View Full Version : *** REVIEW: BMW E90 M3 (driving impressions) ***

03-17-2008, 01:03 PM
I was fortunate enough this weekend to drive a few cars back-to-back and compare them with each other, a new 2008 E90 V8 M3, a Dinan-flashed E92 335xi and a (stock) E92 335i. The M3 is part of the first batch to arrive for sale in Canada… this particular one was the personal car of Budd’s BMW owner Darryl Budd. Since the car is so new and sought after, the dealership doesn’t have a demo available… so I was flattered at the opportunity to test it for this online review. Budd’s BMW (Oakville) is also an authorized Dinan dealership which offers many (warranty compliant) upgrades for the entire BMW line up. My friend Tom purchased an E92 335i (6spd) late last year and is currently shopping around for an ECU remap. The Dinan software has peaked his interest by still maintaining warranty with great drivability and added confidence with their extensive R&D testing.

Our first order for the morning was to take out a Dinan-flashed 335i to compare with Tom’s stock setup. Unfortunately, the only Dinan 335i available to us was an automatic AWD E92 335xi. Right away I thought the driveline friction-loss from the all wheel drive, and torque converter from the slush-box was going to be a bad comparison against Tom’s lighter RWD coupe. Boy, was I wrong! The added power (rated +84HP, +121lb/ft increase) from the boost increase (13.2psi from 8.8psi) was VERY apparent… especially after 4500rpm. The one small criticism I have is that the power delivery on WOT is not very linear from idle. Dinan engineered a “multi-stage” power delivery program when launching the car from a standstill with the DSC off. I’m not sure if this is specific to the AWD “xi” or auto-tranny version to help relieve the amount of torque the transfer-case now deals with. Basically, when you mash the throttle from a stand-still, the car accelerated briskly up to around 2700rpm, then a surge of power comes on which gains linearly as the needle sweeps up the tach. You definitely feel the huge power increase mostly above 5000rpm compared to Tom’s stock car. This Dinan car really moves well (keep in mind, it only had the software & oil cooler upgrade – no exhaust changes) especially on the highway at higher speeds where it can “stretch” its legs.

Driving an automatic car always leaves me slightly “disconnected” from the whole experience… keeping in mind that I am purely making reference to a transmission with a torque converter, not an SMG or DKG/DSG gearbox. The strong surge of power from the Dinan car felt great, but I was skeptical about how it would fare against a 6-spd stock RWD 335i with a much smoother power delivery and (seemingly) lower end torque. So a quick comparison was in order! I hopped in Tom’s 335i, he jumped in the Dinan car and we were off to set up a side-by-side comparison (at a private racetrack, of course!) and see if I could hold my own against the AWD slushbox. At regular speeds (60km/h++) there was really no contest. The obvious HP increase in the Dinan car was evident, right from the get-go. He would pull me about 1 car-length per gear! Since the “racetrack” didn’t have any long empty straights, we weren’t able to do a high speed comparison (160km/h+), where I suspect the difference at those speeds would be slightly less. Now was time for a standing start comparison. I was aware of his off-the-line handicap and was going to take advantage of it with a good launch and quick shifting. The light turned green and with perfect timing, we were both off like a Jewish foreskin. As suspected, I pulled away about 3m and held the gap until (my) 2nd gear, where he caught up. Once shifting into 3rd, he starting to pass and continuously pull from me. No doubt, the car has an extra 84+hp. They did a great job of adding that much power and maintaining warranty, which is worth the $2100 price tag to many 335i owners. I’m curious how quick the software feels in a 6-spd RWD car.. or even their (soon to be released) stage-2.

Now for the main event… the new V8 M3. Slipping into the deep-bolstered seats, the first thing you notice is the (controversial) power bulge in the hood, 8400rpm redline and how thick the steering wheel feels. Looking around, the car doesn’t seem much different from a standard E92. The (///M specific) black roof liner and sunroof delete (carbon roof) give a sense of lower roof line and cozy cocoon-like surroundings. Compared to the 335i, the clutch feels the same and the shifter has slightly shorter throws, but similar gear engagement. Pushing the START button fires up the 414BHP S65 motor, which I can’t express enough how well it sounds. Motor-wise, the S65 weighs 33lbs less than its older S54 sibling, and belching out 77hp more is a work of art and engineering marvel. The air box breathes through the driver-side hood vent and gives the engine a sweet induction sound when under acceleration. The modest 295lb/ft torque from the V8 has the skeptics in a frenzy, especially with Benz’s C63 and the Audi RS4 being considerably more… but that’s the nature of a small displacement, high revving motor. The same argument was made when the S54 was introduced back in 2001. It’s something that you just have to drive and experience to understand. If you want torque, simply buy domestic... that’s all they seem to know. I wasn’t able to really test the car hard, it wasn’t even broken in with only 265km on the odometer, but trust me when I say that nothing new for this price even comes close. Pedal placement perfect for heal & toe footwork, light weight flywheel keeps throttle blips quick and the alcantera material on the seats hold you in place through the twisties. This car feels light on it’s feet, like a razor sharp instrument when driven; Through steering feedback, throttle response, brake application and simple gear changes. It’s a pure driver’s car, and I’m proud so say it’s the nicest BMW i’ve ever experienced. The fact that BMW Canada were able to keep the price the same as it’s predecessor - $69,900 (sedan) and even $3100 cheaper for the coupe - $71,300 is a real added bonus.

In conclusion, I definitely see myself owning an E90/2 M3 in the future, it’s worth every penny and will make your commute an absolute pleasure, whether it’s to the corner store for groceries (fair-sized trunk), on the congested 401 (the new sounds system is leaps & bounds better than it’s replacement) or carving the roads on the Niagara Escarpment (multiple suspension settings) there is nothing more pure with the same comforts and practicality. Can’t wait to see the E92 CSL now! If you are interested in seeing the car or simply curious about some payment options, feel free to contact Christian Vetter @Budd’s BMW in Oakville (289) 291-5118… he’s a great guy and will definitely hook you up!

03-17-2008, 01:06 PM
thanks for the review...
great writeup!

03-17-2008, 01:34 PM
great write up

03-17-2008, 01:53 PM
Nice write up, can't wait to get some seat time myself. I would really like to see some straight line comparisons between the new M3 and a chipped 335Ci.
I hate the Budds dealer network though.

03-17-2008, 03:01 PM
oh Randy your such a romantic .. such words .. hehe

Have you noticed the windows of the new M3's .. it seems cheap around the seal like it would have problems with leaks. maybe I was the only one paying attention to the exterior as much as the interior :confused:

03-17-2008, 03:15 PM
Great write up

03-17-2008, 03:27 PM
great write up.

03-17-2008, 03:28 PM
great write up randy.

03-17-2008, 04:53 PM
Were you at Budds on saturday morning around 10? A guy that looked like u got out of a nice white 335 and into a silver on red (I think) 335 that was parked? If so I was standing right there by my car (blue e90 with CSL's) which was parked beside the 335. That white 335 looked sick, had a kit, rims and spoiler. I thought it was you, but since you don't have a 335 I figured I was confused.

BTW: I heard the dinan 335 start up (my SA told me it didn't even have exhaust) and it sounded INSANE.

Here is a pic of one of the M3's at Budds.


03-17-2008, 07:33 PM
As usuall a fine write up Randy , you lucky stiff , Thanks for a great report on both cars.*th-up*

03-17-2008, 08:37 PM
Nice write-up Randy. Only thing I'll add to all that is that the current Audi RS4 is at the *end* of it's lifespan and still holds it's own to this new M3........... not as good, but really really close. So I think that Audi will best this M3 in the next edition of the RS4........... as well as that Monster motor Benz. I hear that the Benz motor is something crazy to drive though.

03-17-2008, 09:27 PM
way better then my review months ago lmfao
nice man

03-17-2008, 10:14 PM
Nice Write up dude, the M3 once again sets the standard on handling, overall performance and fun to drive...
although at over 3500lbs the cars no lightweight but still betters the compitition
of Fat porkers the auto industry trend to favour ie: Audi RS4, C63 AMG
Lexus IS-F...

The new 135 should be the next car to look out for
under 50K and even cheaper in the US (I don't know why we still get reamed on prices with dollar on Par)still pretty heavy but not as heavy as the mighty ///M3er....

the Duel clutch M3 will set another standard again once it come out
this summer
just need to find a money tree to get one....

03-18-2008, 01:20 AM
Man do I hate that hood.

03-18-2008, 09:58 AM
Nice writeup Randy!*th-up* Once again, I hope I can someday be as lucky or as skilled as you when it comes to driving*rockout*

03-18-2008, 11:48 AM
Awesome write up Randy!

03-28-2008, 10:30 PM
The New RS4, and Current C63AMG will never out handle and
be as precise as the new M3

in a Dragrace yes, even the new Lexass IS-F Will beat the new M
in 0-60 and 1/4 mile runs but then again were talking a 5.0V8 Vs. 4.0litres

The M3 once again will set that standard in handling and balance
but, The next RS4 is going to be dirty lets hope Audi can keep the price
down like BMW...the new M is a great deal for the price but
needs help in the looks department...just my penny! *th-up*