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      11-30-2011, 11:37 AM   #1
mkiv808
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Test drove M3, have some questions

I am considering consolidating down to one car. Mostly due to a lack of free time and boring commute, and less so to save more money. I currently have an E90 325i and a Cayman S.

Overall driving impressions were good. It's not to the level of the Cayman S in overall driving experience, obviously, but it is more practical and still fun. It's also more nondescript, which is both good and bad. Unwanted attention is bad, but most people just see it as a 3-series. Call me shallow, but I do like the raves and looks the CS gets.

This car was pretty stripped down. It only had premium and EDC. I kept it on the stiffest setting to get the most of the handling. Felt pretty good. I actually thought the ride quality was a bit better than my 325i, or at least less harsh. I'm sure with non-runflats it would be pretty comfortable for daily driving. At least by my standards.

My questions are as follows:

1. I understand that the tech option allows you to adjust steering feel? Can you tell me a little more about this? I like some weight in my steering, and felt that the steering was a little light for my tastes on this car. Would the adjustable steering give me more weight than in the car I drove?

2. The only thing I hated was the clutch and shifter feel. Especially the shifter, it was IMO abysmal. I've owned a lot of sports cars and that's, by far, the worst I've ever used. Long shifts, loose and felt like rubber. The clutch engagement was a little strange, but I feel like I could get used to it. And besides, I believe the spring mod helps with clutch feel? But I've seen mixed reviews on short shifters. I'm not sure if it's the shifter's fault or the user's? I know some people don't like the feel that a short shifter is all about and prefer a "smoother" shift. I like a really tight, short throw with the feeling of gated metal. The best shifters I've ever used were a Callaway shifter on my C6 Corvette, and the OEM short shifter for the Cayman. Will I be able to find something like that? I would do the ZCP knob too.

3. I posted this question in the deals thread in the buying section, but no one bit. Am I unrealistic to think I can get a CPO 2009 E92 with at least the tech package and EDC and low miles for under 50k? My only other requirements are white exterior and carbon fiber roof (I'd go for the stormtrooper look with black wheels and black spoiler), so it might take some time to find the right car - and I'm fine with that. But I want to keep it in the high 40's or I'll just keep the cars I have for the time being.
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      11-30-2011, 11:48 AM   #2
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1. I don't have M Drive which I believe controls how firm the steering is so I cannot comment. However, I find when I move EDC to Sport (the mode you had it in) the steering becomes more direct and firm.

2. I test drove a manual and felt the same way. For this reason I treated the transmission choice (DCT or Manual) as a throw away - meaning I would accept either trans and this allowed me to focus on getting the best car (mileage, options, colour etc)

3. Your price requirement seems reasonable especially given that US consumers typically pay a bit less that we do here. I think your colour preference won't hurt you that much because Alpine White is probably the most common colour and many people optioned the CF roof. My guess is that you will start to see 4 year lease returns on MY 2009s start popping up in early 2012 to correspond to the M3's launch in 2008.

Good luck searching and post some pics of your Cayman S.
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      11-30-2011, 11:54 AM   #3
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Good luck searching and post some pics of your Cayman S.
Here she is:



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      11-30-2011, 11:55 AM   #4
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1. In the 2008/09 M3s with M Drive (not sure about if it's included with MDrive in 2011/2012, or if M Drive is standard), car comes with Servotronic "Sport" setting which makes steering heavier and makes it feel like more like a car with less power steering assist. It's a good feature.

2. It's not you, it's the car, many have complained. Rubbery shifter, wierd clutch engagment. Search for 6MT driving tips (not that you need tips) on this forum and many have complained about it.

3. CPO? probably not, but I don't think CPO is worth the extra money paid, without CPO, you might be about to get one in high $40k range, refer to this thread for current prices:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=366319
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      11-30-2011, 12:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkiv808 View Post
This car was pretty stripped down. It only had premium and EDC. I kept it on the stiffest setting to get the most of the handling. Felt pretty good. I actually thought the ride quality was a bit better than my 325i, or at least less harsh. I'm sure with non-runflats it would be pretty comfortable for daily driving. At least by my standards.
1. This car already comes with non-runflats. Only the standard 3 Series have runflats. However, M3s for a while came with either Contis, PS2s, or one other brand I can't remember (the brand you got wasn't related to options or anything, just whatever the factory had available that day), and overall opinion seems to be that the PS2s rule the roost and the others are noticeably worse. I believe it wasn't until 2010 or 2011 that BMW switched to PS2s exclusively, so while you may not have PS2s you definitely won't have RFTs -- unless the previous owner was a total moron and got them, I guess.

2. You might actually prefer Normal EDC for driving. In non-ZCP cars, Sport is fixed at a particular stiffness, whereas Comfort and Normal EDC are variable. The interesting thing though is that the maximum stiffness of Normal is actually STIFFER than Sport, so many have found that it's better for both regular and on-track driving. On ZCP cars, Sport is also a variable setting.
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      11-30-2011, 01:01 PM   #6
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ZCP gear knob improves the shifting a lot!
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      11-30-2011, 01:08 PM   #7
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Funny reading this post. As my lease is ending I am faced with the decision of buying or return my M. I love the car but was contemplating looking into a Cayman S.
I didn't bother because after reading a bit...I felt the M still provided a better all around value.

A bit off topic: but can you tell a bit about the Cayman: likes/dislikes and how it feels versus the m3.


Thanks,

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      11-30-2011, 01:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdosu View Post
1. In the 2008/09 M3s with M Drive (not sure about if it's included with MDrive in 2011/2012, or if M Drive is standard), car comes with Servotronic "Sport" setting which makes steering heavier and makes it feel like more like a car with less power steering assist. It's a good feature.
Mdosu: you think it feels heavier with servotronic on? I felt the opposite way, especially at speed. For that reason I haven't enabled it in prob a year, maybe I'll have to try it again on my drive home today to compare now that I'm used to keeping it off.

I also just run my EDC at comfort or sport settings.

I have clutch spring removal (2008 only) and ZHP knob, and while it is livable, I miss the gearbox on my integra, G35 or S4 in comparison.

But overall I LOVE this car, it does everything so well.
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      11-30-2011, 01:48 PM   #9
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A bit off topic: but can you tell a bit about the Cayman: likes/dislikes and how it feels versus the m3.
It is better to drive in every way except for power: driving position, steering feel, handling, turn-in, brake feel, clutch/shifter feel, etc. It's also better built, and I can say that because I own both an E9X and the Cayman. The interior materials and quality is just plain better on the Cayman. It's been more reliable than my E90, but I do have a first-year, so that might have something to do with it.

I guess the only negatives are that it's a 2 seater, doesn't have the power (but the power/weight ratio is close), and limited utility. Believe me, I strongly considered just getting a newer Cayman and using it as my only car, but then I would have to give up hobbies like skiing and biking (unless I wanted a hideous roof rack), would be limited in cargo capacity for bigger Lowes/Ikea-style runs, and could only take one person at a time.
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      11-30-2011, 01:56 PM   #10
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Mdosu: you think it feels heavier with servotronic on? I felt the opposite way, especially at speed. For that reason I haven't enabled it in prob a year, maybe I'll have to try it again on my drive home today to compare now that I'm used to keeping it off.
Steering is unquestionably heavier with Servotronic in Sport mode compared to Normal. I'm not sure how it could feel lighter. I use Normal for city and casual driving and Sport for spirited/track driving since I feel Normal is the perfect weight for the former and Sport is the perfect weight for the latter.
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      11-30-2011, 02:04 PM   #11
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1. This car already comes with non-runflats. Only the standard 3 Series have runflats. However, M3s for a while came with either Contis, PS2s, or one other brand I can't remember (the brand you got wasn't related to options or anything, just whatever the factory had available that day), and overall opinion seems to be that the PS2s rule the roost and the others are noticeably worse. I believe it wasn't until 2010 or 2011 that BMW switched to PS2s exclusively, so while you may not have PS2s you definitely won't have RFTs -- unless the previous owner was a total moron and got them, I guess.

Just as a data point, my 12/10 production M3 was delivered with Pirelli P-Zeros.
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      11-30-2011, 02:05 PM   #12
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Guess I'll be taking the long way home tonight to give it another shot!
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      11-30-2011, 02:19 PM   #13
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I believe it wasn't until 2010 or 2011 that BMW switched to PS2s exclusively
That would be incorrect. Owners all the way through 2012 are getting either the PS2 or Contis and in some instances have gotten Pirellis as noted above.
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      11-30-2011, 02:30 PM   #14
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You must live in a small place. Never heard of anyone oohing and awing or even taking a second look at a coxster or boxster. Everyone and their grandmother drives a cayman these days. I see much fewer m3s actually
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      11-30-2011, 02:31 PM   #15
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I went from a 997.2 S to the M3, so I figure that I made a choice that you are trying to make right now!

I liked the 911S, but it wore on me after a while. Sure the steering was wonderful, and the shifter was a revelation compared to the M3, but the P-car had so many weaknesses for a $100K car. It was nice on track and at autoX, but it failed on the daily commute. Noisy, rattly and harsh....cramped, no trunk.....

I can't say that I see where you liked the interior of the Porsche. Unless you have full leather, your interior doors are rubber. There are huge gaps all over the dash. (next to the nav, I could see wiring back there) The seats look like Vinyl and the center console has the cheapest plastic I had even seen in a car. Add all the rattles, and it just did not cut it. My wife (who knows nothing about cars) actually laughed when she first got into the 911. She said that as bad as my 2002 M3 was, this was far, far worse. (her fav was the 2001 S4 of all my recent cars)

I also never liked the handling balance of the 911, which can't compete with your cayman! The cayman has a truly sweet chassis, and I don't know how you could find a better one at this price point. In the 911 you spend all of your time trying to figure out how to manage weight front to rear. Fun for a while, but slow.

The technology package on the porsche was also bad beyond belief. I added every tech option, but the stereo was awful, the ipod integration a disaster, and the nav was so-so.

It also goes without saying that the 911 should have power seats standard!

With the M3, I also dislike the shifter. It is the classic BMW feel. Love it or hate it. It also makes the little clunks and rattles that Pcars don't.

The flat 6 in the porsche (at least the one with the DFI) was boring. I could not find the 385 HP. Not sure where it was. Felt very ordinary. The M3's V8 is special........very special. I did not want to miss out on owning one.

What pushed me to the M3, was the fact that in 90% of the driving situations that I am in, it is a better car that the porsche. The only thing I will miss is the delicate and tactile steering. For the fact that it is $30K less than the 911, I think I can cope with the loss!

Just my opinion of course. (I will be buying the 991 chassis in 2 years. Now THAT is a 911!)
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      11-30-2011, 02:55 PM   #16
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I can't say that I see where you liked the interior of the Porsche. Unless you have full leather, your interior doors are rubber. There are huge gaps all over the dash. (next to the nav, I could see wiring back there) The seats look like Vinyl and the center console has the cheapest plastic I had even seen in a car. Add all the rattles, and it just did not cut it. My wife (who knows nothing about cars) actually laughed when she first got into the 911. She said that as bad as my 2002 M3 was, this was far, far worse. (her fav was the 2001 S4 of all my recent cars)
I do have full leather, which looks awesome. I would not buy another Porsche without it, as it makes the interior feel much more upscale.

That surprises me the build quality on your 977.2, especially the gap with the nav! No gap issues on my car. Everything is perfectly spaced. When I push the center dash area on my BMW, it creaks and flexes. When I push it on the Cayman dash, it's totally solid. The BMW creaks in multiple places over bad roads, and the Cayman has no rattles, squeaks or creaks to speak of. I guess it varies, but my car is very solid - like it was honed out of marble.

My only complaint on the Porsche is the plastic they use for the center console, window switch/door handle area and around the ignition. It looks great when new, but chips way too easily. Then again, the matte plastic above the shifter on the BMW also scratches very easily, but not quite as bad as on the Porsche. I think in that case they went with looks over durability.
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      11-30-2011, 03:00 PM   #17
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Just as a data point, my 12/10 production M3 was delivered with Pirelli P-Zeros.
Ah yes, that was the other brand I was trying to think of!

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That would be incorrect. Owners all the way through 2012 are getting either the PS2 or Contis and in some instances have gotten Pirellis as noted above.
Hmm, interesting. Good to know, thanks!
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      11-30-2011, 03:06 PM   #18
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You must live in a small place. Never heard of anyone oohing and awing or even taking a second look at a coxster or boxster. Everyone and their grandmother drives a cayman these days. I see much fewer m3s actually
I live in a suburb in the NYC-metro area with a population of 60k, between 2 cities at 120k+ and work in one of the most affluent towns in the US, so no - not a small place. I get comments/thumbs up/etc almost daily on my car.
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      11-30-2011, 03:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
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You must live in a small place. Never heard of anyone oohing and awing or even taking a second look at a coxster or boxster. Everyone and their grandmother drives a cayman these days. I see much fewer m3s actually
I really have to agree with this. I don't think they're anything special when I see them. Cayman is just a boxster with a hard top imo.
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      11-30-2011, 03:14 PM   #20
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2. Past Cayman S and a 911S owner here. If you want better clutch shifter feel do these three things and you'll be satisfied; Clutch delete mod, zhp shift knob, a ssk. It will be WORLDS better than stock, but no S2K/Cayman/911 shifter. Personally I felt that the cayman's shifter with the oem SSK was at a 8.5/10, the oem M3 shifter and clutch feel is a 3. These mods will bring it up to a solid 7/10.
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      11-30-2011, 03:28 PM   #21
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I am considering consolidating down to one car. Mostly due to a lack of free time and boring commute, and less so to save more money. I currently have an E90 325i and a Cayman S.

Overall driving impressions were good. It's not to the level of the Cayman S in overall driving experience, obviously, but it is more practical and still fun. It's also more nondescript, which is both good and bad. Unwanted attention is bad, but most people just see it as a 3-series. Call me shallow, but I do like the raves and looks the CS gets.

This car was pretty stripped down. It only had premium and EDC. I kept it on the stiffest setting to get the most of the handling. Felt pretty good. I actually thought the ride quality was a bit better than my 325i, or at least less harsh. I'm sure with non-runflats it would be pretty comfortable for daily driving. At least by my standards.

My questions are as follows:

1. I understand that the tech option allows you to adjust steering feel? Can you tell me a little more about this? I like some weight in my steering, and felt that the steering was a little light for my tastes on this car. Would the adjustable steering give me more weight than in the car I drove?

2. The only thing I hated was the clutch and shifter feel. Especially the shifter, it was IMO abysmal. I've owned a lot of sports cars and that's, by far, the worst I've ever used. Long shifts, loose and felt like rubber. The clutch engagement was a little strange, but I feel like I could get used to it. And besides, I believe the spring mod helps with clutch feel? But I've seen mixed reviews on short shifters. I'm not sure if it's the shifter's fault or the user's? I know some people don't like the feel that a short shifter is all about and prefer a "smoother" shift. I like a really tight, short throw with the feeling of gated metal. The best shifters I've ever used were a Callaway shifter on my C6 Corvette, and the OEM short shifter for the Cayman. Will I be able to find something like that? I would do the ZCP knob too.

3. I posted this question in the deals thread in the buying section, but no one bit. Am I unrealistic to think I can get a CPO 2009 E92 with at least the tech package and EDC and low miles for under 50k? My only other requirements are white exterior and carbon fiber roof (I'd go for the stormtrooper look with black wheels and black spoiler), so it might take some time to find the right car - and I'm fine with that. But I want to keep it in the high 40's or I'll just keep the cars I have for the time being.
As mentioned previously, no run flats in the M3.

1) Never driven a M3 without MDM so I can't speak to how the steering in those feel compared to when the servotronic is in sport mode.

2) The clutch/shifter feel sucks. Engagement point is awkward and shifts are long and kind of rubbery. I think you are referring to the ZHP knob, and that is definitely a must do; shifts were a tiny bit shorter but it felt a lot more solid putting it into each gate if that makes any sense.

3) I just got mine 4 months ago and looked for a while before that. I think it's going to be very difficult to end up in a CPO 09 in the high 40's. 08's are a different story and you could probably find a few in the mid 40's, CPO'd, low miles, and fully loaded. I would think a non-CPO'd decent 09 in the very high 40's isn't out of the question, but you are going to have to be willing to have a pretty wide search radius.
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      11-30-2011, 03:45 PM   #22
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3) I just got mine 4 months ago and looked for a while before that. I think it's going to be very difficult to end up in a CPO 09 in the high 40's. 08's are a different story and you could probably find a few in the mid 40's, CPO'd, low miles, and fully loaded. I would think a non-CPO'd decent 09 in the very high 40's isn't out of the question, but you are going to have to be willing to have a pretty wide search radius.
Gotcha. In that case I might just wait until next summer. That way I can sell the Cayman during warm weather, which never hurts - and I'll get a little more enjoyment out of it as a side effect. With 09's coming off lease, I'd imagine the prices should drop significantly next year?
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