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      10-01-2012, 02:15 PM   #1
clubracer6
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E46 M3 vs F30 328i M-Sport

If the E46 M3 vs 328i has been discussed already, I am sorry, I did search.

Some background - I was planning on adding an E46 M3 convertible (no SMG!) to my current 07 Passat Sport 6 speed sedan. Some of my favorite cars have been my BMW's, but really loved my 330i ZHP which I had new and my sorely missed E39 M5. Had a 07 328i sport that I liked a lot, just a nice car, not exciting by any means and no ZHP. I have been racing cars (currently a C6 Corvette) for about 20 years...

I had a Boxster S, but want 4 seats for my toy and never had an E46 M3.

But I keep reading about the 328i and have been thinking, maybe an M-Sport version. I would give me the BMW Dynamics I want, a new car, save some insurance $$ and still give me the good MPG like I get in my VW. Plus just one car, with a full warranty, vs two cars with no warranty and both not exactly low maint.

So I guess, have any of you had an E46 M3 before owning a F30 328i? Is this an apples and oranges comparison with a 100hp deficit?
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      10-01-2012, 02:28 PM   #2
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Your all over the places...first pick whats more important to you.
a very good avery day car or a very good track car
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      10-01-2012, 02:33 PM   #3
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I absolutely do not want a track car, hence the convertible. I have a full blown race car and don't really enjoy track days anymore.

I am trying to decide if the F30 328i M-Sport can offer me anything close to what an E46 M3 could in driving experience. It won't be as good, but is it close enough that I would be ok with giving up some HP and the drop top experience. The benefit would be the simplicity of having one car and eliminate repair bills for 4 years.
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      10-01-2012, 02:47 PM   #4
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i think you just answered your own question. go with 328 Msport. very nice looking car with good mpg and full warranty to keep you sleeping at night.
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      10-01-2012, 03:13 PM   #5
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It's not so much about looks as it is driving dynamics... Turn in, communication, balance... Is the 328i 90% of what an E46 M3 is or 60%?
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      10-01-2012, 03:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clubracer6 View Post
It's not so much about looks as it is driving dynamics... Turn in, communication, balance... Is the 328i 90% of what an E46 M3 is or 60%?
i would say close to 90%...but a few small mods will bring it even closer
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      10-01-2012, 03:19 PM   #7
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You're really going to have to drive one of each and decide for yourself...subjective questions you ask.

Just make sure to drive a 328 w/ the adaptive or at least "sports" suspension
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      10-01-2012, 03:21 PM   #8
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Considering I almost bought an e46 m3 a month ago before my 328i msport, I think I may have some valid input to give...

The e46 is a great car there's no hiding that, it has decent speed and looks great. The problem is that it is getting older now and I didn't want a dated car (and everything that comes with an older car). Think of it this way, you keep the e46 m3 for a few years and bam, it's a decade old. The 2013 M-sport I have is fantastic, the ONLY thing it is lacking in my eyes is speed/sound (tone). The great thing is though, you can throw on a downpipe and a tune and make 40whp/65wtq more which solves that problem (you will make 270whp/305wtq). Another great thing that swayed me towards the new bmw vs the old is all the tech the new car is stuffed with.
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      10-01-2012, 05:51 PM   #9
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As an E46 M3 convertible owner, the F30 328i is not comparable at all. They are 2 completely different cars. The engines alone are on opposite ends of the driveability spectrum not to mention the suspensions.

If it were my only car, I would choose the 328i. However, the M3 is my weekend/fun car and is perfect for that role.
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      10-01-2012, 06:15 PM   #10
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I own an E46 M3 coupe and I'm seriously considering a 328i M Sport as a second car. To me, the 328i shares some of the M3's personality—sharp, responsive, and fun to drive—but is a little slower without being slow. The 328i is also a lot more comfy and is just not as raw feeling as the M3. Yes, it's less connected a drive than the M3, but that's a given with any modern car. The upside is that the 328i displays a really high level of fit and finish. I really like a lot of the small details that they've worked on in this car. And if you end up getting the 6MT, the one in the 328i has a much nicer feel and shorter throws than the M3. Just my two cents.
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      10-01-2012, 06:21 PM   #11
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The steering feel of the E46 M3 is not duplicated in the F30s. There's just no way around it. That's not to say the F30 is bad, but there's definitely less road feedback. You'll have to decide if the difference is "too bad".
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      10-01-2012, 06:23 PM   #12
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Well it all depends what your needs are. I used to have a E46 M3 'vert. I had a kid so I sold the M3 and got a M-sport 328xi. They are definitely not the same cars but the F30's do drive nice as a daily driver. Power is good enough for everyday driving and you get good MPG... you wont go wrong with either car, but its all about what your needs are...
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      10-01-2012, 06:33 PM   #13
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Good feedback! The e46 m would be a summer toy to go along with my Passat. I do need a 4 door car, but could have a 2nd as a toy. I am just considering not having two cars and maybe just having one. I like the e60 and e90 m cars, but don't want to be filling up every 250 miles when it's my only car. I think I just need to go drive the f30 m sport some more. I loved my e36 and this has the same power...
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      10-01-2012, 07:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clubracer6 View Post
If the E46 M3 vs 328i has been discussed already, I am sorry, I did search.

Some background - I was planning on adding an E46 M3 convertible (no SMG!) to my current 07 Passat Sport 6 speed sedan. Some of my favorite cars have been my BMW's, but really loved my 330i ZHP which I had new and my sorely missed E39 M5. Had a 07 328i sport that I liked a lot, just a nice car, not exciting by any means and no ZHP. I have been racing cars (currently a C6 Corvette) for about 20 years...

I had a Boxster S, but want 4 seats for my toy and never had an E46 M3.

But I keep reading about the 328i and have been thinking, maybe an M-Sport version. I would give me the BMW Dynamics I want, a new car, save some insurance $$ and still give me the good MPG like I get in my VW. Plus just one car, with a full warranty, vs two cars with no warranty and both not exactly low maint.

So I guess, have any of you had an E46 M3 before owning a F30 328i? Is this an apples and oranges comparison with a 100hp deficit?
Never owned an M3 but drove plenty of E46 models as I was going to get one, but then decided on a new 09 135i with new warranty.
The F30 328i is not a replacement for the M3i. It's not so much about the power difference, it's about the chassis tuning and how the driver interacts and feels driving the car.

The 328i with sport suspension is a very nice and fun car to drive.
But it feels nothing like the E46 M3. The M3's suspension for daily driving can be brutal, it's very stiff and sits low. The M3 rewards you though when you find good twisty roads to drive it on, that's when it's in it's element.
The steering is amazing, direct, accurate, firm, and plenty of feel for what's going on in the front. With it's chassis and suspension tuning the M3 also communicates what is going on in the rear as well. There's more driver to machine connection in that M3.
If you like the feel of a track prepped car the M3 will come closer, or course not the same, to that feel, much more so than the 328i.

The 328i has accurate steering, but it's weighting is still light even in driver "sport" mode. It also lacks communication with what the front end and tires are doing. On the F30 BMW went with a softer setup even with the sport suspension. I went with the M adaptive in my 335i Msport. It's a very nice setup, but it too needs a bit firmer spring, damping control is great.
Also, the VSS feels a tad firmer in sport mode compared to the standard rack, but I can't confirm this with any tested data to back that up, it just feels firmer to me in comparison.

As for the engines, the M3's inline 6 N54 is fantastic. It may be that powerful by today's standards, but the way it works is still years ahead of many engines out there. It LOVES to rev and you love it to rev. It builds power as engine speed increases, and it increases rapidly. The sound of that M3 engine at higher revs is sport engine nivana, fantastic. At idle it's no beast or loping V8, but it wasn't designed to sound pretty standing still. It was built to rev and wail. With that it has excellent throttle response and control, mid corner throttle control can't be matched by either the N20 or the N54 or N55.

The M3 is a sports car. The 328i is a sporty sedan, so not very comparative. or easily comparable.
The N20 is a great little engine, but it won't give the overall power of the M3.
It will feel more powerful at low rpm and daily driving as the N20 produces a good amount of torque at low revs, where the M3 6 needs more revs.
The 135i was nicely compared to the M3 and matched it in terms of acceleration and some handling tests, but the 135i is let down by it's tuning. It has good firm springs, but the dampers control wasn't the best BMW can do. The E90 and F30 sport suspension dampers are better.
If the 135i had the M adaptive dampers it would have been a different animal.

The 335i sport or Msport with adaptive suspension gets you closer to that M3, though still different. The N55 300hp is closer to the M3's 333hp and beats its torque output 335i 300lb ft, M3 262lb ft.
The 335i N55 and 135i N54/N55 nearly match the M3's N54 acceleration times.
You don't give up much MPG with the 335i, until you start pushing deeper into it's greater power band, but the return on investment is a wider ear to ear smile. The 335i's N55 is also as smooth as the M3's at idle and at higher revs. The N20 is still a bit gritty at idle, not bad but it's there, and smooths out with revs, and is amazingly smooth all the way to it's red line.

The F30 sedans are different cars to the M3. They have a different intent for the daily driver. If you want an F30 to closer match an E46 M3, you'll have to do an aftermarket suspension, or try the new M performance suspension, which is coming soon. The 335i will get you the same over all power, but will do it at lower rpm and without that sweet mechanical wail, as the turbo system really dampens that sound.
Make sure to get the sport package for the sport seats that compare favorably to the E46 M3 seats, and may even be a bit better.

Or, save the money and get the 328i Msport, you give up the big power, but gain a bit better steering response with a lighter front end, then take the saved money and get a proper suspension. Don't do a tune, or risk losing the warranty you value. If you want the bigger power get the 335i and retain full warranty.

Decisions, decisions.
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      10-01-2012, 08:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clubracer6 View Post
Good feedback! The e46 m would be a summer toy to go along with my Passat. I do need a 4 door car, but could have a 2nd as a toy. I am just considering not having two cars and maybe just having one. I like the e60 and e90 m cars, but don't want to be filling up every 250 miles when it's my only car. I think I just need to go drive the f30 m sport some more. I loved my e36 and this has the same power...
Yes, you really do need to drive one for yourself, then you'll know if it's the car for you and your wants.
I suggest a sport line for you, don't waste our time with the Lux or Modern.
Yes you can get the M adaptive suspension in a Lux or Modern, but you can't get the sport seats, which are a must have for performance driving.

Go drive them, I think you'll be impressed, then get ready to sign on the line.
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      10-01-2012, 09:02 PM   #16
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As for the engines, the M3's inline 6 N54 is fantastic.
I think you meant S54, which is pure

Other than that, I agree with everything you said.
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      10-01-2012, 09:36 PM   #17
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Why does every stock 335i overheat its oil on the track. My 328s oil temp didn't budge. Mind of sucks when you gotta watch oil temps and walk a couple laps.

E9x series btw. Hope f30s don't have that problem.
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      10-02-2012, 02:41 PM   #18
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Thanks RPM, yep, only going with the M-Sport if I go this route.

Heavy travel the next two weeks, but after am going to try to spend more time driving one. Hopefully an M-Sport is available.
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