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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 Thu, Feb-19-2015, 01:06:14 AM   #11
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Default Re: e46 M3 Press/Media/Reviews/Articles Thread

For those apprehensive about DIYing...

"The most difficult part of figuring out a car, the engineering, has been accomplished. Repairs and maintenance are simply dissembling parts and reassembling them." - bimmerfan08
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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 01:09:31 AM   #12
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Default Re: e46 M3 Press/Media/Reviews/Articles Thread

For those apprehensive about DIYing...

"The most difficult part of figuring out a car, the engineering, has been accomplished. Repairs and maintenance are simply dissembling parts and reassembling them." - bimmerfan08

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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 01:31:27 AM   #13
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Default e46 M3 Press/Media/Reviews/Articles Thread
Pretty terrible comparo here... M3 sport button not jerky? S4 better handling? S4 poor ride quality? These couldn't be farther from the truth and (I own both).
At least the top gear review where they choose the S4 over the M3 they qualify the statement by saying "for everyday use" but for track they would choose the M.
Anyone have a link to that?

Last edited by rilla; Thu, Feb-19-2015 at 01:45:27 AM.
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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 01:38:47 AM   #14
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C&D First test


In the past 25 years, America has had only two Olympic gold-medal decathletes, Bruce ("Don't call me B.J.!") Jenner and Dan O'Brien. Most people consider the winner of the Olympic decathlon to be the world's best athlete, because it involves competing in 10 widely differing events, from pole vaulting to running to jumping. When Jenner won in '76, America fell in love with him, and he appeared in commercials, made appearances in bad sitcoms, and smiled at us from Wheaties boxes.

In a similar way, BMW's M3—the motorsports version of the 3-series—has been universally coveted since 1994 when the second-generation M3 appeared with a smooth, broad-shouldered 240-hp in-line six. Like a decathlete, the M3 did it all: It could carry four adults and their luggage in comfort, and in the process the car could whip through turns with an agility and crispness usually reserved for hard-core sports cars. Until recently, the M3 was undefeated in our comparison tests—the five-year-old M3 did place second (C/D, September 1999) to the brand-new Audi S4 Quattro. The M3 earned a spot on our annual 10Best list five years in a row -- 1995 through '99. In 1997, it defeated eight cars, including the Acura NSX-T and Ferrari F355, to win our best-handling-car shootout.

Still, we were frustrated to know that BMW sold a better, more powerful M3 elsewhere in the world. BMW said this supreme M3, with 77 more horsepower, was too pricey for the U.S. market.

Perhaps BMW had a point, since the M3 sold here accounted for more than half of all M3s produced from 1995 through 1999. In one particularly good year, 1998, four of five M3s sold were the 240-hp U.S. version priced at roughly $40,000. The more powerful M3 cost about $55,000 in Germany.

For the new M3, based on the current 3-series two-door, BMW decided on two things: (1) Americans were probably willing to spend a little more for the other engine, and (2) making all M3s with the same engine would probably lower the cost enough to make everyone happy. We recently drove the new car in Jerez, Spain, and even got a chance to turn some laps at the Jerez circuit.

The engine is an absolute gem. This ferocious, screaming motor hurtles the M3 down the road with an urgency that now rivals the world's best sports cars from Porsche and Chevrolet. BMW estimates the M3 will hit 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and will eat up a quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds—on a par with the 911 Carrera and Corvette -- and we think those numbers are accurate.

More than the engine distinguishes the M3 from the 3-series cars. For one, the M3 rides on its own unique suspension. The basic design and layout are shared with the 323 and 330, but nearly every component -- including the hubs and spindles -- was changed, modified, or strengthened for crisper handling and more driver feedback. The front track was increased 1.5 inches and the rear by 1.8 inches to accommodate big 225/45ZR-18 front tires and 255/40ZR-18 rears. In addition, a 0.1-inch-thick aluminum stiffening plate is bolted to the bottom of the front frame rails, and the steering rack uses a turning ratio that is seven percent quicker than the base car's.

The new M3 retains its knife-edged turn-in and flat cornering attitude, but it has picked up a couple of bad habits. The first is a ride that's more punishing than the last model's, which managed to feel both firm and compliant. It isn't uncomfortable, but we sense that the new car bounds around more than the previous model. Second, the new car keeps the rear end so well planted that only the front tires slide in the turns. Yep, it understeers -- badly. Considering how much we loved the old car's neutral handling -- you could call up under- or oversteer at will -- the realization of this trait almost brought tears to our eyes, but the fact remains that without some major driver heroics, the M3's rear end stays emphatically put. Our test car was a European model with 19-inch tires that will not be available stateside, so perhaps the U.S. model with 18-inch tires will feel different. Understeer is a safe, if unexciting handling trait, and the new car masks its speed as well as the old.
On the road, where corners are taken at significantly slower speeds than on a racetrack, the story is markedly different. The M3 feels heroic once again. From the driver's seat, you'd never know you were piloting a passenger car; the feel is pure sports car, with an agility and crispness that belies its practical abilities.

BMW says the new car will cost about $46,000, roughly $5000 more than the last M3 sold here, the 1999 model. (A Ferrari F1-style manual gearbox with automatic shifting is due in 2002.) Considering the amount of extra suds in the engine bay, we think that price is a bargain. And unlike Bruce Jenner, who won the gold at only one Olympic competition, we bet the new M3 will continue the old car's winning ways.

A Closer Look at BMW's Torquey 333-hp Engine

There are only two naturally aspirated engines for sale in the land that can top the 103-horsepower-per-liter performance of BMW's new six: an amazing 120-horsepower-per-liter four-cylinder Honda found in the S2000 roadster and the phenomenal 110-horsepower-per-liter V-8 of the Ferrari 360 Modena. Like the Honda and Ferrari, the BMW powerplant, which has 333 horsepower, does not arrive with any earth-shattering new technology. Rather, the engines achieve their superb outputs through a careful, methodical approach of lightening the engine internals and improving the breathing.

To lighten the valvetrain, BMW used hollow camshafts (with VANOS infinitely variable timing systems on the intake and exhaust cams) and finger followers to operate the valves. BMW says finger followers offer two main advantages over conventional valve tappets: Friction is 30 percent lower with the followers, and valvetrain mass is 30 percent less.

With the engine internals capable of spinning at 8000 rpm, BMW next ensured that the engine could breathe at that speed. On the intake side, six individual tubes house electronically controlled butterfly valves. BMW says the individual throttle valves, which are positioned much closer to the intake ports than in a conventional single throttle body, improve throttle response. On the exhaust, gorgeous equal-length header tubes expel the spent air.

Despite the M3's new aluminum hood and its center bulge, the engine still had to be mounted at a 30-degree list to fit. Tilting the engine required modifying the oil pan to clear the front crossmember. This created oil-scavenging problems, especially during long corners, which BMW solved by using one large sump at the rear of the engine and a smaller sump up front. There are two oil pumps, one to pump oil from the front sump to the rear and another to pump oil from the rear sump through the engine.

One unique feature of the M3's engine is the driver-selected, dual-mode throttle-response switch, which changes the way the intake butterfly valve responds to the gas pedal. When the engine's not in the sport mode, the butterflies open slowly at first to ensure smooth driving; in sport mode, the valves open much more quickly, lessening response time.

Although BMW was third to Honda and Ferrari in this horsepower-per-liter contest, the Bimmer engine does boast more torque per liter (81 pound-feet per liter vs. 77 for the Honda and Ferrari). The result is an engine that's remarkably strong everywhere in the rev range and pulls like mad right up to its 8000-rpm redline.


Current Cars: 2005 IR/IR M3, 2001 LMB/blk M5, 04 M3 wagon, 2017 i3
Past cars: 04 M3, 03 530i, 96 M3, S50B32 e36 M3 CM race car

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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 01:40:32 AM   #15
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Default Re: e46 M3 Press/Media/Reviews/Articles Thread



"This is just as bad as a Corvette, except it has a back seat," muttered my wife, Mary, and she was not employing bad to mean good in the modern urban vernacular. Mary has developed an aversion to riding in Corvettes with me because the powerful plastic sports cars always seem to stimulate my aggressive driving tendencies. She had correctly perceived that the BMW M3 convertible has precisely the same effect.

To readers of this magazine, this effect is a virtue rather than a vice because, just like the Corvette, the M3 convertible has the combination of effortless energy, secure grip, and linear controls that make any driver feel like Michael Schumacher--and want to emulate him.

Okay, so the M3 convertible can't quite match the quarter-mile time of 13.1 seconds at 111 mph of the latest Corvette convertible. In fact, the M3 convertible's 13.7-second quarter-mile at 104 mph is 0.3 second and 2 mph in arrears of the closed-roof M3 (June 2001), thanks to the convertible's shocking 398-pound weight gain from its power top and various and sundry reinforcements.

Even so, the M3 convertible is by far the quickest droptop on the market with an adult-feasible rear seat. Turn off the traction control, drop the clutch at 4500 rpm, and you rocket to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. A mere 7.4 seconds later, you'll hit triple digits.

Passing on a back road is simply a matter of using the beautiful shifter to select third gear and planting your right foot. Accompanied by the determined metallic rasp from the rev-happy 3.2-liter six, you will surge around even a double tractor-trailer in astonishingly little time and space. Keep your foot in it, and the M3 convertible will still be pulling strongly when you run into the electronic governor, which truncated the acceleration curve at 157 mph in our car, although the speedo needle was nearly touching the 170 mark.
At top speed, on an admittedly uneven road, the M3 cabrio did want both hands on the wheel. But in most other circumstances, it inspires immense confidence. We found ourselves hurling the M3 into corners ever faster, knowing the car was so well-planted on its big Michelin Pilot Sport tires that we would simply track through as if on a tether. Even in fast corners, midcourse corrections are always an option because there's invariably sufficient bite to tighten your line.

Although the current line of 3-series suffers from steering that is too light (soon to be corrected, BMW promises), the M3's nicely sculpted three-spoke wheel is beautifully weighted and so intuitively responsive that after driving a few blocks, you position the car with the casual accuracy that normally comes from years of ownership. Pretty soon, you're "driving it like a Corvette."

Unlike the latest version of Chevy's sports car, however, the M3 convertible accommodates more than luggage in the rear. Although its back seat is narrower than the one in the sedan, it's roomy enough for two average-size adults for short trips. The trunk will hold a pair of stacked, unfolded garment bags and some odds and ends, even with the top down. With the top up, you can fold a panel out of the way and fit another duffel bag or two.

As you would expect in a $58,000 car, this trunk is neatly trimmed, as is the nappa-leather-upholstered cockpit. All the usual power adjustments and conveniences are standard, including one-touch top operation incorporating a mechanized hard boot. Dropping the top is so painless, we often did it for five-minute trips.

This top is fully lined and impressively tight. Even during an extended 90-plus-mph cruise--people sure drive rapidly in central California--air leaks and wind roar were so low that we almost forgot we were driving a convertible.

Droptop 3-series models have never been paragons of structural rigidity, and this latest M3 still can't match a Corvette convertible in twist resistance. Although stiffer than its predecessor, which is quite an achievement given the new model's much firmer suspension, the M3 convertible will quiver and shake in pothole-infested Michigan. On California roads, however, we rarely noticed any sheetmetal jitters.

The structural quibble aside, if you want a convertible that's fast and has a real back seat, this M3 is the best there is. Just don't let the four seats fool you. It's a sports car, and it encourages you to drive it like one.

Find out why the M3 ranks as one of 2002's
2002 10Best Cars 10BEST CARSarrow COMMENTS (1)
2002 10Best Cars

20th Annual 10Best Cars.



Amazingly enough, this issue marks the 20th occasion that the editors of Car and Driver have assembled to select the 10Best cars available in the U.S. market. Despite protests from manufacturers who are as outraged as proud parents that we've overlooked the beauty of their babies, we are back to select the 10Best cars once again.

This year, the pick is for cars alone. That's because last July we finally acknowledged our driving-pleasure-based prejudices against trucks and gave those more utilitarian machines their very own awards — "5Best trucks."

Otherwise, our procedures remain exactly as they have for the past several years. Our 10Best nomination process is open to every production car — no aftermarket or cottage-industry specials allowed — for sale in the U.S. market. Unlike some other awards, we don't select only from those models that are all-new for 2002.

We have only three restrictions. First, the vehicle must be on sale by January 2002. Second, it must fall beneath our maximum base-price cap of $66,000 (calculated by multiplying the average new-car transaction price as of the summer of 2001 — $26,376 — by 2.5 and rounding up). And third, the manufacturer must be able to supply us with an example of the nominated vehicle by mid-September for our rigorous evaluations.

As usual, we automatically renominate last year's 10Best winners, provided they are still on the market and remain under our price cap. All our 2001 picks met these criteria. Then we seek out cars that are all-new or upgraded significantly for 2002. We found 33 such machines to add to our returning 2001 10Best winners. If a car meets neither of these qualifications, that means it has already had a shot at 10Best in a previous year. There are no second chances.

Our 10Best testing site is about 30 miles west of our headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It lies in the midst of the most challenging and interesting roads in the area. In fact, after years of delivering cars to this site, the manufacturers have realized how useful these roads are for developing new vehicles. Almost every day of our week-long 10Best flog, we spotted at least one heavily disguised prototype or convoy of competitive vehicles circulating in the area.

Our jury included all the editors from our Ann Arbor headquarters, along with Patrick Bedard, Barry Winfield, and Brock Yates from our outposts around the U.S., Peter Robinson from Europe, and most of our contributing editors. The total came to 13 automotive writers with a total of 289 years devoted to nit-picking about cars.

After five days of avoiding the local gendarmes during our spirited drives, comparing specifications from our vast trove of press kits, trying out back seats for size, peering into trunks, searching for hidden CD changers, and otherwise scrutinizing the 53 examples representing our 43 nominees, we turned in our ballots. Each of us rated all the vehicles on a scale of 1 to 100, and after averaging the scores, we had our winners.

With the elimination of trucks from the nominees, the selection was pickier than ever. That's particularly so because, as the various vans, pickups, and SUVs take on ever more of the pure people-carrying duties, cars are being created to satisfy driver's passions for performance, style, and technology; in other words, exactly the things that excite Car and Driver editors and readers. Three new cars came onto our list, and a former 10Best winner fought its way back, thanks to judicious upgrades. Here are the 2002 winners and a few words on why we like them so much


Current Cars: 2005 IR/IR M3, 2001 LMB/blk M5, 04 M3 wagon, 2017 i3
Past cars: 04 M3, 03 530i, 96 M3, S50B32 e36 M3 CM race car
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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 01:42:40 AM   #16
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C&D Long term test



Eight years ago, in April 1995, we published a long-term test of a BMW M3 and were delighted with the results. Except for its fragile wheels, which frequently were the losers in conflicts with American potholes, the M3 charmed us with its combination of speed, driver involvement, and general usefulness.

Then came the next-generation M3 in early 2001 with its hot-blooded Euro motor. This most exotic version of BMW's in-line six displaced 3246cc and revved to 8000 rpm, developing a peak of 333 horsepower—enough to slice a second from the old M3's 0-to-60 and quarter-mile times. Would this engine, which produces 102.6 horsepower per liter, survive everyday use? Your humble servants on Hogback Road resolved to find out.

We ordered a 2001 Laguna Seca Blue M3 two-door equipped with the Cold Weather ($700) and Luxury ($3100) packages, as well as adjustable-width seats ($500), xenon headlights ($500), a CD player ($200), and a Harman/Kardon sound system ($675). The total came to $53,309, which included the now-discontinued luxury tax and was more than $14,000 above the cost of our 1994 M3, but perhaps not unreasonable for the additional 93 horsepower and eight years of inflation.

Our M3 arrived in July 2001 and quickly captivated the hotshoes in the office with its amazing acceleration and sure-footed handling. With 1940 miles on it, we took the M3 to the test track and measured a 0-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds and a standing quarter-mile of 13.1 seconds at 107 mph. The electric-blue M3 also showed great grip, managing 0.87 g on the skidpad and stopping from 70 mph in 161 feet. Not bad for a car that can hold four adults and a decent load of luggage.

Along with that performance, however, are a number of characteristics that do not endear the M3 to your average drive-and-forget consumer. For one thing, the M3 has the most cold-blooded engine we've encountered in quite some time. The highly tuned six sometimes stalled at the first starting attempt. And often when it managed to run on the first attempt, it spit and bucked for several seconds before settling down. This car will teach you to adopt the sensible habit of fastening your seatbelt, installing your radar detector, and tuning your radio station after starting your engine, thereby giving it time to warm up. You would also be wise to mind the M3's trick tachometer, which progressively increases the redline as the engine warms up.

The casual driver will also be shocked by the M3's appetite for motor oil. Our car consumed its first quart in less than 1900 miles, and by its first oil change at 12,500 miles—a service interval determined by the onboard maintenance system—this ultimate driving machine had used three more quarts.

Whereas we don't mind popping the hood and gazing at the lovely engine while checking the level on the dipstick, it's just as easy to wait for the low-oil light to come on when the crankcase is down a little more than a quart. Either way, however, you would be wise to keep handy a supply of the special oil BMW specifies for the M3—Castrol TWS Motorsport or Formula RS 10W-60 synthetic—because it can only be found at BMW dealers at $9 per.

We didn't have this special elixir on hand for the first few of the 14 quarts of lubricant the M3 consumed between its oil changes during our 40,000-mile test. In one case, the only oil we could find in the wilds of Indiana was Valvoline nonsynthetic 10W-40.

Our M3 suffered no obvious ill effects from this crankcase malnourishment, but we strongly recommend that owners stick to the specified Castrol oil as there have been cases reported of M3 engine failure linked to using the wrong oil.

Our blue beauty rolled up the miles rapidly, both on long trips and around Ann Arbor. Opinions about the car quickly bifurcated into two camps. The hard-core enthusiasts loved the blend of sports-car performance and responsiveness coupled with sedan practicality. The comfort-over-speed crowd never cottoned to the M3's hard ride, high-rpm gearing, and elevated powertrain and tire-noise levels.

Winter arrived with full fury in January 2002, and it quickly became clear that the OEM Michelin Pilot Sport tires, which generated terrific grip on dry and wet pavement, were no match for the fluffy white stuff. We promptly mounted a full set of Bridgestone Blizzak MZ-01s, which rendered the powerful M3 practical in the winter.

At 22,400 miles, a minivan launched a large metallic hunk of debris into the front of the M3, taking out the headlight assembly ($810) in the process, as well as damaging the bumper, grille, hood, and fender. The repairs came to $2366.

About 4000 miles later, we noticed a clunk in the rear suspension that the dealer traced to loose shock-absorber mounts. New ones were ordered and fitted under warranty. We also asked the mechanics to see if they could do anything about the car's tendency to stall on occasion after a cold start, but they could find no problem with the engine-management system.

At 28,000 miles, the climate-control system developed a mind of its own. It alternated between blowing full blast and refusing to run at all. The malfunctioning parts were replaced under warranty.

At about the same time, we removed our snow tires. Instead of refitting the M3's original Michelins, even though they were only half-worn, we opted to try a set of Bridgestone Potenza S-03s.

The only other problem we had with the M3 was a sticky driver's door, caused by the inner weatherstripping, which was dragging on the back surface of the inner door panel. The weatherstripping was replaced on both doors at our 38,000-mile service, under warranty, which solved the problem permanently.

That particular service was the third regular stop called for by the onboard maintenance system. The first two were at 12,500 and 25,300 miles, and they all consisted of an oil and filter change, a raft of general inspections, and the replacement of the activated-charcoal microfilter, which sifts dust, pollen, and pollutants from the climate-control system.

The first two of these services were included free in the BMW's three-year/36,000-mile maintenance package, and the dealer even threw in fresh windshield-wiper blades at each visit. The third service, at 38,000 miles, was the only one we paid for, and it ran us $163.

A bit high-strung in some ways, the M3 has too much sporting flavor to suit many drivers. But if you want full-fledged high-performance sports-car capabilities in an everyday-usable package for four adults, the M3 is a terrific choice

WINTER TIRES: With no snow tires available in the M3's standard sizes of 225/45ZR-18 front and 255/40ZR-18 rear, we ordered a set of equally sized 17-inch wheels and tires from the Tire Rack (800-981-3782; www.tire For $1288, we received four 225/50QR-17 Bridgestone Blizzak MZ-01s mounted and balanced on 7.5-by-17-inch AT Italia Type 5 alloy wheels.

These tires sacrifice some grip on dry pavement and are noisier on the highway than the standard Michelin Pilot Sports. But they're magic in the snow, rendering a car with the M3's winter disadvantages—lots of power, a 50/50 weight distribution, wide tires—eminently usable. If you plan to drive your M3 in a snowy climate, you need tires like these.

SUMMER TIRES: Although the M3's original Michelins were far from worn out when we removed our snow tires for the summer, we decided to try a set of Bridgestone Potenza S-03s to see if we could improve the car's firm ride. The general consensus was positive in this regard. Although the Bridgestones hardly transformed the M3 into a 530i, they did mitigate some of the worst bumping and thumping. The Potenza S-03s also displayed at least as much grip as the Michelins. Unfortunately, after 14,000 miles, the center part of the rear tires had worn completely bald. In contrast, over 18,000 miles the Michelins retained 47 percent of their tread life—proof positive that tire design remains a grand compromise.

REMOTE RADAR/LIDAR DETECTOR: If a bright blue M3 isn't cop bait, nothing is. So we promptly installed Escort's new Passport SRX remote radar/lidar detector. This permanent unit consists of six modules, all of which need to be fitted and wired in the car by a professional installer. Our BMW dealer did the installation and tucked the radar receiver and the two lidar detector/jammers neatly into the lower front grille. The rear lidar detector/jammer was mounted below the rear license plate, the interface module went under the dash, and the display/control unit went into an empty cubbyhole in the dash. In general, the SRX is a well-executed system that fit neatly and unobtrusively into the M3. Moreover, in addition to detecting police radar and lidar guns, the SRX is claimed to also "shift" or jam lidar signals to allow the targeted vehicle to slow down.

After 40,000 miles we went to DaimlerChrysler's Chelsea proving ground to check the SRX's performance. We brought along the winner of our last radar/lidar test (February 2002), a Valentine One, as a reference and control unit.

On the X- and K-band radar tests, the range at which the SRX detected the radar gun was roughly one-fourth of the Valentine's range. On Ka-band, the SRX detection range was about two-thirds of the Valentine's (detailed results of all tests can be found at

This reduced performance might be partly due to the SRX radar receiver's low mounting point in the front grille—an inherent characteristic of permanently mounted detectors. The Valentine One, mounted on the windshield, had a higher perspective, which is likely advantageous.

This low mounting position didn't seem to diminish the SRX's sensitivity to lidar—it was roughly 20 percent better than the Valentine, both front and rear. To determine how well the SRX's jamming capabilities worked, we simulated a police lidar trap at 1200 feet using three different lidar guns: a Kustom Signals Pro Laser, an Applied Concepts Stalker, and a Marksman LTI 20/20. We tested the SRX with the M3 approaching and receding from the guns.

The SRX successfully jammed the Pro Laser, both coming and going, preventing it from registering a speed at any distance. It was also pretty effective against the Stalker gun, forcing error messages from 1100 feet down to 200 feet coming at the gun, and from 0 to 1000 feet going away.

The SRX had a tougher time with the newer LTI 20/20 gun. When approaching the LTI, the SRX reduced the gun's effective range from 1000 feet to 800. Going away, the LTI tracked speed out to 900 feet then flashed an error code, but reestablished tracking at 1000 feet. Against the LTI, you'd have to be very quick on the brakes to avoid a ticket.

Available only at new-car dealerships, the Passport SRX (including installation) costs $1500. A premium model with voice alert and a completely hidden display costs an extra $100. If you insist on an almost invisible detector, or live in an area thick with lidar guns, the SRX is not a bad choice. To find a dealer near you, contact Escort at 800-964-3143 or

Finally, every boy racer's dream come true. A competition car with license plates!

Whatever compliance the base 3-series has that makes it such a delight as a daily driver has been completely dialed out of this machine.

The CD player doesn't like burned CDs. A big downside for younger people because nearly all of mine are burned.

It is a truly luxurious, all-out sports car.

Plenty of room for all the cargo on a weeklong trip to Boston.

I much prefer the other 3-series cars to the M3. It's just too "in your face" for my tastes.

Superb acceleration, world-class brakes, reflexes worthy of an Olympic fencer.


Current Cars: 2005 IR/IR M3, 2001 LMB/blk M5, 04 M3 wagon, 2017 i3
Past cars: 04 M3, 03 530i, 96 M3, S50B32 e36 M3 CM race car
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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 02:02:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: e46 M3 Press/Media/Reviews/Articles Thread

Great buying guide from Jalopnik:

The Affordable Supercar: The Ultimate E46 M3 Buyer's Guide

What is this, and why do I need one?

This, dear readers, is BMW's ode to induction noise, lateral-Gs and tire smoke. It's your high-school sweetheart frozen in time, before they had a chance to gain 35 pounds and pursue that career in door-to-door knife sales. It's a capable daily driver, weekend toy and track harlot rolled into one timeless, (mostly) analog package.

Underneath its bulging hood lay the final form of BMW's race-derived naturally aspirated inline-6 S54 engine, making 333 horsepower, winding out to over 8000 rpm, with a torque curve flatter than a tone-deaf American Idol contestant. It gets from a stop to 60 MPH in less time than it took you to read this sentence. Here's everything you need to know about this astonishing platform.

There are two gearbox options: The manual 6-speed, and the SMG 6-speed. Let's cut to the chase - you want the manual. The SMG trips over its untied shoelaces when in traffic, and although it can be quite fun when approaching the speed limit, its affinity for eating clutches on hard launches and its inability to keep the SMG pump working for a prolonged time make it something to skip completely.

There were also two body options: The coupe and convertible. I'll save you some time here again - you want the coupe. Not only is the convertible less flowing aesthetically, it's heavier and not as rigid as its slim coupe sister.

Pictured: This is like putting a Wonderbra on Kate Upton. She definitely doesn't need it, and the end result is arguably worse than when you started.

The interior isn't spartan, but it's not something that would be considered fully loaded by BMW's standards. The base interior is dyed leatherette material covering a mildly-bolstered sports seat. Above that, there's a Nappa heated leather option with matching door panels and interior accents in colors ranging from "Mom paid for this" black to "More than you can afford, pal" burnt orange.

After 2004, the ZCP Competition Package was introduced, which gave the interior a bit of the european CSL flair, including alcantara steering wheel accents, shift knob, and gave the chassis upgraded steering, braking, and a upgraded 19" wheels all around. In my mind, this was BMW's way of making up for the neutered E36 M3 . I guess it's a start.
BMW went back to basics with the electronics in this car, as they only offered a 1-zone climate control in the E46, when the E36 had a dual-zone climate as standard. The base audio system was a BMW business CD, with options for a navigation (Widescreen DVD available on '02+ models), and a Harman Kardon premium upgraded speaker option available.

The efficient and responsive engine delivers very not-bad fuel economy, with some manual gearbox owners reporting just shy of 30 MPG highway, and just shy of 20 in the city.

How much can I expect to pay for it?

At the time of writing, based on my expert opinion, in no way pulling figures out of my nether stinky bits, I'd say the market has reached its bottom and they're as cheap as they'll ever be, considering mileage, options, and any mechanical issues. With just under 44,000 units sold in the US between 2001 and 2006, there's no shortage of examples to be had in the market.

To understand how much to pay for a specific example of car, I'll rank on a scale between 1 and 4, called the Car's Roadworthiness, Aesthetics and Performance, or C.R.A.P.

1. The Unicorn: A 1-owner car with ridiculously low mileage, garaged exclusively. It has a full dealer service history and the owner is extremely pedantic and sentimental about ownership. The car is flawless inside and out and has had all work performed by qualified professionals. The receipts for the maintenance and repair work completed are in chronological order in a 3-ring binder and possibly laminated, and all original materials are accounted for. This is a car that is devalued when it leaves the garage.

Price range: $20,500 - $30,000+, depending on location and options.

2: The Prize Possession: A car that has been maintainted by its owner at or above the standards set by the manufacturer. The only thing keeping this car from being a 1 are some threadbare details or details that could use some reconditioning, due to wear and tear. Mileage is relatively low, but not so low that you might mistake it for a car left in storage since new. A low number of owners and mostly available service history let you know this car was cared for well by all previous owners. A nearly perfect car.

Price range: $15,500 - $20,500, depending on location and options.

3. The Value Meal: A car that is average condition for the age, with miles being fairly acceptable. This car may or may not have service history, but shows no signs of major mechanical or cosmetic damage. It will need some reconditioning to get anywhere close to a 2 in terms of appearance. The title is clean, but may have a larger number of owners with a questionable history. It'll require some more money after the initial purchase, but it's a solid foundation and warrants an in-depth look, if not an outright purchase after inspection. Most cars will be in this category.

Price range: $10,500 - $15,500, depending on location and options.

4. The Dumpster Fire: A car that is a flat tire away from being totalled. This car will need major mechanical or cosmetic reconditioning to be presentable and driveable. This car may need to be towed, and may have a salvage title or major accidents in its past. Stay away unless you know what you're doing, or you want a parts car.

Price range: $6,500 - $10,500, depending on location and options.

See what they're selling for in real time on Ebay.

Is it expensive to maintain?

Yes, and no.

Regular maintenance can be a bit more than on a regular pleb person's car, but it's not astronomical. Just as I wrote in my article about used luxury cars , this car requires an oil made specifically for BMW M cars, Castrol 10W60. A full oil change, if you're not doing it yourself, can run you around $150. If you can manage to turn a wrench in the right direction, you can save about a third of that.

Other than general maintenance, prices on parts are reasonable and there are enough aftermarket suppliers and community supporters that anything you need should be relatively easy to come by if you're willing to hold out for a deal. Expect around $700-$900 in regular maintenance each year, with $1500 every 3 years for a major service, such as valve adjustment and clutch.

What problems should I look out for?

The E46 M3 has had quite a checkered past with a few major issues plaguing the otherwise relatively spotless reliability of this oddly simple car.

First and foremost, check the rear subframe for cracks or tears in the metal surrounding the mounts. This is a problem with all BMW E46s and costs many thousands of dollars to fix if left untreated, not to mention it makes the car unsafe to drive. If you're buying a car, make sure to check it yourself. If there is a small amount of damage, a chassis reinforcement kit can be purchased and installed with this guide. If you do find a car with a heavily damage subframe, it's not inconcievable that the repair costs could exceed the costs of the car.

Pictured: This will ruin your weekend.

In addition, there were 2 major recalls that you should look out for:

There was a "service action", or non-compulsory recall done on early '01-'03 cars regarding the connecting rod bearings. They were improperly sized at the factory, leading to premature catastrophic failures of the engines. Check that this recall was completed. If the owner is unsure, any BMW shop should be able to provide that info to the registered owner free of charge. The recall number is SIB 11-04-04. An early M3 with this recall done should be regarded as just as good as the later models. There are no associated risks with an earlier car with this work done, and at this point, it's very, veryrare to find a car without the recall work done at some point.

The second recall was on the VANOS solenoid, as it would seal improperly and fail over time. This wasn't as prevalent and wasn't compulsory. The DME (engine computer) was also reprogrammed in this case. The recall number is SIB 12-11-06.

The rest of the car is pretty flawless, other than some occassionally slow window regulators that require silicone lubricant every now and again.

What are the most desirable options?

If you really want your milkshake to bring all the boys to the yard, you'd need a 6 speed manual coupe, either Carbon Schwartz, Imola Red or Laguna Seca Blue, late model, preferably 2006, with a Nappa leather interior, ZCP package, Park Distance Control and DVD Navigation. Yeah, that would be mighty, mighty tasty. Now go find one.

Would you buy one?

If you had been following me on Twitter, you would've seen that I already have one and I'm trying to scrape her from the slimy bottom of my patented C.R.A.P scale and make her presentable enough to warranty a hefty profit and a cool story for my next Art Of The Flip.

Who else has one?

As a matter of fact, the fearless leader of the /DRIVE network, JF Musial, has one.

I just bought one, what do I do now?

Drive it like your hair's on fire.

Last edited by Obioban; Thu, Feb-19-2015 at 11:53:30 AM.
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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 02:07:56 AM   #18
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Old Thu, Feb-19-2015, 11:14:46 AM   #20
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Jeremy Clarkson writing for The Sunday Times

Get one fast before they muck it up

[Broken External Image]:

Many thousands of years ago, I was a member of the Ford Cortina 1600E Owners Club (South Yorkshire branch). We’d meet once a month, in a car park, and would mooch about in the rain looking at one another’s cars. Looking back on the experience, I really can’t see why this should have had any appeal at all. I mean, yes, my car had a picture of Debbie Harry in the centre of the steering wheel, but other than that it was pretty much the same as everyone else’s car.

Perhaps we thought that because we all had the same type of car we had a common bond, a platform on which lasting friendships could be built. But they were all miners. And when they lost their jobs a few years later they had to burn their cars to stay warm. So the bond was gone.

Today I loathe, with a furious passion, all car clubs. The notion that you’re going to get on with someone because he also has a Mini is preposterous. Clubs are for people who can’t get friends in the conventional way. They’re for bores and murderers.

The Ferrari Owners’ Club is particularly depressing because they all have carpet warehouses in Dewsbury and creaking £10,000 rust buckets from the Seventies and Eighties.

Most turn up at events in Ferrari hats, Ferrari shirts, Ferrari racing booties and Ferrari aftershave and you can’t help thinking: “For heaven’s sake, man. You’ve spent more on your apparel then you have on your damn Mondial.”

Anyone with the wherewithal to buy a proper, important Ferrari from the past 60 years is going to have better things to do with his time than drive to some windswept motor racing circuit no one has ever heard of and spend the day watching a bunch of Dewsburyites going off the road backwards in their botched and bodged 308s.

Mind you, I’d rather swap saliva with someone from the Ferrari Owners’ Club than go within 50,000 miles of someone who turns up to Aston Martin events. Because there are no cheap Astons in the classifieds — well, none that will actually get you to an owners’ club meeting, or even to the end of your road — the members are a lot more well-to-do than their oppos with Ferraris. There are few regional accents, and lots of green ink.

All of them are stuck in the 1950s when for a few glorious years Aston Martin did manage to win a couple of not-very-important racing events. And all of them, you know, were attracted to the brand not because Aston made the best cars — it really, really didn’t. But because they were made by British people and not “darkies”.

The worst thing about an Aston Martin Owners Club member, however, is not his politics, or his still burning flame of hatred for Harold Wilson. It isn’t even his shoes, or his trousers. No. It’s the way he refers to all previous Astons by their chassis numbers. And to the people who raced them by their nicknames.

“Do you remember when Pinky and Lofty drove xvr/ii-2? Course that was before bloody Wilson.” Sometimes, when they talk to me. I find myself wondering what they’d look like without a spine.

Moving, slowly, towards the point of this morning’s column, I must alight now at the BMW Drivers’ Club, or whatever it’s called, which used to host an annual event at the Nürburgring. This was an opportunity for them to turn up and show off their new short-sleeved shirts. I went once and it looked like a meeting of the Jim Rosenthal Appreciation Society.

Anyway, what they do, once they’ve examined one another’s leisure attire, is drive round the track and then get marked by judges for speed, accuracy and knowledge of the track. I came 197th out of 201.

Naturally, this was the car’s fault. I’d taken one of the very first M3s, the left-hand-drive quasi-racer, which was great if you knew what you were doing, but a twitchy little bastard if you had fists of ham and fingers of butter. If you turned in to a corner with a little too much power, the back would swing wide — this was before traction control — and soon you’d be careering across the grass on your way to what Aston Martin Owners Club people call “ the scene of the accident. Ho-ho”.

Unfortunately you’d also find yourself on the grass if you turned in with not quite enough power, or if you applied too much lock, or not enough lock, or the right amount of lock but a mite too quickly or a little too slowly. I hated that car with a passion.

Over the years, of course, BMW toned the M3 down to make it a little easier for nincompoops. But you know what, I’ve never driven a single one that I’ve liked. The last time I reviewed an M3 in The Sunday Times I said it was probably the worst car in the world. It was a convertible and the whole thing shuddered and shook over bumps. Plus, it had an early incarnation of BMW’s flappy paddle gearbox that was diabolical.

Friends kept telling me that the core of the car was sensational and that I was being put off by the trimmings. Yes, in the same way that I’d be put off eating a delicious shepherd’s pie if the chef had sneezed all over it.

Subsequently I tried the CSL version on the Isle of Man. This had a carbon fibre roof, a sequential gearbox, a boot floor made from cardboard and a big nostril in the front. It was very fast, and on the super-smooth TT circuit it was sensational. But on all other roads the ride was utterly brutal. So hard that it actually shook the tape off the heads of our television cameras.

And so it was that, never having driven a normal, non-sneezed-on M3, I tried Audi’s new RS 4. It was wonderful. Much better, I declared, than the BMW. And that would have been that until the new M3, with a V8, comes along later this year.

But then, last week, guess what rocked up at my house? One of the very last of the old M3s. They call it the CS because it has slightly faster steering than the ordinary model, along with slightly larger brakes and bigger wheels. But other than this it was standard. There was a proper manual gearbox, a roof, no iDrive, no sauce and no garnish. Finally, then, I was going to have to drive in the pie, sans phlegm.

Ooh, it’s a handsome thing. The body seems to have been stretched over the wheels, in the same way that bodybuilders’ skin appears to have been stretched over their muscles.

And inside everything is just so. Oh sure, the sat nav system is from the generation before BMW had even the first inkling how to make such a thing work, but the driving position, the moleskin steering wheel. It was all . . . just so right.

Not as right, however, as the way this thing drives. God, it’s good. And it’s even better when you push the little “sport” button. This sharpens everything up even more, like you’ve given your horse a taste of the whip.

There’s none of the early M3 skittishness and terror, and (sat nav aside) no stupid forays into technologies that don’t work. It’s just a beautifully balanced, forgiving and thrilling driving machine.

So, if you’re after a car of this type, what to do? Wait for the new M3? Dive in now and get a CS? Or go for the Audi RS 4? That’s a hard one. I’m sure the new M3 will be a thrilling car. But I’m also sure it’ll look like a big pile of dog sick, so we can discount that. That leaves us with the Audi and the CS.

And that gives us one of the most delicious choices in any corner of the motoring universe.

I’d have the Audi, for its engine. You might well go for the BMW, for its poise. And you know what? We’d both be winners.

-Model: BMW M3 CS

-Engine type: 3246cc, six cylinders

-Power: 338bhp @ 7900rpm

-Torque: 269 lb ft @ 4900rpm

-Transmission: Six-speed manual

-Fuel: 21.1mpg (combined cycle)

-CO²: 323g/km

-Acceleration: 0-62mph: 5.2sec

-Top speed: 155mph

-Price: £44,850

-Rating: [Broken External Image]:

-Verdict: A rocket; sneeze and you’ll miss it


Current Cars: 2005 IR/IR M3, 2001 LMB/blk M5, 04 M3 wagon, 2017 i3
Past cars: 04 M3, 03 530i, 96 M3, S50B32 e36 M3 CM race car
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Discussing e46 M3 Press/Media/Reviews/Articles Thread 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 (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)