By on July 12, 2007

newm3.jpgI'm not particularly enamored by BMW's new M3, and not just because a replacement wheel would clear out my life-savings. On paper, it's just not that impressive. It costs $60 large (when all's said and done), tips the scales at 3600 lbs. and summons those braggadocios 420 horses by stretching to a Honda-like 8300 rpm. Where's the torque? The new M3 stumps-up the same grunt as BMW's new 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel (295 ft.-lbs.). While the RS4 and C63 AMG present viable alternatives for twist-lovers, the twin-turbo straight six-powered 335i lurking in the background looks like the real deal killer. The 335i's got less horsepower than the new M3, but it's far more usable at the same exact fighting weight. The 335i will also save you some $15k– and that's before the inevitable M3 dealer markups. A test drive should tell the tale. But before you weigh-in here (and criticize me for my empirical ignorance), check out the M-fur flying over at pistonheads.com.

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40 Comments on “Is the New BMW M3 a Born Loser?...”


  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    And who wants to bet it’ll burn oil like its V-10 cousin?

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Just wait until the 135 comes out 3,250lbs and the same engine in the 335. M what?

  • avatar

    Seems the internet is abuzz with M3 junkies proclaiming that the new model is “too soft.”

    Top Gear’s guy disses his brethren and pronounces the new M3 juuuuuusssst right.

    But I’m with Justin. If you’ve got a high-revving engine, stick it in something REALLY light. Otherwise, I’d rather have a “proper” V8.

  • avatar
    BimmerHead

    I’m with you…. why go to a V8 that offers no more torque than the twin turbo I6?

    I too am looking forward to the 135… If they really want to appeal to the enthusiasts, BMW should be developing a light weight version of the 135… if they could shave it down to 2900 lbs or so, then they would have a SCREAMER!

  • avatar
    AGR

    People are used to paying a premium for an M version BMW – AMG version M-B – RS version Audi – V version Cadillac – R version Jaguar and so on.

    A regular V8 with torque would be in M-B territory which is not unique, or different.

    The upside is that they depreciate like rocks, and are exceptional value for a money when “lightly used”.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Seems like AMG, V and others depreciate like rocks but not M3′s. That may change some with the 335, 135 and new M3 but 2004 M3′s run about 40k or tad under.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    I’m disappointed by the torque numbers on the M3, it’s the same as Volvo squeezed out of their 2.5L I5 turbo back in 2004, and since it’s a turbo the torque is far more usable (just like the 335i as a matter of fact).

    • 0 avatar
      daveth1218

      Someone needs to teach a class in this chatroom about what BMW means by “Ultimate Driving Machine.” The folks from Munich will gladly tell you that you will always be able to find a car with more this or more that than a BMW. More top speed? A Ferrari or a Vette, for that matter. More torque? A Vette or a Mustang. Quicker off the line? A 911. Revs higher? A Honda S2000. Better power to weight? A Lotus. Better at carving up the twisties? Hmmm… an Ariel Atom?

      But you cannot find a car (especially anywhere near $60K) that does everything as well as an M3 does them. It is #2 or #3 in virtually every catagory, and it has held those consistent rankings from the E30 to the E36 to the E46 and now the E92. And that, my friends, is how you build the ultimate driving machine.

      One other thing. I sold my 2003 E46 M3 at 65,000 miles, so I have a little experience with that car. Today I have almost 20,000 miles on my 2008 E92 M3, including 2,500 miles in Germany and more than 100 glorious miles on the Nordschleife after I took Euro delivery. Unless you’ve sat behind the wheel of one of these machines for more than 30 minutes, please, think before you type. Year after year, this model is a superstar — and come to think of it, a bargain.

  • avatar
    lth

    The first time I saw the torque specs for the car I was depressed. Then I saw the price and was even more depressed.

    BMW is becoming the Ultimate Lease Machine.

    • 0 avatar
      daveth1218

      Not exactly sure how you can be “depressed” by the price of the new M3 when everything in its class costs $20-$50K more. And no, your Evo isn;t in it’s class. Either is the Mustang Cobra.

  • avatar

    The 335i is the performance bargain of the BMW range and thank you for saying it.

    The M3 is getting dissected in the New York Times as well. Lots of chatter about whether it is too soft a car for the M3 badge.

    B Moore – Autosavant.net

  • avatar
    pete

    Moan, moan, moan…

    …and all from specs and internet chatter.

    Drive it then decide!

  • avatar
    gakoenig

    I am a dye in the wool BMW guy. I am on my 5th 3 series car, I am in the CCA, read the Roundel… all that jazz. Even I find the new M3 disappointing- especially given how amazing the E90 platform is and how phenomenal a sports car it could be if BMW chose to hone the edge. But then…

    The new M3 is Porsche money and if I am gonna spend Porsche money, I’m going to go buy a 997.

  • avatar
    jaje

    You can’t race spec sheets against each other. You have to pit the cars instead.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    I drive a turbocharged car with a big, flat torque curve. I love that I have torque way down low and can accelerate without shifting. However, horses are horses, and 420 is more than 300. The difference here is that you’ll have to shift to get what you want. If you’re human, like me, your downshifts may not be perfect. I do a very good job of rev-matching, but I bollocks it up often enough that unless I’m in the mood or in the “zone,” I often won’t go for it. The DSG was made for people like me. Put a DSG in the M3, and I will relish the fact that it spins over 8 grand. The noise will be sublime. I haven’t read whether it’s a flat-plane crank or an American-style V8, but either way, Ferarri howl or Nascar scream, it’ll be awesome.

    But since price is a factor, I’ve got to hand it to the 335i. Actually, I’m mulling over a 328i, because equipped with the sport package (both cars), the 338i comes in over $5000 cheaper, and I learned some time ago that 200 horses is plenty enough for trouble, so the 240 or whatever in the 328i ought to be plenty for where I live.

  • avatar
    sightline

    I remember seeing somewhere that right around 50% of BMWs are leased. Anyone want to corroborate or refute that statistic?

    I was ready to put a deposit down on one of these last year…then BMW of Mountain View cheerfully informed me that there would be a markup “determined at a later date.” Needless to say, I walked away.

    I’m sure the car is glorious to drive, but 70k including CA taxes seems excessive. All this new generation of M-cars are targeted at consumers rather than drivers.

    It will be interesting to see if, when the debt markets tighten, sports cars are hit as hard as they were in the 1990 recession. Until that happens, I’m sure I’ll see a ton of these being driven around the Marina.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Oh I don’t want her
    You can have her
    She’s too fat for me

  • avatar
    yobyot

    For me, the whole phenom of the M3 represents an astonishing achievement in marketing. I’ve commented
    on my blog about this.

  • avatar
    phil

    the 335i is definitely making life hard for the rest of the bmw lineup, esp the new M3. this month’s car and driver called the 335i the “best car in the world” and in fact it kicked the butt of the RS4, beating it’s lap time by several SECONDS, and costing many thousands less. didn’t the RS4 get god-status on this site recently? anyway, its porky and nose-heavy nature was clearly revealed by the race track and pointed out by the C and D eds.
    the M3 with a dual clutch tranny could be an awesome ride so like the others i think we should wait until more detailed reviews are published or we can actually drive the thing. now a twin turbo V8 M3, mmmmmm…

  • avatar
    phil

    PS- the 335 may have an oil temp achilles heal, i’m sure you’ve seen some of the reports, including the one in this month’s motor trend. anyway, i have a file from mike miller at Roundel that describes the current state of the problem if anyone’s interested.

  • avatar
    cyclopticgaze

    Feature creep, or, really, statistics creep is killing the M3. It’s a technical marvel, no doubt. Badass engineering. But the M3′s becoming the new M6: A package meant to appeal to a buyer rather than a driver. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a hell of a drive. But isn’t it clear that they’ve upped the HP to have a high number on paper and kept the torque low so people don’t spin out during everyday driving (or the DSC angels aren’t always on)?

    Looks like the 335i, or hell the 135i, is the new M3.

  • avatar
    unsprung weight

    Haven’t driven the new M3 but the idea that it’s gotten a little softer is actually appealing to someone that 10 years ago would have been counted amongst those who consider it sacrilege. If it’s going to knock the RS4 off the top of my list (which I have driven), it’ll have to have some more daily drivability. And let’s not doubt that this will leave room for some sort of M3+. And let’s not forget that BMW is in the business of selling cars and, GENERALLY SPEAKING(!), more money = older = willing to trade a little performance for a little more comfort. In short, this’ll be the best-selling M3 ever.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    cycloptcgaze said it all: “the M3′s the new M6″ and “the new 135 is the new M3″

  • avatar
    maxspivak

    phil, I’d like to see that writeup from Roundel. Can you pls email to cars@eeeyore_dot_com.

  • avatar
    maxspivak

    I too long to drive the 135. However, it’s based on E46 platform, a less stiff one that E9x. I wonder how much that matters on a day to day basis? And why couldn’t they put the M badge on the 335? To not dilute the M3, probably.

    The three 335s I drove left me wanting for a bit more edge.

    The several used E46 M3s I considered reminded me of that wild girl you meet at a high school party, have a blast with, but wouldn’t want to be married to on a daily basis. ;)

    I’ll reserve judgement on the new M3, though the writeups are disappointing. Was it overhyped? Is even possible to achieve expectations?

    • 0 avatar
      daveth1218

      Max:

      Look back to 2000 and you’ll see that the same writers who whine that the E92 M3 is too soft and too heavy said the exact same thing about he E46. Now they long for that “high strong purebread that behaves so well on the track.”

      Critics criticize because it’s their job. These guys will sing the praises of the E92 M3 as soon as Rahal-Letterman sort it out and start mopping up the Vettes, Astons and Ferraris in the ALMS series. Just like the M3 GTR did in 2006. It’s the same story every product cycle.

      I have 20,000 miles on my E92 M3, and it is a fabulous car. Shockingly strong and quick, a natural on the track, and still a fantastic daily driver.

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    The sheer density of these cars is freakin hilarious…3600lbs? The new C63 is in the 37-3800 range I think…hell of a lot more torque though without having to rev like a damn j-racer to get there.

    I’m interested in how this car holds up during reviews and tests.

  • avatar

    I volunteer to take one on for 6 months if anyone is offering ;-)

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    A lightweight German car is an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

    M3′s have been downhill since the E36 exited stage left. In my opinion, you can have too much refinement.

  • avatar

    as a very satisfied 335 owner, I read all of the countervailing hoopla about the new M3 and have difficulty understanding it. Certainly the 335 is a fabulous car, and I like the near-sleeper aspect a great deal. yet the M3 has been, like the 3-series coupe, largely un-Bangled and offers an aggressive yet tasteful variation on the 3-series chassis aimed at another market. Who cares that it doesn’t make horsepower like a CLK6.3? it comes with a six-speed (unavailable on the MB) and will I’d guess still trounce the MB around any decent roadracing track. It’s not perfect, but neither was the last one.

    And to those who think that $60k will put you into a 997, the base on a C2S is $73k, and it has “only” 325 hp from 3.6 liters. For $10k less, the M3 offers real back seats, a usable trunk, a friggin 8300 RPM V8 and four years of included maintenance. no dis on the Porsche, but if it’s “economy” performance one is looking for, the C6 takes the prize and will get better gas mileage than either the M3 or the C2S.

    These cars are just fabulous tools – there’s some great ones out there, and BMW has just added another good one to the mix! it’s still no Lexus…

  • avatar
    Penaloza

    Wake me when they put that V8 in their roadster. I would love to hear that thing at 8300rpm with the top down.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    How will the tuner market for the 135i/335i affect the M3 performance benchmark image for the potential customer? Already there are software upgares for sale for the 3.0L twinturbo engine, that raise the output to 380hp/400lb-ft. That is only a mild software upgrade for 91 octane pump gas. Costs about 1300 USD.

  • avatar
    jdv

    I wish M3′s depreciated like rocks, but they don’t.

    And without driving the new car to form my own impression, this comment from Top Gear somewhat matches my own values

  • avatar
    jdv

    Doh! Quote not showing up! Here it is again.

    “In my opinion, the new M3 isn’t a massively aggressive, no-compromise set-up – but why should it be? It needs to be driven as a flagship car by people who only own one motor, and BMW readily agrees that there’s space for a more hardcore ‘CSL’ version later in the model life.

    Truth is, I’m more for a car that’s fun to drive than a car that’s gained the last 10th around the track. I’m more for a car with soul than speed. The new M3, for me, has it.”

  • avatar

    A lot of M3 owners modify their cars and this one has good potential.

    I don’t see a lot of AMG owners doing squat to their cars.

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    GoClick:
    A lot of M3 owners modify their cars and this one has good potential.

    I don’t see a lot of AMG owners doing squat to their cars.

    Kleeman, Renntech and Brabus mods are common among AMG owners, esp. folks with the AMG 55 or AMG 32 models. The AMG 63′s aren’t as easy to mod.

  • avatar
    maxxm

    “The AMG 63’s aren’t as easy to mod.”

    Not yet, anyway….

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    When its stats are compared to the RS4 and the 335i it does sound a little disappointing. However, as a driver of a 240hp 227 ft-lb torque E36 M3, I can assure you it is going to be an awesome car. It also will have an entirely different feel than an awd audi or a twin turbo inline 6.

    Still I will probably get the 335i and mod it. As has been pointed out the aftermarket is already pumping out goodies that seriously increase its power and performance. You could throw on some coilovers, an lsd, free-er flowing exhaust, a new bov, and even a lower compression head gasket and a couple of bigger turbos with a custom tune for around the price of a marked up M3.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    $60k “when all is said and done…”

    Uh, make that closer to $68k, with options. It will price under the RS4, but the BMW will be more for the enthusiast.

    I think the new M3 will rock! However, the I35 is certainly a car to watch if you’re chasing high performance and value.

  • avatar
    studbike

    I dont get why people are saying the m3 has gone soft and complaining about the low torque in the same sentance. The m3 has always been a powerhouse. Its supposed to be high-strung. Its supposed to be a good value, not a great value. the real news here isnt that its a v8, its that its much more powerful AND LIGHTER then the I6 it replaces.


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