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      02-16-2009, 03:18 PM   #1
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Review: E92 M3 vs E82 135i

I posted a thread a while back in the General Discussion thread asking for opinions on the 135i vs the M3. The lease on my E550 is up in a few months and I was looking for a car to replace it. Prior to the E550, I had 3 different E46 BMW's, the last being an M3. I really miss having a sports car and as much as I tried to modify the E, it was still a boat to drive.

Price isn't an issue but I would never spend more on a car if there was a better alternative for less money. I got a lot of conflicting responses on the differences between the 135i and M3 so I decided the only way to really know what was right for me was to drive both. Luckily, I have a great relationship with my CA at the dealership. I went in to the dealership mid-week during the day and he gave me the keys to a demo 135i as well as an M3 out of regular inventory and let me take them for a drive by myself. This gave me the chance to really "experience" both cars and spend around an hour in each one. I came out of the dealership having ordered a 135i.

First, I want to make it very clear what I was looking for. I had been driving an E-class for the last 2 years and was done with the things you sacrifice when you have a 5300lb luxury car. I wanted the comforts of “luxury” (i.e. latest technology innovations like GPS, Bluetooth integration, heated seats, keyless access/start, etc.) but something that was also “tight” and responsive, had a lot of consistent power, and was easily modifiable as I grew accustomed to the stock version. It had to be a comfortable daily driver but also able to transform to a machine well suited for a “spirited drive” or an occasional track day.

Here were my impressions: I took both cars on a familiar route that I have driven hundreds of times. The drive started on a freeway entrance with a perfectly banked, curved on-ramp...good for getting the tires warmed up. The freeway run was a few miles with some significant uphill sections. It was perfect to race through all the gears, get in some downshifts to pass, test how well 6th gear will pull, etc. After getting off the freeway, the rest of the drive was winding back roads through the hills. It was a good mix of just about everything: large sweeping corners both uphill and downhill, VERY tight turns, well banked and ill-banked corners, etc.

I drove the M3 first. It was a coupe with every option available including DCT. I spent the first 10 minutes or so getting familiar with the M Mode settings so I knew how to get into the settings to change throttle response, suspension settings, stability, etc. It was actually just re-familiarizing myself since I had driven the M3 a couple of times before for short intervals. Besides, I pick up on that stuff very quickly.

My first impression was "HOLY POWER!" it took a sec to get into the peak of the power band but once it's there, it's THERE! However, if you don’t have the rpm up in the power band, it's not as impressive as I'd expect. My reference point would be my E550 and E46 M3, for what it's worth.

That initial impression was the first and last exciting one. In other words, the experience started out elevated and dropped over the next hour. The M was an amazing car...don't get me wrong...but it just wasn’t what I was looking for. It is a big, heavy car! I don’t like how much bigger the 3-series is getting year after year. I want to make it clear that it didn’t feel quite as big as it actually is but no matter how much technology you put into a car, you can’t completely hide the feel of the size and weight. Now, if it were gutted and turned into a track car, that would be a whole different story.

Another impression I had was that the car was very responsive and almost drove itself. In fact, I even told the CA after I drove both cars that the M3 felt like it was controlling the driver as opposed to the driver controlling it. Some people would want this and pay $72,000 to get this out of a car. But, I wanted a car that gave me back as much as I put into it…that I was always in control of and knew how far I could push it and that there was a breaking point. All the technology almost seemed to get in the way of that. I recognize that this could be a point in the “plusses” category for some people…not for me.

All in all, the M3 was an amazing car but it just didn’t leave me saying “WOW”, I have to have that car!

After I got back with the M3, I jumped into the little 135i (at least it felt little). It was a 6 speed manual and didn’t have many options. It definitely isn’t as refined as the M3 but the demo vehicle also didn’t have many of the options that the M did such as iDrive, leather, sport package, etc. It was still very nice inside and I was able to sit in one with everything including the 09 iDrive, Bluetooth, and iPod integration.

The 135i did something to me that the M3 failed to do. It gave me a permanent smile the entire hour or so I drove it. I kept saying to myself, “WOW, this car is amazing!” The 135i is so much more agile, tight, responsive, and FUN!!! It had plenty of power and a ton of torque and the best part was it was felt throughout the entire power band. No matter what gear I was in, no matter what the rpm’s were at, it was there. I could only imagine what software will do to the N54.

Unlike the M3, I was able to control the car how I wanted and it would give me back as much as I put into it. I could easily feel the limits of the car and I always got feedback when I pushed it. As I said before, I felt like I was in control of the car, not the car in control of me. Not sure if I already mentioned this, but it was so FUN!!!

All in all, I loved everything about the 135i. I will definitely make some changes to the software and suspension (and maybe to the intake/exhaust system) because I can and its relatively inexpensive but I would be happy with the car stock as well.

I hope this helps someone that is trying to decide between the two cars as I know that not everyone has the ability to really drive both.
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      02-16-2009, 03:40 PM   #2
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and another is converted! You think you will order one?
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      02-16-2009, 03:51 PM   #3
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and another is converted! You think you will order one?
He did order one
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      02-16-2009, 03:51 PM   #4
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Nice story. And if the E92 M3 would have had the same price as the 135i which one you'd choose then?

j/k

They are both great cars.

Congrats on ordering the 135i.
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      02-16-2009, 04:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by achtungE30 View Post
He did order one
Yep, European Delivery scheduled on April 3rd. I ordered a 6 speed manual, AW, Black leather, M Sport, Premium, Cold Weather, Comfort Access, Nav, Premium Sound, and PDC.

Already have a ton of parts sitting in my garage waiting to be put on.
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      02-16-2009, 04:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Hood View Post
Nice story. And if the E92 M3 would have had the same price as the 135i which one you'd choose then?

j/k

They are both great cars.

Congrats on ordering the 135i.
Actually, I was looking at this '08 E92 M3: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...3AVRI&viewitem=

I got approved for financing on it through PenFed at 3.99%. It was exactly how i would have ordered an M3 if i were to get one (except for the sun roof). At $55K, it would be a wash on price as I am looking at almost $10K in mods for the 135i. I truely made the decision with price being essentially the same.
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      02-16-2009, 05:27 PM   #7
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iv got a garage full of parts t! you will love your 1.
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      02-16-2009, 05:51 PM   #8
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      02-16-2009, 07:15 PM   #9
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I personally love the 135i. If I did not have my car this would have been my next choice.
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      02-16-2009, 07:18 PM   #10
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      02-16-2009, 07:34 PM   #11
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Welcome... and I miss living Portland.
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      02-16-2009, 07:57 PM   #12
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I think I am almost decided with the 135i . Better steering feedback, better day to day fun car, and that's what I want!

I remember the first time I drove the M3 a couple years ago, and decided I don't need the M3 because I can't use the performance unless I've taken it to the track. I now I am recalling how "crazy" it was with the 135i, where your boost starts below 2000rpm!

I think I am going to get the 135i.

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      02-17-2009, 01:13 AM   #13
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Wow, a very interesting prospective. You gonna need my flame suit because it's going to get hot in here. Now I have to go test drive the M3 and GTR myself.
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      02-17-2009, 01:29 AM   #14
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      02-17-2009, 10:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparoz View Post
I think I am almost decided with the 135i . Better steering feedback, better day to day fun car, and that's what I want!

I remember the first time I drove the M3 a couple years ago, and decided I don't need the M3 because I can't use the performance unless I've taken it to the track. I now I am recalling how "crazy" it was with the 135i, where your boost starts below 2000rpm!

I think I am going to get the 135i.


Yeah, boost starts below 2,000 (where not needed) and ends at 5,000 (where needed). The motor looses 100 lb-ft of torque where it needs it most. Therefore, if you like this motor, don't ever think of yourself as a spirited driver. Spirited driver's don't find fun at low rpms. Please get the 135i. You're not the M3 type.
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      02-17-2009, 11:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
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Wow, a very interesting prospective. You gonna need my flame suit because it's going to get hot in here. Now I have to go test drive the M3 and GTR myself.
Yeah, I realize that there will always be those that feel like they need to argue someones opinion to protect their $70K decision. I tried to be very clear that it was my opinion based on a set criteria that I started the drives with. Everyone is going to have different wants/criteria/preferences which will lead them to different decisions. I would definitely drive both cars if you get a chance tho! Especially the GTR! I haven't had the oppotunity to drive a GTR yet. I do like the concept of the switches for adjusting suspension, launch control, etc.

Quote:
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Therefore, if you like this motor, don't ever think of yourself as a spirited driver. Spirited driver's don't find fun at low rpms. Please get the 135i. You're not the M3 type.
Hmmm...interesting statement! Ok, i'll leave that alone.

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Originally Posted by MVF4Rrider View Post
Yeah, boost starts below 2,000 (where not needed) and ends at 5,000 (where needed). The motor looses 100 lb-ft of torque where it needs it most.
The beauty of a turbo engine is that software can change that very dynamically.

Last edited by SLO; 02-17-2009 at 01:33 PM.
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      02-17-2009, 03:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MVF4Rrider View Post
Yeah, boost starts below 2,000 (where not needed) and ends at 5,000 (where needed). The motor looses 100 lb-ft of torque where it needs it most. Therefore, if you like this motor, don't ever think of yourself as a spirited driver. Spirited driver's don't find fun at low rpms. Please get the 135i. You're not the M3 type.
So if you have a 997 Turbo you can not be a spirited driver, because peak power isn't in high rpms...
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      02-17-2009, 03:25 PM   #18
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Therefore, if you like this motor, don't ever think of yourself as a spirited driver. Spirited driver's don't find fun at low rpms. Please get the 135i. You're not the M3 type.
That's such bullshit.
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      02-17-2009, 04:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MVF4Rrider View Post
Yeah, boost starts below 2,000 (where not needed) and ends at 5,000 (where needed). The motor looses 100 lb-ft of torque where it needs it most. Therefore, if you like this motor, don't ever think of yourself as a spirited driver. Spirited driver's don't find fun at low rpms. Please get the 135i. You're not the M3 type.
good lord, thats the most ignorant statement ive heard in a while

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      02-17-2009, 04:51 PM   #20
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What a troll!!
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      02-17-2009, 05:00 PM   #21
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The 135i is a nice little car, but I think the preference depends on the driver. If you like it great but the M3 is a totally different car.

I found the engine anemic and suffered at higher RPMS, just when it was getting good it got bad and ugly. Yes it makes a ton of low torque but it makes no long power like the M3. I had a 335 so I know the engine, it was a Stg III Dinan and it made a ton of torque, but it doesn't compare to the M3.

The two really are distinctly different cars. The turbo engine is a dream but oen day for some it may turn to a nightmare. I wanna see how they last over the next few years.
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      02-19-2009, 12:44 AM   #22
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Quote:
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good lord, thats the most ignorant statement ive heard in a while

I'm glad you said it...I was going to the say the exact same thing!!
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