Post 74 has 2018/year 3 update!
This is probably going to be another long, drawn out, snooze-fest, CSB about how yet another CL member ended up with a new/new-to-them car. But at least I have a bunch of pics--albeit from a Galaxy S5, so no fancy pics. The story starts with this, a 2012 Mustang GT+brembo+security package:
I ordered the car in June 2011 and picked it up in September. It was my first truly domestic car, my first v8, and my first real performance car. The only thing I really did to the car was modify the suspension a bit with new dampers and springs and installed a pair of GT500 mufflers. All the other mechanicals were left alone. I liked the car for what it was--no regrets at all. But as time wore on, I starting to dislike the suspension and the overall size of the car. It just started to wear on me, as the car drove a lot bigger than it was and the suspension crashed and banged over even the smallest pothole. It lacked stability when driven with any level of spirit on anything that wasn't perfect condition pavement. I wasn't ready to throw in the towel ASAP, but my eye started to wander about 8 months ago. Things sling shot forward when I rented this for a trip up in NorCal:
Unknowingly at the time, this experience was my first test drive in what could be my next car. I wrote about this car last year, but as a recap, it was a 2014 C63. It was a spectacular machine. The ride was terribly firm around town and the transmission had problems with anything under 8/10s. But when pushed hard, the car was wonderful. Everything just worked together nicely at higher speeds. The car had a unique personality and I liked the edge. I was smitten with a rental! When I got back home, as expected, I thought about getting myself a C63, but only wanted the facelifted version which was released in 2012. I just couldn't find a '12+ anywhere near what I wanted to pay. So I cooled my jets on the C63, but have kept an eye out for them ever since.
Then my mind started drifting away from the C63 and towards a pre-owned 997. I never drove one so I wanted to see if these were worthy replacements for the mustang (as if!!). I ended up driving 2 examples:
An 05 Carrera
and an 08 Carrera S
The 05 was terrible. It rattled like crazy and the tire noise was fierce. I left the dealership wholly underwhelmed by the experience. I gave the model another chance and drove an S, which I likely would have wanted anyway. The 08 S was MUCH nicer. It drove like a new car and was very tight. The tire noise was still evident however. It had good steering and great brakes--all things you would expect with a 911. I didn't form an immediate emotional bond with either 997 though. I liked the C63 better, despite both 997s being 6mt cars. On that note, I wasn't terribly impressed with the feel of the shifter in either car.
At this point, I wasn't terribly sure what direction to go in. In my head the idea of an M3 came and went. It wasn't something on the surface that I was honestly all that interested in. But I thought that if I was going for a C63, I had to at least give an e9x M3 a try. Several months after I drove the 997S, I saw what looked to be the perfect M3--cloth seats, heated seats, competition package. It was basically equipped as sparsely as my Mustang. My interest in the car suddenly skyrocketed the more I thought about it. I made an appointment with the local dealer that was selling the car. Here it was on the lot:
It looked amazing to my eye. White isn't the most exciting, but I consider it a classic M3 color. Most of the e92 M3 press cars that I've seen were also white. The wheels and slightly lower suspension of the competition package (aka: ZCP) gave the car a great stance. I realized just by looking at it that a lower suspension would not be on my list of mods. Anyway, the time eventually came to take the car out for a ride. It was fantastic. I didn't kill the car on the test drive, but I got the impression right away that this car represents exactly what BMW is known for---excellent ride:performance balance. I knew going in that the 4.0L DOHC V8 was not a torque monster, but it drove wonderfully. The engine was smooth and liked to rev. The seats and steering (including the wheel itself) were fantastic--even has the adjustable bolsters like the c63 I drove. Here's the irony: the M3 doesn't have much more edge than the 997s. I think the problem is that touch points like the steering wheel and seats just felt more sporty. The issue more specifically is likely one of managing expectations. I expected the 997 to be harder core than it was and the M3 to have the excellent balance that both cars exhibited. Anyway the last major points to address are the brakes and shifter. The brakes had the same soft feel that a lot of modern cars have when initially pressing the pedal down (the 997 was vastly superior here), but when pushed hard, the brakes stop the car with authority. Then there's the shifter--meh. Better than what's in the 997, but I honestly, I liked the stock mustang shifter better. Then there are the larger issues like size and driving position--VASTLY superior to the Mustang.
In the end, the M3 just felt natural to me, if that makes sense. It fit in perfectly with how I expected the car to feel. In the end, as a daily I liked it better than both the 997 and the C63, and clearly the mustang. I like to think that if the mkV GTI 3-door I had and the mustang GT had a child, it would be a lot like the e92 M3. So I pulled the trigger. It was really just that simple. I saw it, I drove it, I bought it. Will I regret my casual approach to the purchase of this car? Maybe. I did buy an extended warranty though, so hopefully I won't get burned too badly if something catastrophic happens. I suppose that I could have found a better example if I spent time really searching for one, but I just liked this car. Being a 2011 that I suspect has been tracked, the paint isn't in flawless shape, but it's still pretty decent. It seems to have limited wear on the interior as well. The cloth seats and lack of the big nav-screen were big parts of what sold me.
So on to some pics and related commentary:
I recently got together with my buddy who has a 993 and we decided to take some pics of the cars:
Here is the dash in all it's nav-less glory! Nothing terribly special or clever here, it's traditional German: clean, simple, and easy to use. Some other interior touches that I think are interesting: there are orange LED map lights and LED lights that illuminate the inside door handles at night, which is a pretty interesting touch. There is also an arm that extends to make it easier to grab the seat belt which activates automatically when you first get in the car. I would not be upset if this piece breaks. Probably common among manual trans BMWs, but the top of the shift knob is also illuminated. Despite the spartan interior appointments, the car still has some luxury touches that serve to remind one what they are driving. The pic also shows the other option that the original owned opted for: the cloth CF trim. BMW seemed quite proud of themselves for this feature, based on its prominence in the 2008 M3 brochure. Definitely better than any type of wood that one could have opted for.
Here are the cloth seats. Certainly not as cool as the e36-era Vaders, but still cool from the perspective of BMW offering a cloth seat in a newer M3. I was really surprised by these seats for several reasons. Firstly, I always felt that the c63 had among the best seats you can get in a performance car---the side bolstering is pretty intense. After spending some time in both cars, the M3 also has some pretty impressive bolstering as well. I don't consider it a downgrade at all. The other part that surprised me about the seats is the level of adjustability. Despite lacking power adjustments in most places (the exception being the adjusters for the side bolsters and lumbar), the seats are still adjustable in many different ways, including the adjustable thigh support.
This is definitely a highlight of the car. A 4.0L V8 with 414 hp and 295 lbs-ft and a redline north of 8k rpms. As Ross demonstrates, this is a car for Honda lovers. It's the type of engine the Honda should have built because it's awesome--in a Honda VTAKKKKK sort of way. The torque delivery on the S65 is such that once you crest 4k rpms, the urgency of acceleration stays the same, despite a HP peak that isn't reached until around redline. I was very shocked with how low the gearing is--at highway speeds you're turning ~3 rpms, whereas I'd be at 2k rpms in the mustang. And not to mention, you're very close to the peak torque of the engine at highway speeds so there is really never a need to downshift, unless the person you're trying to pass is being difficult. Sound is a mixed bag in this car. The engine absolutely screams, likely due to induction noise of the air being forced down the 8 individual throttle bodies. It's a great sound that doesn't really come alive until >4k rpms. This is in stark contrast to the stock exhaust, which sounds like a regular 6 cylinder in many cases.
One thing that I am a little shocked with is "power" mode. The owners manual states that for the S65, this features increases throttle responsiveness. I didn't think much of it, but boy does it make a difference. It's almost too responsive if you aren't expecting it, in that the car can get a little jerky at low speeds and accelerating from a light is either very mild or balls to the wall---like an on-off switch.
Then there's this:
A '15 M4 with a bunch of Dinan goodies thrown on it. I like the S65 for the character is has, but a tuned S55 is in a different league from a performance perspective. I had an experience with this vehicle that made me wonder if I someone didn't swap my engine with a stock N20 from a 320i. And to be honest, I also wanted to post this car because I think it looks amazing.
So the next obvious question is what about mod? At this point, I'm not interested in going nuts on this car. In the immediate future, I'd like to get a set of black kidneys and side gills. Down the line, I'd like a louder exhaust and if it exists, something to improve shifter feel. ESS or VF superchargers would certainly be awesome fun and would go nicely with the S/C VR rado it shares a garage with, but I think I'd rather move to a faster car at that point.