The E30 Evo Sport and the E36 Evolution were the final incarnations of their M3 time. We put them head to head to find which delivers the knockout punch.
Both these cars feel frantically fast, but despite being nearly 100bhp down on the Evo, the earlier car is a bantam weight to the heavy weight E36, and their power to weight ratios are pretty similar. Sure the benchmark figures favour the later car, but on the road at relatively legal speeds, the difference is not that great.
The way the cars deliver their power is though. Both thrive on revs, but it is the six-cylinder car that produces the all important torque. Thanks to its double-Vanos, it is far happier to pull away enthusiastically from low revs, and to match its pace in the E30 would need to drop down a couple of cogs. However, these are sports cars, so we shouldn't be too fussy about having to stir around with the gearlever, this is meant to be fun after all.
After a stint in the E30 the E36 feels leaden. Its down to the controls again. Not only is the Sport's steering far superior, but its combination of throttle, gearbox and clutch ensures it delights in ways the Evolution can only dream of. Sure, the dogleg 'box takes some getting used to, but once mastered playing with its five cogs is unadulterated fun. The E36 in contrast has a more obstructive box, a poor clutch action (it's all or nothing) and a stiff throttle meaning it is difficult to apply in small doses. Driven in isolation it feels fine, but after the E30 it all feels rather awkward.
After the Evo Sport, the later car just can't cut it. Sure the E36 is faster, more practical and possibly a better everyday car. But that's not the point speed isn't everything these are sports cars, they should exhilarate, and there's only one car which fits the bill here.
If you haven't driven an E30 you will be happy with an E36, but there is a sense of occasion and expectation every time you slip behind the wheel of the Evo Sport that it just can't match.
And in an another article:
THE NEW M3
Is the new M3 a winner? Without a doubt, it's a resounding 'yes'. While the E30 M3 remains the very pinnacle of M3-ness, the E46 is the closest BMW could expect to get to that car's soul, while satisfying the demands of today's sporting driver.The engine is a gem, with its near-perfect synergy of torque and power producing devastating results. The chassis offers levels of poise and delicacy that would surprise most exotica, and has a steering set-up with a level of precision which allows you to exploit all the M3's ability.
On an English A or B-road, you would need to spend considerably more than the £38000 price tag to come near its four, fat tail-pipes. In fact, you'd have to spend £17000 extra and order a Porsche 911.
Is the new M3 any good? Of course it is. It's a supercar