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      03-01-2014, 06:55 PM   #1
Goombeh
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New 4 series is so close to the old M3 in terms of driving dynamics......

This is what one BMW sales person told me in the interests of sparking mine for the new 4 series. I also read a post recently where the same remark was made by a new 4 series owner.

Well having just completed a drive day with both cars on hand to spank around a world class race circuit, can I just say.......... what utter rubbish!!

We started the M course down at sunny (and typically windy) Philip Island GP circuit in Vic.

I won't go through the entire experience, but I will go as far as to say that it probably wasn't fair to put me in the M3 for the first session at the start of the day, and then the 428i at the session to finish. In between we did agility tests, skid control and braking.

After the long, though incredibly short feeling day, I was left with some indelible impressions on both vehicles.

The M3 is an utterly stunning machine, I never really grew to love it as a road car, and every time I drove one, it never really convinced me, but my word was it superb in this environ. I came home and started looking at them in the classifieds such was its impact.

The engine was sensational, the DCT was brilliant (and I'm a manual guy), and the overall balance, grip and composure was just stunning.

The car provided so much confidence even out there that all four cars in our group were punting pretty hard behind the instructor without too many concerns.

So then there was the new 4 series, gleaming, sexy long body, wide hips, and although I was a little disappointed to see the 428i badge on the back instead of the 435, when it came to driving it, I was mighty impressed with the new engine.

The 2.0 Turbo is a great motor and was not one of the reasons I felt the 4 was not a patch on the M3.

It was everything else, and I mean everything. From the way the steering felt, not just at initial turn in, but everywhere, the M3's steering is sublime and full of feel. The car feels light and nimble and the road surface is felt through the rim. The 4 on the other hand felt completely numb in comparison, I'm sure it's not that bad, but back to back, it was amplified. It was overly light and really lacked feel.

The suspension, set in sport mode, was still too soft and uncontrolled for the track, (I know, how many people take one of these to the track), but nonetheless, these are my thoughts, I'm certain it would be nice and compliant in the real world however. The car was balanced beautifully as are most BMWs, and this came through on track, what it didn't seem to have was enough body control for this situation, the brakes also felt to lack the bite of the M3's which was to be expected. Although this wasn't fair as I'm certain the M3's standard brakes had some race pads or semi-race pads fitted. However they took a light pounding and never lost bite, just didn't feel quite as strong. Again, possible better compliance for the road though.

The instructors took people for laps in the M3s at the close of the day and I was in one of the last runs, and the brakes were still incredible, and these instructors were doing some serious leaning on them. I can't see any need after that demonstration why anyone would feel they would have to upgrade the brakes on their M3. They are immense units and with some comp pads and possibly fluid, are more than up to the task for the circuit.

So to sum it up, I think the 4 series, although unnecessarily large for me, would make a very nice road car, still a little soft and compliant for my tastes, and lacking the rawness I love in cars, but a nice car. I think the 4 cyl is exceptional and would imagine it to be more than adequate for the road. The 435 must be a ripper though. The steering is a little numb but parking would be easy as it's very light.

In terms of style, it's a pretty car, the lines a little soft but pointless me saying as aesthetics are such a personal thing.

And what of the M3, a design that has been around for what, 6 or 7 years? Well in this environment, it shone, it was raw and real, it was composed yet violent, it tickled all the senses, the sound of that V8, the response of the throttle, the steering feel, the momentous braking effect, and the surreal chassis control and balance mid corner.

They've become an incredible bargain on the second hand market now, and if I were looking at a 4 series, there's no way I could go past a secondhand M3 for the same or less money. They don't even compare to each other, don't care what anyone says. But there are other factors of course such as warranties, leases, new car feel and image, I understand all these and they are very personal, but in terms of old school driving pleasure, there is no comparison.
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      03-01-2014, 07:07 PM   #2
ss134
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Great write up but I'm surprised you were surprised!!
A series car will never feel like an M car, it's common knowledge.
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      03-01-2014, 07:16 PM   #3
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Great write up but I'm surprised you were surprised!!
A series car will never feel like an M car, it's common knowledge.
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      03-01-2014, 07:19 PM   #4
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I'm surprised you were surprised!!
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      03-01-2014, 07:36 PM   #5
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Did I come across as surprised? Didn't mean to come across as surprised. I wasn't surprised. Was just as I expected. Just wanted to give some impressions.

Was keen to try the 4 though.
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      03-01-2014, 07:43 PM   #6
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E46 or E92 M are better to drive than a new 4 series.

my mom drives a F30 335i, awful in terms of steering feel. engine is plan jane ,lack of character. although she loves it.
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      03-01-2014, 07:43 PM   #7
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Outstanding job on the write up. A ///M car is more than 15 large more than a series car......it's driving brilliance when you have them close to or at the limit. And yes I understand the M is starting to stand for marketing, but at the end of the day most people would walk away feeling like you did .......Phil
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      03-01-2014, 07:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
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E46 or E92 M are better to drive than a new 4 series.

my mom drives a F30 335i, awful in terms of steering feel. engine is plan jane ,lack of character. although she loves it.
any M car is better to drive than a regular series car in terms of driving experience. i've driven the new 4 and I liked it. thought it was great for what it was
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      03-01-2014, 08:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
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E46 or E92 M are better to drive than a new 4 series.

my mom drives a F30 335i, awful in terms of steering feel. engine is plan jane ,lack of character. although she loves it.
Something tells me mom would hate the E46 or E92 M3.
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      03-01-2014, 08:32 PM   #10
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Nice write-up OP! But about not seeing why anyone would upgrade the brakes, I don't know what your track experience level is, but you'd see the need for at least pads and fluid before very long. I suspect even the instructors weren't running those cars as hard as they could. The fact is that a good instructor even just taking it easy can still be very impressive, especially to those who have little to no track experience. I have an instructor friend who tracks an E36 M3 and an E28 M535i (gray market import). He's constantly had newbies think that those cars must be slow and boring compared to other stuff there (including their own cars), until he takes those people out and blows their minds -- not just because he goes so fast in general, but of course because he can go so fast in such old cars. That experience is incidentally a great cure for the "I would be so much faster if I had this car/mod/whatever" syndrome.

A BBK is nice because these heavy cars can cause brake fade (especially on brake-heavy tracks and/or on cars fitted with stickier rubber), plus they make pad changes overall easier and the fixed caliper design means more even wear on inboard and outboard pads as well as better pedal feel overall.

Anyway, glad to hear you had a great time, and I'm not at all surprised that the salesman was talking nonsense.
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      03-01-2014, 10:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Nice write-up OP! But about not seeing why anyone would upgrade the brakes, I don't know what your track experience level is, but you'd see the need for at least pads and fluid before very long.
Thanks Jph. I'm certainly no seasoned racer, but I do get the old Nissan to the track few times a year so I'm still very much an amateur.

And you're spot on, as mentioned in my post, they were definitely running race pads and fluid so that would definitely be a must for hard track use.

My point was the need for a BBK, however as you point out, yes, brake feel and longer sessions may require this, but you would be running the car very hard for long sessions to run out of original brakes I would imagine.

Thanks for the feedback.

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      03-01-2014, 10:48 PM   #12
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Are those the carbon fiber hood from the CRT on those E92 M3s?
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      03-02-2014, 03:01 AM   #13
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Are those the carbon fiber hood from the CRT on those E92 M3s?
They were just a carbon textured wrap as far as I could tell mate.
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      03-02-2014, 06:33 AM   #14
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Was the 4 running in run flats as well? As someone who never tracks, and uses my M as a daily driver, would I be better in a 4 or a 2? I could ditch the run flats and install beter brake pads.

I had a loaner 328 and was surprised how much grunt the little 4 had. It has as much torque as an E46 M3. The on off was a joke though and the steering was light (though I guess this is what the market wants).
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      03-24-2014, 01:19 AM   #15
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Was the 4 running in run flats as well? As someone who never tracks, and uses my M as a daily driver, would I be better in a 4 or a 2? I could ditch the run flats and install beter brake pads.

I had a loaner 328 and was surprised how much grunt the little 4 had. It has as much torque as an E46 M3. The on off was a joke though and the steering was light (though I guess this is what the market wants).
I didn't check but I'd assume the 4 had RFs.

As I live in Aust-nanny state-ralia, I think the M cars generally are too much car for sole use on the street. Our State Police had a crack down on minor speeding (that's a few over the already low speed limits) not long ago for goodness sakes.

But what I learned from the day was that they are brilliant for the track and that the non M cars have a very different focus, which we know.

Depending on space requirements, I think the 2 is going to be a sensation little car for the street, right size, punchy (even with the 4T), and still beautifully balanced.

So if you never take it to the track? There is still fun to be had, but the track is where you will walk away from it with a real appreciation for what it can do.

I have an old Datsun for the track, but there's no way this little 1er is only ever going to see the street.
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      03-24-2014, 01:37 AM   #16
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Please post the link to the other review. I want to thrash it.
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      03-24-2014, 08:16 AM   #17
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Nice writeup!

You can't judge a car's track handling with RFT tires though. That's like running a marathon with a convict ball tied to your ankle.
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      03-25-2014, 01:20 AM   #18
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Nice writeup!

You can't judge a car's track handling with RFT tires though. That's like running a marathon with a convict ball tied to your ankle.
hahah yeah that's true.
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