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My M6 is in for service (it sounds like a diesel at idle), I checked up on it today and since it was finally nice out in the Toronto area, I took a new M3 out for a test drive. Here are my thoughts vis-a-vis my M6 and 335xi Coupe (slightly modded).


Engine, Power and Acceleration
The M3 is deceptive (like the M6), it doesn't kick you in the pants. The 335 definitely "feels" faster given the torque. I was initially very disappointed in the M3 acceleration. It definitely lacked the torque of the 335. I was shifting at 5500-6000 rpm....the M3 didn't feel too hot.

When I had more room on the road, I started shifting at redline and that's when the M3 really started to shine. The car transformed from a lackluster car into something really quick. As I am tuned to the M6, I know the torque will not be there but the M3 definitely pulled like an ///M car....steady decent torque for a long time.

Directly comparing the M3 against the 335xi, the 335xi punches you and lets you back up and the engine starts to wheeze in the last 1500-2000 rpm. The M3 pushes you back and keeps you there all the way to redline.

Directly comparing the M3 against the M6, they are very similar in the way the engine delivers power. A good push and you stay planted in the seat. The overall sensation is that the push in the seat doesn't stop. The M3 seems to have a more steady push throughout the entire powerband and seems to wheeze after 7500 rpm. The M6 has a ramp up in power around 6000 rpm, it really does feel like VTEC kicking in to those who know what VTEC is. The M6 feels notably faster (obviously).

Throttle Response
The 335xi feels like a fat American car compared to the M3. In fact in Sport Plus, the M3 is way more responsive than the M6. When you step on the throttle with the 335xi, you feel an immediate surge in torque followed up by a steep ramp in torque as the turbos build boost. With the M6 and M3 you get an immediate response and acceleration.

The difference between the M6 and M3 here is Sport Plus for the M3, makes it extremely difficult to drive smoothly at slow speeds. I switced to Sport and it was alot easier to modulate the throttle at low speeds and in the few curves that I took. I need to question the need for Sport Plus mode.

During heel-n-toe, the M3 engine is amazing, a little blip and rev matching is easy. With the 335xi, the engine is less responsive so the act of downshifting takes slightly longer.


Handling, Steering and EDC:
It is hard to gauge what the M3 is capable of on the streets but I took a couple of high speed corners. There was a little push and you can definitely feel the M Differential push out the rear end as you apply the throttle....very nice and very predictable. When I apply the throttle on the 335xi in a curve, the front end pushes out. When I apply on the M3 / M6, the front end goes from a slight push to neutral to being able to throttle steer. The M Differential rocks.

The car definitely feels tighter than the 335xi. Oddly enough the M3 feels more like the M6 than it does the 335xi. The 335xi just doesn't set in the corners like the M3 / M6. The 335xi feels like any of the other 3 series that I have driven. The M3 / M6 just feels different...

Steering ranking.... M3 > 335xi > M6

Conclusion:
M3 is a beautiful car, deceptively quick. I really want to take an M3 to the track to explore it limits. Engine sounds great....needs an aftermarket exhaust system though.

No doubt a modded 335 will be faster than the M3 in acceleration. But from the limited time that I have had with the M3, the handling / suspension / neutrality is awesome. If a modded 335 is going to match the M3, the owner is going to need to invest a bunch of time and money.
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Great writeup, thansk for that!

I agree with many of your points, that comparing a 335i vs a BMW M3 is two completely different cars.
 
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