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Thread: So just how fast is an E46 M3?

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    So just how fast is an E46 M3?

    Hi guys, my friend is considering buying an E46 M3 soon. This would be his first BMW and he knows nothing about them. I told him to get on the forums and make an account. He stupidly refused, so here I am making a thread for him.

    His biggest question and concern was just how well can a STOCK E46 M3 handle itself against the newer cars of today in a race? Is it still considered a hell of a fast car like it was back in its time? Or can the average family sedan of today spank it in a race? (Just for the record I have seen some of the new cars like the 2014 Toyota Camry put out some incredible power)

    Yes, I know his main questions should be about maintenance and common problems with them. However he's young and dumb and has a bit more money than brains. Don't ask me how. So all he cares about is owning a very fast and prestigious car like a BMW. He's a racer and wants something really fast so like I said his biggest concern is speed. So, is the E46 M3 still considered a wickedly fast car? A car that can crush most other cars on the road still? Is the average V8 engine still more powerful than the M3's high performance 6 cylinder engine?
    Last edited by Metal Made Fox; 12-28-2013 at 02:34 AM.

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    4.8 seconds 0-60 with a top speed of 170 mph... that's pretty good for the price of a well cared for E46 M3. If he is worried about speed, he could try to find a CSL model, little bit of weight savings and a few little performance tweaks to the car. Regardless, either can be made significantly faster with a few mods. If I were in the market for a new car, this would be towards the top of the list... right behind the Z3M Coupe.
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    I can say that I like it, I can actually drive the car as it was intended. Yeah it is quick, but there isn't a Toyota on the road that can catch me. I won't talk about the boy racer Hondas, ect. they are in a different class. If this car didn't have a speed limiter, the gears would take it out to 200 MPH, hell even at 170 MPH, it can get a bit scary even on an empty Autobahn. I would keep the kid away from this car, for if you ever turn-off the DSC, even I have put it sidewise a couple of times, he would put it around a pole.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dworthy View Post
    but there isn't a Toyota on the road that can catch me.
    You're right, one of the newer Toyotas probably won't keep up with an M3, however here is a video of a Camry beating a 2008 535i. I was a bit disappointed. (Skip to the 1:20 mark for the beginning of the race.)

    So, how well can the E46 M3 keep up with say the V8 Mustang GT's? Or the newer V8 Camaros, or Dodge Challengers? Most of the opponents on the road my friend encounters are all driving powerful (but heavier) V8's.

    Last edited by Metal Made Fox; 12-28-2013 at 04:45 PM.

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    An M3 -- especially stock -- can't keep up with those cars in a stoplight drag race. If that's the kind of car your friend wants, he'll be sorely disappointed. It's a dancer not a drag racer.

    The car doesn't have much torque unless you supercharge it. Anyone with a 90s V8 and a few thousand -- if that -- can smoke an E46 M3 in a drag race. The M3 was never a fast car in those circumstances even when new. It's a track car and it likes to be at 3-4k rpm and higher. Take those high weight V8s and put them on a track or twist road and the situation changes. Some of those cars can run faster or equal, but none will do it as easily and certainly not in amateur hands.
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    In regards to the V8 Camaros, I eat them up for lunch in my e46M3. Those V8's are all bark and no bite. A few months back, I was driving leisurely at 80MPH in the fast lane, coming alongside a new Camaro and he downshifted when I got parallel to him. All I heard was his V8 and exhaust as I followed suit with a downshift and we took off. I continued to pull car length on him as we shifted through gears. By the time I hit 145 MPH, I was already 3/4 of a car length ahead of him. Don't let that V8 BS clog your mind - if you know how to drive and treat you S54 motor well, you're better than a lot of V8's on the road. They may sound awesome, but they'll sound awesome from behind the e46M3

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    I suppose it depends on what we're talking about for "average V8" and whether you want to know if a matched driver can take you or not.

    Are there V8 cars we can take? Sure. But dollar for dollar and with even skills, we lose the sprint. You asked if an M3 is "wicked fast" and the answer is not in a sprint. It was never built to be that and has never been. The torque isn't there for a standing start and there are plenty of V8 cars that can pull less than a car length along side as well as a few -- ZL1 and GT500 for example -- that will have no problem walking an M3. And, of course, you can always find someone who will smoke their tires or not shift their truck transmissions well enough.

    However if your friend wants to go around street racing and recklessly challenging everyone he meets at a stoplight -- or driving on public roads at "145 mph", please get him to buy something else. BMW already has enough stigmas without more street racing deaths attached to its marque.
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    e46 M3 isn't fast

    Back in the day, it was pretty quick, now it is not. The coupe is about 5 sec 0 to 60, the vert about 5.4. The 335i(s) w/o mod is around 5 sec or less. A Infiniti G35x/G37x are in the low 5 sec range. But as others have pointed out, the e46 M3 isn't really made for stoplight to stoplight. No real low end torque. Get it into the 3500+ RPM band and hang on. The M3 is really meant to be driven in the twisties/track. That's when it comes alive.

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    I just watched that Camry vs 5 Series video, and I want to make mention of a few things, here. If you're referring to your friend being a "racer" and engaging in swerving through traffic like the video portrays, I wouldn't engage in any type of driving that would put other people, other than myself, in danger. I would immediately "give up" a race if I didn't have an open stretch of roadway to really let my e46 M3 loose. The situation in which I described, above, where I went past 145 MPH was on an open stretch of highway en route from San Diego CA to Scottsdale AZ where the legal speed limit is 75 MPH for a long length of time, and there is no one on the road on that mid-dessert stretch of land. I was driving a shade above the legal limit when the Camaro felt like challenging me - I just followed suit. I do not challenge people whether on open stretch, or from light to light, because I am not a "racer" and that is not what the e46M3 was built for. Someone made mention on this thread that our cars are "dancers, not a drag racer" and I have to agree. It takes a lot of torque to get a car moving from a stand still, and the S54 lacks in that manner, but on highway pulls, and especially in and out of track turns, she shines very bright. I don't own my M3 because I want to race - I like the nostalgia of the M-Series and Family, and it's nice to know I have the power in the S54 when I need it, not because I want to race light-to-light. Not to mention, you don't hear people saying "whoa! look at that 10 yr old Camry"... but the e46M3 still gets a lot of looks and fanfare. If your friend envisions "racing" like swerving through traffic, recklessly, and against anyone who feels like taking more risks than should be considered safe, then I'd suggest he picks another car... Since I treat my car like a cupcake and keep the miles down, I want to make sure there are other e46 M3's still on the road so I can buy/trade for parts as my M3 gets older... I hate seeing wrecked e46M3's...

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    The newer M235 will be faster than the E46 M3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Made Fox View Post
    You're right, one of the newer Toyotas probably won't keep up with an M3, however here is a video of a Camry beating a 2008 535i. I was a bit disappointed. (Skip to the 1:20 mark for the beginning of the race.)



    racing on 95 around the DC area

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    Quote Originally Posted by e36hellrotred View Post
    The newer M235 will be faster than the E46 M3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustOneS54 View Post
    I just watched that Camry vs 5 Series video, and I want to make mention of a few things, here. If you're referring to your friend being a "racer" and engaging in swerving through traffic like the video portrays, I wouldn't engage in any type of driving that would put other people, other than myself, in danger. I would immediately "give up" a race if I didn't have an open stretch of roadway to really let my e46 M3 loose. The situation in which I described, above, where I went past 145 MPH was on an open stretch of highway en route from San Diego CA to Scottsdale AZ where the legal speed limit is 75 MPH for a long length of time, and there is no one on the road on that mid-dessert stretch of land. I was driving a shade above the legal limit when the Camaro felt like challenging me - I just followed suit. I do not challenge people whether on open stretch, or from light to light, because I am not a "racer" and that is not what the e46M3 was built for. Someone made mention on this thread that our cars are "dancers, not a drag racer" and I have to agree. It takes a lot of torque to get a car moving from a stand still, and the S54 lacks in that manner, but on highway pulls, and especially in and out of track turns, she shines very bright. I don't own my M3 because I want to race - I like the nostalgia of the M-Series and Family, and it's nice to know I have the power in the S54 when I need it, not because I want to race light-to-light. Not to mention, you don't hear people saying "whoa! look at that 10 yr old Camry"... but the e46M3 still gets a lot of looks and fanfare. If your friend envisions "racing" like swerving through traffic, recklessly, and against anyone who feels like taking more risks than should be considered safe, then I'd suggest he picks another car... Since I treat my car like a cupcake and keep the miles down, I want to make sure there are other e46 M3's still on the road so I can buy/trade for parts as my M3 gets older... I hate seeing wrecked e46M3's...
    Yep, he's one of those guys. I tell him to ease up on the crazy driving but like I said he's a stubborn kid. By the way he is reading this thread so if anyone wants to try to knock some more sense into him be my guest.

    Regardless, he wanted to know how fast will the E46 M3 be if he supercharges it? Will he then be able to take on the most powerful V8 machines on the road?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Made Fox View Post
    Yep, he's one of those guys. I tell him to ease up on the crazy driving but like I said he's a stubborn kid. By the way he is reading this thread so if anyone wants to try to knock some more sense into him be my guest. Regardless, he wanted to know how fast will the E46 M3 be if he supercharges it? Will he then be able to take on the most powerful V8 machines on the road?

    If he's so focused on beating/racing V8's then tell him to get something with a V8. The E46M3 is a 6 banger - very few motors put out the amount of HP/Liter like the S54 does, but it isn't a V8. Can a Turbo or SC e46M3 beat V8's? Of course. But are there V8's that can beat a FI e46M3? You bet.

    If your friend wants a car that shines on the track, then the e46 is a great pick. If he wants light-to-light, tell him to get something else. Again, why is he using V8's as his measuring stick? It sounds like he wants a V8 and not an e46M3

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    Quote Originally Posted by JustOneS54 View Post
    If your friend wants a car that shines on the track, then the e46 is a great pick. If he wants light-to-light, tell him to get something else. Again, why is he using V8's as his measuring stick? It sounds like he wants a V8 and not an e46M3
    He is considering a W208 CLK55 AMG as well. Well, I think he's narrowed it down to either the AMG or the M3. He likes the AMG because it's a V8, however he likes the M3 because of the styling. He doesn't really like the way the W208 looks. And he only wants Mercedes or BMW, and I think he overall like Bimmers better.

    So, I guess I should ask this for him. Between the W208 CLK55 AMG and the E46 M3 is the handling performance nearly identical?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Made Fox View Post
    Yep, he's one of those guys. I tell him to ease up on the crazy driving but like I said he's a stubborn kid. By the way he is reading this thread so if anyone wants to try to knock some more sense into him be my guest.
    Your friend won't have to worry about what car to buy very much longer........ He keeps driving on public roads like what he's doing in the video, he'll be pushing up daisy's before too long. Just hope he doesn't take out other people with him at the same time. Pure and plain JUST STUPID !!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Made Fox View Post
    Between the W208 CLK55 AMG and the E46 M3 is the handling performance nearly identical?
    He can kill himself or someone else equally well in both cars. Steer him towards the one with the best Euro NCAP rating, if you plan on being a passenger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeM3SMG View Post
    if you plan on being a passenger.
    Yeah, no way in Hell that's ever happening. I'd rather just walk than be in a car with him.

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    E46 m3's are slow

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    Tell him to get the E-9x M3, it comes with a V-8. I for one am glad that I am over in Germany, the drivers here are wayyyyyy better than the states. Of course you will always get the douchbag running out there.
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    i feel like a lot of these variables are driver-dependent

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    OP: Tell your buddy to go drive these cars and figure out which one makes him the happiest behind the wheel. Then tell him to go get some high performance driving instruction at a reputable school or club. This will make him faster (and hopefully smarter)behind the wheel of anything he drives going forward throughout his life.
    As a guy who modified his E36 M3 and drove it until the motor needed a rebuild (11 years), I got more enjoyment out of learning from pros how to drive faster than putting go fast parts in my car. If you ever go to the ///M school in SC, you'll see that there are pros that can go faster sideways in bigger, heavier, non-modified cars than some of the heavily modded guys here in the interweb.
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    Tell your friend to buy the AMG, at least when he wrecks it, it won't be as sad losing a Mercedes. Let someone who truly appreciates it buy the M3.

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