miles for the rears and 35,000 for the fronts."

How the hell? When i used to run PS2's on any of my cars they would last 15,000 miles at the most on the rear, and i thought that was a long time.
+1

Quote:
Tony Quiroga
The M3 didn’t work very well in deep snow—
Did he really complain that it doesn't work well in snow... REALLY??
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      12-29-2009, 07:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinTurboXI View Post
Great review, the m3 is an amazing car.

"Based on our experience, the stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s should last roughly 25,000 miles for the rears and 35,000 for the fronts."

How the hell? When i used to run PS2's on any of my cars they would last 15,000 miles at the most on the rear, and i thought that was a long time.
+1..my ps2 rears are shot at 8,500 miles.
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      12-29-2009, 09:03 PM   #15
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Hmmm. Can anyone confirm the $245 Sirius radio install? I was quoted something much farther north than that.
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      12-29-2009, 09:10 PM   #16
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not hating or anything but when has C&D not been biased towards BMWs?
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      12-29-2009, 09:18 PM   #17
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Hmmm. Can anyone confirm the $245 Sirius radio install? I was quoted something much farther north than that.
I agree, that doesn't sound right at all. That might have been just labor... I think the tuner by itself is 6 or 7 hundred or more.
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      12-29-2009, 09:51 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinTurboXI View Post
Great review, the m3 is an amazing car.

"Based on our experience, the stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s should last roughly 25,000 miles for the rears and 35,000 for the fronts."

How the hell? When i used to run PS2's on any of my cars they would last 15,000 miles at the most on the rear, and i thought that was a long time.
+1. 15k for rears is about it, and I don't drive hard all the time.
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      12-29-2009, 09:51 PM   #19
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not hating or anything but when has C&D not been biased towards BMWs?
Exactly when the Audi S4 stomped all over the 335 with sport package and won the comparison. I also remember a few years ago Audi S4 beat out the E46 M3.
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      12-29-2009, 10:00 PM   #20
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Great article!
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      12-29-2009, 10:07 PM   #21
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Epic pictures. One of the best set I've seen for the M3. Great angles show good stance and body detail.

Oh yeah, nice write up too lol.
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      12-29-2009, 10:07 PM   #22
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+1



Did he really complain that it doesn't work well in snow... REALLY??

ha ha !! I was thinking the same thing!
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