Also noteworthy is that the 0-62 time for the E46 M3, vs. the E36 M3 were only 1/10th apart (the E46 a tick faster). The rolling acceleration times were a slight better, but nothing dramatic. Part of the problem is the car is fatter by some 200 pounds. To fix this, BMW is again talking about a "sports" version (like the LTW) to satisfy the real hot-rod fanatics. Other difference includes 18" wheels, 255/40 rear rubber, wheels styled like the original E36 M3 LTW wheels...
Now we get to wonder whether the US gets the 340hp new Euro motor, or the 320hp motor? The E46 version uses the double Vanos system (valve timing controlling both intake and exhaust), unlike our single Vanos (intake only).
Personally, I hope they didn't mess up. The 240hp US engine is a great peice. I think the power band is excellent, torque comming in low, and power where we can use it. The 3800 to 6000 rpm range is essentially where I live, I'd hate to see that pushed up to the 5,500 to 7,900 range, just so the company can gain bragging rights to power numbers. While I wouldn't mind the added 100hp, I'd rather have it in the same range we have now.
I've built and run race engines. I know that rpm's make power, etc... etc... I can also tell you from experience, power at the cost of drivability is a total waste of time. The Honda S2000 is a shining example of this. Impressive numbers, wowser revs, and an engine you'd HATE driving in every day traffic. I had an MR2 afflicted with a need to rev to gain any power at all. It gets old real fast...
BMW explained in one article that it considered bagging the 6 in favor of the V8, but the marketing gurus felt this would cross up the 5 series sell (?). Since when is the 540i an option/consideration when shopping for a small sport coupe? The 5 is not only a sedan, it's bigger, more expensive and not sporty (M5 aside)!
The M3 is going to get rave reviews I'm sure. However, my guess is, every review will make some negative note of how the power is delivered, as they have in Europe.
It'll be ineresting to see what happens. There is also the repercussions to us M coupe types. If the M3 succeeds in drawing buyers away from the coupe, predictions of the M's demise may just come true. The M roadster is certainly more viable in the long haul. With just 600 to 700 units volume a year, plus a few hundred Z coupes, our beloved toy is hardly a major component of the BMW marketing mix. If the M3 is seen as their new sports compact icon/hot-rod, then the M coupe could be toast in 2002 (especially if sales drop off to the low 300's). Spartanburg, by then, will likely need the room to expand the X5's production capacity, which will outsell (annual valume) the entire Z3 line by the end of the year (prognostiaction allowance of +/- 3 months)!
That's very cool with me. I'd love to be sitting in a car that is destined to be not only a classic (maybe even collectible one day), but a rare bird on the streets for years to come. One reason I never considered the M3 (E36 or E46), is here in LA, they are as common as Honda Accords! Owning an M3 here is just not a big deal, at all. But the M coupe is, it's very rare indeed I see one on the road, let alone at the same time as I'm driving mine. Part of the fun owning hot cars is causing a few people to turn their heads. The M3 just won't do it here. Even though it's pretty stunning compared to the E36 M3, the E46 M3 still doesn't have enough "zap" to stand out in a sea of 323i's, 328i's, and lookalikes from all over the globe. When they add the 4 door versions, then the convertible, it gets even more homogeonous and less imposing.
Besides, the M coupe, even with the 240hp motor, is likely to wax even this latest version of the M3! How can we complain about that?
Personally, I'm holding out for the upcoming 6 series. From what I've seen it is seriously hot. All coupes, all V8's, styling along the same tack as the Z3. Is supoosed to come out just about the time I'll be getting itchy for a new toy...