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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 05:25:52 AM   #1
bip_m3
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Default E36 man with an e46 ?

Hello everyone,

I have owned an e30 m3, and currently own an e36 s50 m3 with just about every performance upgrade keeping it n/a.
I am wondering if I should make the jump to e46
I want to know pros vs cons in the comparison between the two.
I do not track. But have some of the best mountain roads you will find.

Thanks for any ideas.
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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 06:50:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

Yes. You will love it. In my opinion, the e46 is the perfect generation of the m3. It has the perfect mix of performance, safety, technology, etc. It's not too old but not too new.

pros: more power, performance

cons: price
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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 07:04:49 AM   #3
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

Dont sell the e36, i have both, and... the e46 handling feeling is nothing compare to the E36, E36 is so much fun to drive on twistie roads. Light is right.
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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 01:04:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

Are you looking for more power? Or updated looks etc? There’s always an S54 swap...def recommended.

Having both, I can say they’re def different. The E36 is very engaging...could be the mods / mounts and suspension. The E46 is appreciable in mostly stock form too. Real tough call. I was zero help! Go drive one!
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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 01:16:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

I too have a 95 m3, full exhaust, lowered a little with a bunch of suspension refreshing. I also have a 2006 m3 with smg, more or less completely stock.

Both great cars and with 3 cars I've been trying to decide which one to sell if I want something different. The e36 is so connected, you feel every line on the road, every vibration through the transmission to your shifter to your hand. The sounds is also amazing with the shorty headers and corsa sec. 3.

If you enjoy a loud exhaust, you honestly might not like the 46m compared to the 36m. That's probably my number one "con" catagory list for the 46m along with a little more weight, and more comfy/luxurious (if that's a con).

I also do not track and simply enjoy the cars on the roads around me. If I have to get rid of one of them, I will honestly probably sell the 46M. The 36M is just so special in my heart, the way it handles, the not-common avus blue.

Here's my other big one: with no track, the cars are similarly fast and punchy. Blasting through the gears in the 36M feels not much slower than the 46m, since I don't really go past 80mph on my daily commute. Only past 100mph does the s54 keep pulling where the s50 is running out of juice.
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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 03:00:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

S54 is a much sweeter engine, the 46 is much better looking and more refined without being numb. Still a mechanical experience with a motor sport engine.
Why are you asking on a public forum man. Every single person here will give you a different response. This is like asking if you should have the pizza or the pasta.. just go with whatever you feel like
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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 07:49:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

Same boat. Having owned several E36 M3's I can say the E36 is a more "driver" focused car, while e46 m3 is more of a comfort focused sports car. I love the e46 m3 as equally as the e36, but canyon drives I'm def more at home in the E36. Get the E46 m3 though, amazing car (minus rod bearing replacements every 90k, vanos problems, and subframe cracking)
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Old Sun, Apr-15-2018, 08:17:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

Couple differences come to mind on mine, but it'll be much more pronounced for the US-Spec cars.

The E36 M3 Evo fits me better, overall, from an ergonomics perspective. It also lacks a lot of the more "fancy" features of most of the E46 M3s, making it feel more raw, stock for stock. Weight-difference really depends on equipment, but around 150 sounds reasonable.
Stiffness wise, the E46 is superior to the E36, without a question. The European S50B32 feels similar to the S54B32, albeit less "high-strung". Also, no rasp there :P

Modifications wise, the E46 will be the easier option, with huge aftermarket support. It's also a lot easier to fit bigger wheels & tires underneath the E46.

For the US market, i'd say go get the E46, in addition to your current line-up. For the European market, i wouldn't go and spend the 10-15k premium for an E46.
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Old Mon, Apr-16-2018, 02:23:08 AM   #9
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

I own both and alternate daily between the two. We also own an S54 Z3M Roadster. I live in a city, which I believe to be important. Random thoughts:

- S52 is pretty underrated, especially around town. The S54 does not feel meaningfully faster day-to-day, and there are times the S52 in the E36 feels preferable (I'm guessing this is torque/LB down low). I often feel compelled to downshift to second in the E46, whereas in the E36 you can pretty much stay in third gear if you want.

- Once you're out of day-to-day city type driving, the S54 shines. It is a great motor around town, don't get me wrong, but where it really differentiates in the E46 itself from the S52 is over ~6kRPM. Since you mention canyon driving, this definitely is a point in the E46's favor.

- The E46 is a much nicer interior to be in. It feels and looks modern and the build quality is three steps above the E36. You can also get Imola red leather

- As others have commented, the E36 generally feels more connected and, to me, feels worlds lighter than the E46. It feels much more tossable. The E46 tends to feel more planted with higher overall limits. But when it comes to handling, I prefer the E36.

- If I had unlimited resources, I would seriously consider a euro S50 or S54 swap into an E36. I've got to imagine that combination is simply perfect. The S54 Z3M Roadster is the most fun car I've ever driven, but the motor totally overwhelms the older rear suspension and shorter wheelbase. For the price difference between the two, you could probably swap in an S54.

- In general, when I drive my E36, it feels very well balanced (engine, chassis/suspension, brakes, etc.). Nothing in particular shines (if anything, its the chassis), so it feels like a real "sum of the parts" car. When I drive my E46, the motor steals the show, even though the rest is very good.

So, yeah, I can't pick between the two, thus I have both. If you forced me to sell one tomorrow, it would be the E36, but I've owned it twice as long as the E46 and I don't have the time to get out to the track anymore. If I were still getting out there, it would probably be a much harder decision, although now the E46 has a CSL intake...
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Old Mon, Apr-16-2018, 02:39:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: E36 man with an e46 ?

I've owned 3 of each at this point, in both stock and modified forms (and my e36s have had both s52s and S50B32s).

Comparing modded cars is completely missing the point, so, stock vs stock (US spec vs US spec):

-e46 engine is light years better. At all speeds. If you don't think so, you're not revving it :P
-e46 interior is much nicer, and less prone to falling apart
-e46 chassis is stiffer
-e46 has better braking
-e46 suspension is more hardcore
-e46 has functional headlights. Not good, but the e36's are just shit in the USA
-e46 has a lot more modern safety features
-e46 has a lot less chassis failure points
-e46 has a TON more aftermarket modding options/routes
-e46 back seat and trunk are more useable
-e46 gearing is much better for highway trips. The e36, with the US 5 speed, is buzzing you with RPMs at high speed. Gets very annoying fast-- even with a stock muffler
-e46 has a better gauge cluster, with sweet features like oil temp
-e46 has a better automatic, if you need an automatic
-e46 can fit a ton more tire
-e46 has better sound deadening
-s54 is better at dealing with high G cornering without oil starvaion
-the e46 seats, while not amazing, are VASTLY better than the zero support, high discomfort Vader seats in the e36

-e36 is lighter and smaller, and feels it on the road
-e36 steering is better
-e36 exhaust sounds better
-e36 has better ride quality
-e36 doesn't make funny noises (like the M clunk in the e46 or s54's solid lifter tick)
-e36 has a full size spare tire

If you are talking about the euro e36...
-much of the e36s weight benefit goes away
-~2/3 of the e46's engine benefit goes away
-e36 gains an oil temp gauge

If you compare modded cars, IMHO the e46 can gain a lot more than the e36.
-The ECU (and other codeable options) allow a ton of awesome features.
-The CSL airbox on the s54 makes it sound better than anything you can get on the e36 intake or exhaust.
-The factory wide body means you can get a lot more tire under it.
-There's a lot more additional NA or FI power to be had from the s54 than the s50b30, s50B30US, S52, or S50B32.
-The e46's BFD 4 channel system is much better at dealing with non stock brake ratios than the e36's 3 channel setup.
-The stiffer chassis on the e46 means it's better at competently dealing with stiff aftermarket suspension setups.

I didn't mention styling, because it's 100% subjective. But, IMO the e46 is the 3rd best looking car BMW has ever made (behind the Z8 and 3.0 CSL).
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Discussing E36 man with an e46 ? in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)