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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-07-2008, 02:14:28 AM   #1
FCars4Ever
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Default Handling: 330Ci ZHP vs. M3

Ever since getting my M3 I have been driving it around 24/7 and loving it. I got a nail in my tire a few days ago and since then I have been driving around in my parents 330Ci ZHP. After driving it, I have started to get the feeling that the car handles a lot better than the M3.

Now before I get bashed, I have to say that I haven't tracked either car or pushed them extremely hard, but have taken them both through some twisties, some turns, and some straights.

In acceleration, the ZHP stands no chance. My question is why does the ZHP feel so much more stable than the M? I know for one that the steering ratio is MUCH better in the ZHP........ I feel that there is way too much "play" in the steering of the M. With the ZHP you point the wheel somewhere, and the car goes. Also, the ZHP feel a lot flatter, more predictable, and more confident (if that makes any sense?) in turns and corners.

Why is this? For anyone that has driven both, I would love to hear your impressions on the two.

The only two definitive reasons I was able to come up with was that the ZHP has a better steering ratio, and the fact that the ZHP has 18's versus the 19's on my M. Is the suspension on the ZHP better as well? It sure does feel like it.
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 02:49:39 AM   #2
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I read somewhere that the Owner of Turner motorsports has a ZHP and he LOVES it. I think it was in Bimmer magazine. He loved thrashing it and expressed similar sentiments. I cant remember if he changed wheels, tires, or suspension bits, but I do remember him appreciating the ZHP more.

The ZHP Will Turner drove was compared to a non ZCP m3. I think BMW addressed the concerns you had with the changes in the ZCP. Alot of people dont realize that the ZCP's softer suspension was a good thing; more grip, comfort and more compliant over crests, dips, and mid corner bumps. A hard suspension on the street is uncomfortable and not as compliant with uneven turns with bumps; which can cause the car to feel skittish and step out on you.
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 02:50:21 AM   #3
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I bought a 2005 330Ci ZHP while i was stationed in Germany, awesome car....noticably better looking than the standard 3 series and definitely a better performer, it was my first German car and i haven't looked at anything else since....however...after I deployed (and got an ass load of tax free money to spend) I ordered a 2006 ZCP (natural progression) and sold the ZHP to my brother back in the states. Dude, if you think you're m3 doesnt handle better than the zhp than you haven't pushed either car to the limit.......the ZHP...in my humble and somewhat experienced opinion is for guys or girls that cant afford an M3 or don't want to spend the extra money......that was the case with me anyway.....at the time i just couldn't scrape together the 50k for a less equipped m3 but i could get the 41k for a fully loaded zhp.....these are military tax free prices overseas by the way, anyways the ZHP has a more aggressive camber set up, bigger swaybars, and i think the front ball joints are better than a standard 3 series, plus the exhaust is a little lighter and has a better tone and the flywheel is lightened (awsome idea by bmw to put the zhp ahead of the rest in acceleration) but what it is not is an M3........my bro still dogs the sh*t out of it on the streets of Miami and now that he swapped out those horrible bridgestones that the car came with from the factory with some decent upsized goodyear f1-dsg3s or whatever he says it feels even tighter than before......which reminds me .....the thing i love best about my zcp is that the csl steering rack reminds me of my old zhp steering feel.....you're right about the steering......zhp is definitely more precise and better feeling than a standard overboosted m3.......but that's about where the advantages end. oh and 18's versus 19's is not a good argument.....less rubber means less sidewall flex and sharper turn-in. besides the m3 has a wider track and better suspension design and materials, badass limited slip (vs zhp's open diff)......plus the stock strut bar on 2003.5's and up really ties the front chassy together structuraly speaking. so does the 3mm thick aluminum reinforcement plate up front.....the list goes on dude......maybe you need a coilover put on your M or just a simple alignment and some ps2s.....because you are not exhibiting signs of an M owner with a properly function vehicle if you think a 3 series out handles your uber M.
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 05:17:47 AM   #4
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Someone posted a similar thread only two weeks ago. I've owned both. This is what I said:

"I also owned a 2005 330i ZHP. Here's some areas where the ZHP beat the E46 M3.

The ZHP steering is superior to the M3. It's tighter and feels heavier; there's zero "play" in the steering wheel. (If you do a search on this board, I believe you'll find members who have switched to the ZHP steering rack. It's that good.)

The exhaust sounds fantastic. Deep, throaty at all speeds. It's what the M3 should have sounded like.

Best-looking rims EVER from BMW came on this car. (M135).

The coolest "cloth" seats, too. They're actually Alcantara, and felt great. I have cloth now on my M3 and they are the not the same as the ZHP standard seats.

The ZHP comes with a better shifter. Although BMW claimed it was a short-shift tranny, in reality it was only "shorter" than BMW's typically high-setting stick.

The ZHP has a rear diffuser.

It was, as some professional reviews stated, an-almost M3 sedan. The ZHP couldn't touch the M3's acceleration numbers, however."

That thread is below:

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=194140

I've also now read more than once on this board how the ZCP "addressed" the loose steering on the M3. It does not. The ZCP is/was a $4000 package that eliminates ALL steering wheel controls for remote audio and phone functions. It also eliminates cruise control.

That might not affect someone who drives the car only on weekends, but for anyone puts a lot of miles on their M3, the trade-off is hardly worth it.

Last edited by Goody4; Thu, Feb-07-2008 at 05:30:43 AM.
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 06:15:12 AM   #5
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i have a non-ZCP M3..currently on stock suspension.

i frequently drive my gf's 3'er.

The ZHP is a great handling car and I prefer it at times when i don't want a harsh ride BUT the M3 is bar far a better performer. The ZHP will understeer and roll on hard turns whereas the M3 will get through it. The M3 is much twitchier which is probably why u think its hit its limit..but it can keep going if controlled whereas the ZHP is close to its limits.

I've also tracked the M3 but not the 3'er.
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 10:19:26 AM   #6
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I tried both out and almost purchased a 330zhp... The softer susp makes the 330 feel more stable, the m3 feels like it will skip in turns at about 70% IMHO whereas you start to feel sketchy in the 330 at about 85%. Accel out of turns in a 330 feels much harder to "break out" the rear, the M3 will feel like it will break the rear, but with LSD will keep it in line under more accel. 95% of drivers will feel like they can push the 330 zhp furthur, in actuality the M3 limits are much beyond where most people feel comfortable.

I personally felt the 330zhp was anemic under acceleration.
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 05:48:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2rama View Post
I tried both out and almost purchased a 330zhp... The softer susp makes the 330 feel more stable, the m3 feels like it will skip in turns at about 70% IMHO whereas you start to feel sketchy in the 330 at about 85%. Accel out of turns in a 330 feels much harder to "break out" the rear, the M3 will feel like it will break the rear, but with LSD will keep it in line under more accel. 95% of drivers will feel like they can push the 330 zhp furthur, in actuality the M3 limits are much beyond where most people feel comfortable.

I personally felt the 330zhp was anemic under acceleration.

yup..agree with this
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 09:50:58 PM   #8
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like i said....limits.....push both cars to their limits (or your limits as a driver) and you'll see that the M3 outhandles the zhp without a doubt.....granted I am comparing my ZCP with my old ZHP...and the steering feel on a ZCP is not a fair comparison since the majority of M3 owners don't have that steering rack, however, having driven both vehicles at very high speeds on the autobahn in the Bavarian mountains I can honestly say that they are both amazing handlers but the M3 will leave it behind.....the limited slip is probably the biggest reason but the rest of the car is just more performance oriented. I never took either of my vehicles to the nurburgring (and i will always regret that till the day I die) so I cannot say I tested either car out balls to the wall style but i think I gave both of them a pretty honest, non-biased 6-8 month test drive in a country where the driver can still have fun and be treated as an adult with a high-perf toy. Let's not make the ZHP out to be something its not.......say it was perhaps the finest non-M 3 series ever produced and leave it at that. the end.
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 10:26:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chevyrocs23 View Post
like i said....limits.....push both cars to their limits (or your limits as a driver) and you'll see that the M3 outhandles the zhp without a doubt.....granted I am comparing my ZCP with my old ZHP...and the steering feel on a ZCP is not a fair comparison since the majority of M3 owners don't have that steering rack, however, having driven both vehicles at very high speeds on the autobahn in the Bavarian mountains I can honestly say that they are both amazing handlers but the M3 will leave it behind.....the limited slip is probably the biggest reason but the rest of the car is just more performance oriented. I never took either of my vehicles to the nurburgring (and i will always regret that till the day I die) so I cannot say I tested either car out balls to the wall style but i think I gave both of them a pretty honest, non-biased 6-8 month test drive in a country where the driver can still have fun and be treated as an adult with a high-perf toy. Let's not make the ZHP out to be something its not.......say it was perhaps the finest non-M 3 series ever produced and leave it at that. the end.
You are probably right here. Like I said in the original post, neither car was pushed to the limits so I couldn't give a FULL comparison, but just under some tight/quick turns, the ZHP felt better. I can't wait until the warm weather comes back to take the M to the track!!!
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Old Thu, Feb-07-2008, 10:30:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chevyrocs23 View Post
I bought a 2005 330Ci ZHP while i was stationed in Germany, awesome car....noticably better looking than the standard 3 series and definitely a better performer, it was my first German car and i haven't looked at anything else since....however...after I deployed (and got an ass load of tax free money to spend) I ordered a 2006 ZCP (natural progression) and sold the ZHP to my brother back in the states. Dude, if you think you're m3 doesnt handle better than the zhp than you haven't pushed either car to the limit.......the ZHP...in my humble and somewhat experienced opinion is for guys or girls that cant afford an M3 or don't want to spend the extra money......that was the case with me anyway.....at the time i just couldn't scrape together the 50k for a less equipped m3 but i could get the 41k for a fully loaded zhp.....these are military tax free prices overseas by the way, anyways the ZHP has a more aggressive camber set up, bigger swaybars, and i think the front ball joints are better than a standard 3 series, plus the exhaust is a little lighter and has a better tone and the flywheel is lightened (awsome idea by bmw to put the zhp ahead of the rest in acceleration) but what it is not is an M3........my bro still dogs the sh*t out of it on the streets of Miami and now that he swapped out those horrible bridgestones that the car came with from the factory with some decent upsized goodyear f1-dsg3s or whatever he says it feels even tighter than before......which reminds me .....the thing i love best about my zcp is that the csl steering rack reminds me of my old zhp steering feel.....you're right about the steering......zhp is definitely more precise and better feeling than a standard overboosted m3.......but that's about where the advantages end. oh and 18's versus 19's is not a good argument.....less rubber means less sidewall flex and sharper turn-in. besides the m3 has a wider track and better suspension design and materials, badass limited slip (vs zhp's open diff)......plus the stock strut bar on 2003.5's and up really ties the front chassy together structuraly speaking. so does the 3mm thick aluminum reinforcement plate up front.....the list goes on dude......maybe you need a coilover put on your M or just a simple alignment and some ps2s.....because you are not exhibiting signs of an M owner with a properly function vehicle if you think a 3 series out handles your uber M.
by those same sentinments, you could say an m3 is for those that cant afford a real sport car like a Porsche or Ferrari.
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Discussing Handling: 330Ci ZHP vs. M3 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)