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Discussion Starter #1
Folks,

A question that has been burning me up - I am thinking of getting an E46 M3 from BMW as an approved used car. Thing is, I dont want to go there and test drive a car without a bit more feedback / research. I am buying up all the literature I can find and reading that, which is helpful. You guys know this stuff practically though, so my questions are these:

Which do you prefer and why :

SMG II or manual ?

How good in practice is the factory fitted sat nav?

In other words, if a car has it, is the premium (if any) is worth it? or am i better off going without sat nav and buying a map (ol Skool!)

19 inch wheels look cool, but which has the better ride/handling balance - 18s or 19s?

I realise this is a personal taste thing, but would be grateful for your views on this.

Cheers

Trev
 

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All my answers are in the bold below....

A question that has been burning me up - I am thinking of getting an E46 M3 from BMW as an approved used car. Thing is, I dont want to go there and test drive a car without a bit more feedback / research. I am buying up all the literature I can find and reading that, which is helpful. You guys know this stuff practically though, so my questions are these:


Which do you prefer and why :

SMG II or manual ?

I have never driven SMG 2 (only driven SMG 3, which I think is fantastic), but I hear it is nowhere near as good as SMG 3. With SMG 3, you can get smooth and fast shifts but you need to work to get them, which I like. However, with SMG 2, many M3 owners I know say it is often hard to achieve a smooth shift even if you drive it attentively, and the transmission doesn't rev-match the downshifts every time.

I have a 6 speed manual, and I am happy with it. It is not the best part of the car (I find the shifter to be a little "imprecise"....not as smooth or direct as, say, a Porsche Cayman's shifter. However, my friend put a short shift kit in his and he said it made a huge difference, and I'm thinking of doing this myself. Overall, I think the M3 is best suited with a 6 speed, but you really should test drive both if you are on the fence.

How good in practice is the factory fitted sat nav?

I've barely used it, as I do not have this option. From what I remember, the E46 navigation system is pretty similar to the one in the 2001+ E39 M5, so if your former E39 was at least an 01, you will know what to expect. I have on of those portable Garmin GPS systems (buy yourself one for a couple hundred bucks) that I can put on my dash if I ever don't know where I am going, and it works great. Honestly, if you find a great M3 for sale without Nav, take a look at it because it really isn't the most important option IMO. Plus, without nav, you have your CD player up front (doesn't matter much to me but my dad likes this about the car...don't know if this would make a difference to you).

Our M3 has Harman Kardon sound, Cold Weather Package, and a couple other options that I'm forgetting. There are few must have options, but the two I listed I really find important, as we keep the M3 in Boston and therefore like to have heated seats, and the base sound system is really low quality so Harman Kardon is pretty much as must have.

In other words, if a car has it, is the premium (if any) is worth it? or am i better off going without sat nav and buying a map (ol Skool!)

See above.

19 inch wheels look cool, but which has the better ride/handling balance - 18s or 19s?

Never driven with the 19s, but everyone I know who has say the 18s ride smoother and better. The 19s are really just for show, as they are heavier, ride pretty hard and are supposedly more unforgiving over bumpy roads. Honestly, I think the 18s look plenty good (in some cases, even better, such as on Imola Red cars where the darker 18 inch wheels contrast the red nicely).

I realise this is a personal taste thing, but would be grateful for your views on this.

Cheers

Trev

Hope this was helpful...please keep the board updated if you go test drive or buy one! Good luck.



afc1
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks AFC1.

Really appreciate it.

My M5 was one without the factory sat nav, which to be honest, I didnt miss - too busy listening to the fantastic V8!

The force is particularly strong with that one!

They say you never go back, so I am looking at the E46 instead.

Will keep you posted.

Cheers

TrickyTrev
 

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Car specs are such a personal thing, and with this in mind the best advice is to go out and look over as many as you can before buying.

For what its worth my comments on the points you've raised are that the 19's are for "show", 18's are for "go". The 19's ride harshly but at the end of the day you can pick up a genuine set of 18's cheaply enough these days for it not to be a problem.

The built in Sat Nav imo is a worthwhile option, if only for resale value, but is much better on the DVD based system that was offered from September 2002 onwards. I would recommend both but the DVD based sysytem is much better.

My prefernce is a manual gearbox over SMG of either stage 2 or 3. Both SMG stages may be great but i much prefer the interaction of using the gearbox when pushing on. Old school i think they call it these days...

I think the Harmon Kardon is worthwhile option but don't pay over the odds just because a car has it. Other than that the electric rear windows are handy as are the heated seats.

Mine also has the tyre pressure warning system and a rear electric blind but other than avoiding having any blanking plates in the car these are not necessities.

Hope this helps.

Jon
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Jon.

Out of interest - has your 2002 M3 covered lots of miles?

I am looking at a silver E46 which has done 88k. This didnt worry me in the M5 as i had done most of them! but in the highly strung 3.2 it is a bit of a question mark.

I have yet to see yours on the road by the way...

Cheers

TrickyTrev
 

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Mine only has 35k on it but i paid accordingly for this low mileage.

I wouldn't worry too much about high mileage as having spent 6 months searching for mine can claim to have seen maybe 40 or 50 with well over 100k on the clock. The engine appears to be very strong, its the bits attaching to it that are more likely to go wrong with high mileages.

Keep looking out for me, but don't blink, you might miss me ;0)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Jon,

You may not have seen my post earlier, but i bought the e46 the other day. In spec terms, its right up there with yours. Mine is silver / grey interior which looks pretty cool imho. It also has the tinted rear windows and shadowline exterior which i am pretty happy with. Despite your feedback, it has 19 inch wheels so i guess i'll live with it.

I get it next weekend all being well as BMW are giving it a final fettle before i take delivery. Looking forward to getting it - i have too long been without an M car.....

Suddenly driving around herts will be a lot more fun!

Cheers

TrickyTrev
 
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