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Old 04-04-2017, 07:39 PM   #31
blee
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Just some random thoughts after several hundred miles of ownership:

When JST turned in his E46 M3, I remember some of the reasons he had for disliking it; mostly, it was hard to enjoy in the everyday commuting environment, and it only got to be really fun at really illegal speeds.

I get it. There's plenty of horsepower and torque on tap, but you need to wind up the engine to really appreciate its character. This car is not super easy to drive at low speeds. Takeoffs from a stop are kind of clunky affairs if you're trying to accelerate slowly, and upshifts at lowish RPMs are also ungraceful. Downshifts are weird at low engine speeds, requiring more throttle than you'd expect to match smoothly. For that matter, the shifter (which maybe isn't aftermarket, after all) is not smooth in the first place, particularly when it's cold. Meanwhile, the wide tires and sporty suspension make for loud noises in the cabin, and even compared against other older cars, there are lots of mechanical noises that you have to accept as normal. I mean, it's almost 14 years old, and I'll readily admit to being less than the world's best driver, but I think my observations are valid.

Well, the weather finally decided to be nice to me this afternoon, 80ish and sunny. I very (im)patiently waited for the oil temp to rise as I drove away from the office, ending up at a light with no one in front of me and a 55 MPH speed limit. Windows open, radio off, and a couple of trips to redline reminded me why I love this car so much. Everything just falls into place as the revs go up, including that awesome exhaust rasp.* The clutch feels just right, the shifter slips into place perfectly, downshift blips are a piece of cake, and the car steers like it's reading my mind. Falling back to earth and rush-hour traffic, things still seemed somehow better, as if the car just needed to take a big breath and yell for a couple of minutes. It was a cathartic experience, a very necessary way to blow away the dregs of a trying day at work.

So yes, it's a little high-strung, and it doesn't enjoy tottering around from one city block to another. But I don't care. Hell, my other car is a truck.

*Yes, I seriously love the rasp. I'm curious to know whether a previous owner modified the exhaust at some point to reduce the rasp; my car doesn't seem to be as raspy as others, but it's hard to judge from inside the cabin. I'll figure it out in the next couple of weeks. And if it has been "fixed," at some point in the future I plan to install the Euro headers and cats, which should get rid of the second resonator that comprises most anti-rasp solutions.
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Old 04-04-2017, 07:50 PM   #32
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Euro headers and cats are less raspy than the US exhaust, as I recall. It's been a long time since I installed mine.

A couple of things that make the car dramatically better to drive:
1) A tune. Either Epic (what I have), or Evolve. A lot of the around town drivability issues are due to crap throttle map calibration. Standard is a little soggy, Sport is undrivable. And they extra torque makes a HUGE difference.
2) A better shifter. Autosolutions is awesome once broken in. I'd probably do the 0% kit today. It wasn't available when I got my 20% kit.

If you're in the DC area, you're more than welcome to try mine out.
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Old 04-04-2017, 07:53 PM   #33
blee
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Originally Posted by Nick M3 View Post
Euro headers and cats are less raspy than the US exhaust, as I recall. It's been a long time since I installed mine.

A couple of things that make the car dramatically better to drive:
1) A tune. Either Epic (what I have), or Evolve. A lot of the around town drivability issues are due to crap throttle map calibration. Standard is a little soggy, Sport is undrivable. And they extra torque makes a HUGE difference.
2) A better shifter. Autosolutions is awesome once broken in. I'd probably do the 0% kit today. It wasn't available when I got my 20% kit.

If you're in the DC area, you're more than welcome to try mine out.
Yeah, from what I can tell, the Euro setup is a bit less raspy, but I'll take that trade-off for the significant performance boost. A shifter and a tune are also on the list, but I want to take care of the preventive stuff first -- rod bearings, VANOS, suspension bits, and so on. It's gonna be a little while.
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Old 04-04-2017, 10:36 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blee View Post
When JST turned in his E46 M3, I remember some of the reasons he had for disliking it; mostly, it was hard to enjoy in the everyday commuting environment, and it only got to be really fun at really illegal speeds.
I thought those were his parting thoughts about his E90 M3.

The E46 is a great GT once you replace the shocks, exhaust notwithstanding. Good, usable and accessible power. My E46 M3 experiences are pretty far removed at this point, but I always felt like the six speed was much more livable than the SMG.



So long as you're enjoying it, who cares?
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Old 04-05-2017, 12:23 AM   #35
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I remember thinking BMW did something after the first year or two of the S54 cars to make the exhaust note less like forks in a blender. I definitely remember later E46 M3s and Z4M coupes sounding a lot less broken to my ears than the early ones.
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Old 04-05-2017, 12:28 AM   #36
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I don't recall if they changed anything on the M3, but the MZ4 definitely had a different exhaust note
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Old 04-05-2017, 01:52 AM   #37
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No, the E90 wasn't unpleasant around town, just kind of boring. Or at least not as interesting as the price point suggested.
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Old 04-05-2017, 05:44 PM   #38
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No, the E90 wasn't unpleasant around town, just kind of boring. Or at least not as interesting as the price point suggested.
Got it.
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Old 04-05-2017, 06:19 PM   #39
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On my test drive if you keep it in first or second tooling around at about 3k then yeah no issues.
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Old 04-05-2017, 10:22 PM   #40
blee
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Originally Posted by Plaz View Post
I remember thinking BMW did something after the first year or two of the S54 cars to make the exhaust note less like forks in a blender. I definitely remember later E46 M3s and Z4M coupes sounding a lot less broken to my ears than the early ones.
Eh...I really like those forks in the blender. Never thought I would.
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