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Seriously considering to make the big step...

1138 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  DavidS
Can someone who has (or had) an M3 (E46) and an M5, make a comparison, or show me a decent page with pros en cons...

I'm sure you guys all have one advice : get an M5 (since it's an M5 board). Problem is, i've NEVER driven an M5 and can't compare the feel of one against my M3. My mind says : get a sedan, but my heart says : it won't have the nimble feel of an M3... .I'm not really interested in placing an order for a new E60 M5 because it is sooo expensive and the power will be certainly fun, but it'll have my license revoked before you can finish reading this sentence...

Keep in count that an M5 with 80.000 km and reasonable maintenance will set me back a little more than selling my current M3.
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There are a lot of people who got their licences revoked while driving E39 M5s too. And probably M3s as well...

Anyway, the M3 and M5 are quite different cars, the M5 is much more comfortable while performance is very good on both cars. When you push it, the M5 feels like a much smaller car in handling. I think you would enjoy it.

If you drive your M3 to any car dealer with an M5 in the showroom and say: "I´m thinking of trading my M3 for an E39 M5, can I have a look at the one you have for sale, please", they will definitely let you drive it. Even better, call in advance and set up an appointment.

Thanks, I always thought an M5 felt very heavy. See that's the problem, nobody will let me drive an M5, because I drive an M3 but it isn't registered on my name (it's officially my girlfriends car). They always think I just show up with someone's M3 to take a joyride in an M5. My age certainly doesn't help over here ... now I'm just old enough to go to a Citroën dealership and ask if I may test-drive their cheapest car. I've also never seen an M5 at the dealership over here, except the owners one. And since I've had two accidents in the couple of years I'm driving (one my fault and the other one not, luckily not the M3 and nobody got hurt) I'm am not a driver who earns their trust...
Have you asked dealerships to let you drive and they turned you down?

You can not simply show up and say "I´d like to drive that car, please".

1. Call ahead. Tell them you want to buy an E39 M5 and want to either trade or keep your M3.

2. Give them a few date and times to choose from. So they know you are a really busy person.

3. Dress smartly. Bring your GF.

Before I bought my M5 I went to a used car dealer to look at an 03 M3. I drove it, and then an '00 M5 that they had on the lot. The throttle and clutch movement in the M5 felt more "heavily performance oriented" versus "track day only" like in the M3. The M5 felt more like a car I could live with on a daily bases, and no matter where in the RPM range you are at, there is always tons of Torque at your disposal:haha: The M5 doesn't feel like a heavy car, and I don't have aproblem hussling it around corners & on the occations that I have other people in the car, it's a lot easier for them to get in and out off as well as not feeling like their filling may fall out. My perceptions are not based only on the one test drive of the M3. My old roommate has a 2003.5 M3, so I know about the M3. The M5 is also a little more under the radar. A lot more people notice my friends M3, than realize the quad exhausts of my M5.

They are both great cars, but it depends on what you want. I wanted a fun torque happy daily driver that could haul a few people around in comfort.
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Thanks for the tips. I've noticed you always have helpful tips (mechanical/other) for people with issues. Much respect for that, if I lived in Sweden I certainly would come over and have a chat with you :).

Yeah BeastCharmer with an M3 it's more obvious but I believe that's an evolution, the new M5 isn't very discrete if you keep a 'normal' 5 in mind.

I think there are a few posts begun by a few people in your situation. - run a search to get some feedback not covered on this thread. I was in your shoes 2.5 years ago.

I was used to an e36 m3 (my brother, and a couple of good friends had them) - loved the reflexes, and balance of comfort/power/handling/reliability. That as a baseline, the e46 is a much more graceful car cosmetically, and is a more substantial car. However, you lost a noticeable amount of the "direct-ness" of the e36...even more when compared to the e30.

In terms of sheer looks - I prefer the e46 - the profile is absolutely beautiful, even after 4 years. IMHO, it is the best looking production car (sans Z8) that I've seen from BMW. Unrelated but related note - I love the M our tastes may be different.

Of course, we can't go on looks alone. Going from an e46 m3 to an e39 m5 is kind of like going from an e36 to e46. You feel more weight, lose a little of the "direct" feel, in exchange for a more substantial motor and a more "user friendly" car (translation: the wife likes it better, but so do you).

Of course, 4 doors was a big factor...but it wasn't critical for me. What did it was the s62. Although the 0-60 times are very close...the feel is much different. Thrust feels much stronger and "instant" in the m5, compared to the 3. At 60mph, in 6th gear, you still get a jolt. The effect is amplified as you accelerate hard into triple digit speeds.

An M3 may be able to keep up (not sure), but it won't give you the same feeling. My being on this board shows you which I chose. A four door with that motor... the loss in "direct" feel and cosmetic profile was minimal compared to what I got in return.

It's not like you're really compromising on anything either - the e39 has the looks, and its capabilities are beyond the majority of people who drive them. I'm not scared to say the car has more cajones than me - it just won't stop accelerating. Handling? You feel the difference on the track or balls-out driving. I don't track my car, and I have only one time had to save a fishtail.

I think at the end of the day, you will not regret purchasing an e39 m5 after the e46 m3. Going by what I see, you shouldn't have to spend much more money these days to get into least an 01. Just be prepared to spend money on electronic maintenance (CPS, MAFS, o2/temp sensors, vanos solenoids or units, etc. etc. etc.) if you're not under warranty. Not sure if the '02+ m3 is similar in this regard.

Hope this helps,

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Jep thanks to you too Lance, I have to say if I ever get a drive in an M5 and it is like you all say, it'll be hard to say no. I have to find an M5 that matches my wishes though, I won't say there are no M5's, but I really want it to be perfect.
I just did it last Sunday. Here's a couple pictures of my 03 M3 next to my 02 M5. Topaz Blue vs LeMans Blue. Good representation of the two cars (although my M5 are chrome, not shadow chrome)

As for how they compare, the M5 definately feels different and larger then the M3. The M5 has power on tap ALL the time. The M5 rides much smoother then the M3 did and is a much better cruising car, even on local roads (I drove my M3 daily FYI). The M3 looks more agressive, you sit lower in the car. The M3 felt like it wrapped you up a little when you got inside.

I'm happy with the M5 thus far, it's more of the car I was after compared to the M3. Not the 4 doors part, but the more torque and the better cruising car for my local commutes. And as you may have read in other posts, the sound of that V8 is just amazing.
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Hmm. Question of M3 vs M5 comes up quite often. Frankly I dont know why one would want to compare an E46 to an E39. Yes they are both BMWs and are both M cars but the similarities pretty much end there. One is a heavy 4door and one is a "lighter" coupe. Yes the interior styling is the same, seats are the same; we'll assume that interior is similar enough and I feel the question is geared to peformance of one car vs the other.

I have an 01 M5 and an 02 M3. The M3 was my first "sports car" and I bought a CPO M5 in October of 04 as a daily driver. (M3 is my weekend fun car). Both cars are sticks.

The M5 is a bigger and heavier and roomier car. The suspension is softer. It has the benefit of significant torque down low. The M3 does have torque but you have to spin it to about 4500K to feel anything significant.

Dont forget that the displacement of the M5 is about 5 liters and the M3 is 3.2 liters. The engine characteristics are therefore different.

The M5 feels faster but it is not (I am not going to split hairs of 2 or 3 tenths of a second). The 2 cars are essentially equally as fast up to 100 mph. I believe that the M5 will take the M3 at the higher speeds where air resistance plays more of a role and the greater HP of the M5 should win out.

The M5 is a comfortable cruiser. I drive long distances in West Texas. Lubbock to Amarillo to Odessa, etc. The M3 is NOT comfortable for a long ride like that on a routine basis due to the rather stiff suspension.

The M3 is a more quick and agile car. If you want to mess around on the track, or on a twisty road or street, take the M3. 3300lbs vs 4000 lbs - you feel the difference. Also, with DSC off, if you loose the rear on the M3 (oversteer) it is easier to recover than if you do the same in the M5.

In the M3 you pretty much have to flog the engine to get good power out of it. Some one compared it to a Honda VTEC engine - I have to agree with that comparison. The M5 has a lot of torque down low. At 2K you have adequate power. You can make slow turns in 3rd gear in an M5. If you do the same in the M3, the engine will misbehave.

They are both wonderful cars. Both fast enough. Both will loose to a Corvette, C5 and definitely C6 and to a E55 AMG and similar.

If one races one car against the other, the M3 cant be caught at low revs or it will loose badly. Otherwise I feel both cars will be within a few car lengths of one another until 100-110 mph at which point the M5 will pull away. Although I dont know this for a fact.

I have felt comfortable taking the M3 sideways but I cant say the same for the M5; something about the sheer size of the car and the feeling that I might break something suspension-wise.

If you want a more "agile" car - get the M3. If you want to more restrained cruiser - get the M5.

I hope that helps.

I bought the M5 after I went to the BMW M driving school in the fall of 04 where over a period of 2 days we really flogged the crap out of both M cars. The stuff that we did in the M3 you would not want to do in the M5. But that is where I fell in love with the M5.

I must add that the new M5 is fugly. I dont care if it will outperform the old one.

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cvp911t, I read your analysis below, and it fits my feelings to a T - good job of weighing the differences between the cars! I can't believe how almost everything you wrote matches my sentiments exactly.

I just recently purchased an 02 M5, and for me, I can't imagine one car that would make me happier! I have an e36 M3 that I am selling, but don't get me wrong, I adore the e36. It has qualities that are remarkable in terms of road feel and fun, but I agree, an E30 has even more!

I was torn between a new e46 M3 with Competition package and the M5. I drove three different Comp packages (SMG and 6 spd) and probably close to 10 M5's (I am 49 yrs old and had no problem getting a dealer or private party to let me drive the car). The e46 was definitely closer to the e36 in overall "feel" (than the M5), it was more powerful, I could drive it aggressively, so I knew it would be fun, but it felt like I was moving one more step away from the road feel of an E30.

Then the M5, well, it was yet another step away from the E36, but for some reason it made sense. After all, it is a larger car, immensely comfortable, and the S62 was just constantly making me smile! And, the handling is pretty darn good for the size of the car.

I was able to leave the M3s behind (my E36 and the possibility of an E46) for the M5, but you see I have an 89 325IS! If I want to go zipping through the twisties or enjoy a track day or autocross, I still have a very capable E30.

But, for my tastes, the M5 just "does it for me" way more often for my life stlyle right now. I am sure I will own another M3, because as many have said in this thread, it is a wonderful car that has elements that can't be replaced in the M5.

I think you should keep your M3 for now, it sounds like you are pretty young, and how can you beat the raw sex appeal of the M3s, I would think it wd be a much better "babe magnet" than the M5? But maybe you have no needs in this area? ha

There will be times for you as you get older when you can own a 4 door sedan.


PS - here is another thread that discusses some pros and cons
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Thanks Steve, I'm going to try and fix a test drive in an M5. You're probably right about the age, since I'm reasonably young I do appreciate the harder ride of an M3. But the whole package of a comfortable ride and tons of power will be hard to refuse once I get a bit bored with my current car (although me and my GF are enjoying it everyday, she too has a rather heavy right foot AND some real driving talent). Maybe it will take a couple of years (in which case there will porobably be 2nd hand E60's) or I might be making the move within a few weeks... We'll see what the test-drive says ...

Thanks anyway to everybody who has cleared out some questions that I really had for a longtime.
IWantOne said:
...if I lived in Sweden I certainly would come over and have a chat with you :).
When you get close to Lund, Sweden, you are welcome to stop by!

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