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Old 07-04-2007, 10:46 AM
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Whistle SteveD reviews new M3

Our member here SteveD does review of new ///M3 on m3post.

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Ok, those of you that know me will understand that I cannot provide a proper review here on the interweb, I am writing up my thoughts today and collating all the film footage we took during the last two days in Marbella.

The press introduction seemed to be an all UK affair, so all of the key UK magazines were represented, and I assume other countries including US scribes will have their opportunity to drive/film the new M3 over the next few weeks.

Let me set the expectation for what I can discuss; anything that would not normally be published by the magazine I can talk about, so that's the factual kind of nerdy things we talk about on forums - what does this look like?, how does that work? etc. I cannot post the videos since these will be edited and posted on EVO's website during the next week or so. I am happy to try and answer questions, although the inevitable ones about how the M3 compares with other cars, including the RS4 I drove down their in will have to wait for the magazine to be published.

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As well as occasionally joining magazines on these kinds of tests I also own the cars I review, so I've owned 3 E46 M3's, still own an M3 CSL and also a Z4M Coupe.

From my perspective and understanding what most of us discuss on forums such as this, I would summarise and say that most of you that are hoping the E92 M3 is good will not be dissapointed. It is good.

A friend of mine sent me a text yesterday as I was driving the E92 M3 and asked if I had to choose between my M3 CSL and this E92 M3, which car would I choose (assuming I could choose only one). My answer after much reflection was I would choose the E92 M3. Reasons? It's a very competent and fun car to drive, not a CSL in any way, but just as quick and just as loud. So anyone sitting on the fence trying to decide should they change from an E46 M3, I would say undoubtedly yes.

Perhaps I can try and help those of you speccing orders, with what works and what doesn't about the E92 M3. I will post up some views on this shortly.
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The gear change is better than the E46 M3, about on a par with the Z4M. Ordinarily that would mean it is pretty good, certainly no reason to specifically choose DCT unless you want a semi-automated manual.

Colour wise, all the press cars supplied by BMW were in Melbourne Red. Now this is a really bad colour to photograph. All the magazines were complaining about how hard it was to capture, and we spent so much time trying to find the right light, otherwise it looked a kind of browny-red and rather flat. The RS4 we used for the comparison was in a standard non-metallic brilliant red and it looked superb, whereas Melbourne Red was much darker and less vibrant. Some people will like it, it is a bit like the metallic red used on Ferrari's 599GTB, but I didn't think it was as good a colour as Imola Red was on the E46 M3.

Our view from filming the car from every angle is that the shape probably suits a darker colour better than a lighter one. You usually choose a lighter colour to show the lines better, but there just aren't clear lines to show on the E92 M3. Unlike the E46 M3, it doesn't look 'pumped up' and I suspect a lighter colour would be lost on it, but I haven't seen it in Space Grey or Silverstone so maybe they will look better.

The press car we shot was Melbourne Red with the 18" smoked wheels. I can tell anyone that was debating whether to go for 18" or 19" wheels that the 18" wheels are 'much' better than were on the E46 M3. It does not look under-tyred with the 18"ers, in fact they look quite wide and aggressive (particularly being in a smoked finish). The side-walls look quite tall and Michelin said they developed these tyres specially for the M3, with a taller sidewall but as stiff as a shorter lower-profile tyre. I normally would always go for 19" wheels, but I am having second thoughts because the 18"s look perfectly adequate.

Fuel economy is the subject of an amusing anecdote. The BMW marketing people spent virtually the whole press conference talking about Efficient Dynamics and their CO2 performance. Nobody could quite work out why they were talking CO2 when there was an M3 sitting in front of them, and out on the road, admittedly driving flat-out up and down very twisty mountaneous roads we managed 11mpg. I wouldn't worry too much about that, firstly BMW's M engines are always more thirsty in the first few thousand miles (although our press car had covered 2000 km already), and secondly nobody is likely to drive their M3 regularly as hard as we were driving it, so I would expect that number to climb to early 20's mpg under normall use. We certainly didn't need to fill up the fuel tank after a day's testing, so it wasn't bad IMO.

Comparing the new V8 to the I6 is straying into our text to be published in the magazine, but I am certainly not exaggerating when I say you will be bowled over by this engine, and it is probably one of the most exotic sounding engines ever fitted to a non-supercar. It is way, way better than the old S54 straight six could ever have been. Torque is not a problem and in most respects it behaves just like a 4 liter version of the previous 3.2.
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Handling is as you would expect. BMW haven't gone soft, but they have given the M3 a much wider repetoire than previously. It will satisfy those who like to cruise AND those who like to race.

Looks wise, I would say it 'does not' look better in person. Aesthetics are not the E92 M3s strongest point, although I suspect it will grow on you. It's real top qualities are handling, engine performance and sound.
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The press car had Bamboo Beige with the extended leather option. I was really impressed with Bamboo Beige. If you would like a lighter interior but don't want something too light that is easily marked, then Bamboo Beige is definitely for you.

Beige is the wrong description, it is actually Coffee coloured and looks quite expensive. It's a bit like the dark tan interior I've seen in the Ferrari 599 GTB.

I'm not a great fan of extended leather, it just doesn't seem worth it my opinion. It was nice, but was not that noticeable. I guess for £750 it's not that expensive, but just don't expect too much.

The test car also had the Black Carbon-Structure Leather trim which looked good (as it does in my Z4MC) and the M-seats felt identical to those I remembered in my E46 M3, right down to the same controls to inflate the sidebolsters and adjust lumbar support.
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25th of July I think. We will also be posting videos on the EVO website so you can access that easily.
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No we just pitted E92 M3 against the RS4. Autocar did the same, whilst CAR and Top Gear are out there for a few more days doing an extended comparison test (I assume with more competitors).

I really cannot comment about how they compared, you will have to read the article once it is published in EVO.

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Actually the RS4 had already been returned to Audi's press fleet, unfortunately that hadn't had time to repair the bonnet before we took it out again. So wherever I drove it in France and Spain I had people pointing at the damage.. doh!

I don't believe it was chipped. It certainly drove very smoothly though and was quicker than a Ferrari 355 GTB that I met during a 100 mile sprint through southern Spain. He didn't seem pleased to be dispatched so strongly by an Audi A4..
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I found the clutch to be typical of normal BMW products, very similar to the E46 M3. I assume you looked at the White M3 at the Canary Wharf Expo?

Unfortunately we did not performance test the M3, there just wasn't time. We didn't even get time to visit the Race Circuit Ascari. We had the car from 2pm until 7pm on Monday, and then 8am until 2pm on Tuesday. That's a very short time to fulfill all of the photographing/filming requirements and also drive it.

There will be another launch event - the UK Launch event later on next month when we will get the chance to drive an M3 back to the UK, that will allow us to compare it more closely with other competitors plus performance test it at Bedford Autodrome. I doubt that at magazine will have managed a proper performance test this time around.

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Funnily at certain moments in the rev range it sounds exactly the same as the M5, but with a harder more menacing growl. It is louder, MUCH louder than the M5 and deeper in tone.

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have photos of all the menu settings, which I can probably post up (the magazine are unlikely to use them - but I will check).

EDC has three modes; Comfort, Normal and Sport. Then in addition there is the button down by the gear lever which has two stages. It was not clear how this button interrelated with the iDrive menu settings. Without sharing too much the ride quality ranged was good and body roll minimal (or zero). EDC definitely works as advertised.
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  #2  
Old 07-04-2007, 12:00 PM
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Great Review
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Old 07-04-2007, 12:30 PM
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BMW-Sauber has a couple neat videos of Nick Heidfeld, the F1 car, and an E92 M3 in them on their website. While there's more emphasis on the F1 car, I thought it was nice to see the M3 in while........it almost made me accept the rear-end on that thing.
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Old 07-07-2007, 02:47 PM
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Thanks LeMans, I was meaning to come over here and post these thoughts. We are pulling together the full article to be published in EVO magazine, which should be out in just under 2 weeks.

Personally I enjoyed driving the new M3 and found it a worthy addition to the M-stable.
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Old 07-07-2007, 03:02 PM
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Great job, Steve. Bet that was fun.
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Old 07-07-2007, 05:42 PM
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It took me 27 hours to drive there (thankfully I flew back on a plane) and we were out all day in the burning sun slaving over a hot camera, but YES it was fun.

I've covered lots of articles and reviews before but never done a launch event and it was fun to cruise around the area in an RS4 trying to taunt the BMW officials.

I wish we had longer than two days, but next time I should be able to drive it more extensively.
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