E46 M3 - what to look for?

Discussion in 'Motoring' started by richard plumb, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    Currently driving an E46 330Ci, and am considering my next car. I'd automatically considered an E46 M3, but may change that. The only rule set by the missus is that we have one BMW in the house. So I can let her have my 330 if I want another make (thinking 350Z perhaps, or another scooby)

    But the M3 is my most likely choice. Auto and hard top. I figure I have to own one at least once just to see how it is.

    Just looking for ideas really. What to look out for - whats the sweet spot in terms of age/mileage/spec. Whats the likely cost to change if I trade-in/sell my 2001 330Ci with 95k? Is there a variety in the gearboxes for autos (i have a tiptronic in the 330, does the M3 have the same, or just the SMG?)
     
  2. Ian J

    Ian J
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    If you're in the the market for an M3 don't discount the Alpina B3 as that will give you similar performance levels with the Alpinas tending to be somewhat more civilized as well as a little cheaper.
     
  3. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    what sort of price difference? I've not looked into the alpinas before. Maintenance similarly priced? (assuming good independent rather than main dealer)
     
  4. sidicks

    sidicks
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    There is no 'auto' gearbox, just SMG, which I think is classed as sequential manual for licence purposes (i.e. I don't think you can drive it if you have an 'auto-only' licence). However it is a two-pedal car. Gear changes are performed using the lever (forward/back for gear up/down) or via paddles behind the steering wheel. The SMG was updated to SMGII in around 2002/3, and the newer version is supposedly a big improvement.

    SMG does take some time to get used to, so don't be surprised if you come away unconvinced after your first test drive. The manual is a great car though.....

    Things to look out for:
    Facelift occured in 2003 with slightly revised rear boot lid and rear LED lights
    19" are a must, but are prone to kerbing, and refurbs can have issues after a while
    Full Leather (including multi-adjustable seats) was standard, Sat Nav / TV a popular option
    Black and Silver cars with black leather are common (and look great)! Red interior can look nice on a silver /black car. Be prepared to pay less for Phoenix Yellow or Leguna Seca Blue or for cars with grey / Kiwi interiors
    The engine is an awesome performer, but is a very aggressive, metallic engine (particularly on start-up), nothing like the creamy 6-cyl you have in the 330i.
    On a decent run you can get close to 30mpg, but 25mpg is probably more likely, dropping to mid-high 'teens if you are pushing on significantly.
    There were some issues with the 'S54' engine, but most should have been dealt with under a recall - often with part of the engine replaced.
    For this reason, warranty is a must, but recently BMW increased the annaul cost considerably - something like £1,200 p.a. if < 60k miles and £1,800 if > 30k miles plus there is an excess, I think
    www.BM3W.co.uk is a great source of information on these cars
    Servicing requirements vary according to usage etc (the dash warning tells you when a service is due) and follow a set pattern:
    1,200 mile running-in service (if this has noit been done, walk away!!), oil change, inspection 1, oil change, inspection 2, oil change, inspection 1 etc
    Reckon on £150 for an oil change, £400 for Inspection 1 and £750 for Inspection 2
    Circa £450 for a set of rear tyres and £350 for fronts
    CSL model included more power, light weight (carbon roof) and generally stripped of creature comforts inside - more track-focussed than the main model
    CS model introduced as part of a run-out special - basically the main version (i.e. including creature comforts) with some CSL bits!
    New M3 is due out in March next year, so prices for the old version have dropped recently (combined with the increased warranty costs)

    Sidicks
     
  5. DVD-Man

    DVD-Man
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    Excellent pointers sidicks!

    Having never drove or indeed owned an M3 I'll say this, HPI check is a must and check for accident damage to the rear end cos I sure there is owners out there with more &#163; than drivng talent.

    Liam
     
  6. sidicks

    sidicks
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    Forgot to mention, Silver Grey looks great ('cos that's what I used to have!)

    Sidicks
     
  7. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    thanks for the pointers. So a facelift, black/black, 19" rimmer with SMG II is what I'm looking for? Rough prices for, say, a 03/53 reg?


    ouch. I thought £250 for rears on my 330 was bad enough.


    I think I'd go black with black leather. All of my cars except my 330 (silver grey) have been black


    So its not fully auto? Will have to try the wife out on the steptronic for a while then, need to get her used to changing gears (even if it is semi-auto)
     
  8. sidicks

    sidicks
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    Last year I got &#163;25k for my low mileage 53 plate car (non-Sat Nav, but otherwise high spec). I guess that in current conditions, &#163;25k should easily get you a good spec, low mileage example with warranty (essential!).......

    If you have a budget and want someone to source you a car within that budge, then I know just the man - send me a PM. He does a lot of M3s, and arranged the sale of my car for me......

    Thats' for a pair of Michelin PS/2 in 19" (M3 specific tyres)- I'd recommend these rather than trying to find a cheaper brand, as they were purposely designed for the M3.

    That will look great, albeit very difficult to keep clean. Having said that, I can understand you not wanting to go for exactly the same colour combo that you already have on the 330i

    No, you misunderstand - there is a full auto mode where you don't have to use the paddles, but it's not regarded as the best auto in the world. The whole point is that, given the nature of the car, the driver involvement of the SMG box with paddle change is key. If you are jus after the Auto so your wife can drive it, then it should suffice.

    If you don't plan on using the paddles, then maybe the M3 isn't the right choice in the first place!!

    Sidicks
     
  9. DMT

    DMT
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    As previously said, don't be put off the paddles during a test drive, they soon become second nature; I use a mixture of paddles and stick. Also remember to use all of the 8000 revs, I was disappointed during a test (after owning STI Prodrive) until it was po:thumbsup: inted out that I was changing gear at 6000.
     
  10. Digger

    Digger
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    Interesting point raised DMT. I am scared to get to maximum revs in my 328i, not just because I would be breaking the speedlimit soon thereafter, but because of perceived reduction in the life of the engine. Admittedly my car has been perfect in 5 years of ownership, but now is 11 yrs old and has 80'000 miles on the clock. I doubt I have redlined more times than I have fingers in 5 years of ownership :rolleyes:

    Can someone tell me if persistent redlining is an engine breaker? - for the sake of argument lets assume you redline once a day if only to get rid of an annoying white-van-man to prove who really is the daddybully of the roads. May as well play on our tarnished reputation ;) :D

    EDIT So I dont add a post to deviate the thread; in response to Sidicks reply below, my rule of thumb is to wait for the temp needle (not sure if its engine/oil or a combo) to get to its midpoint before exceeding 2000 revs.
     
  11. sidicks

    sidicks
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    One of the most important things when considering engine longevity is to ensure that the oil is sufficiently warmed through before stressing the engine. To aid this, the M3 has lights around the rev counter indicating maximum 'recommended' revs. As the oil warms through, some of these light dissappear until the engine just has one or two orange lights and one red light at around 7,000rpm, 7,500rpm and 8,000rpm respectively (I can't remember the exact details, it's been a while since I sold mine!!) which remain on at all times.

    These are for guidance only, and established practice is to be more conservative and keep an eye on the oil temperature as well, before extending the engine.

    Providing that you adhere to these guidelines, then I do not believe that using all of the available revs would cause undue engine damage. Indeed, there is a school of thought that regular hard revving of the engine actually improves engine life. Having said that I am not a mechanic!!!

    In any case there is a hard rev limiter that should kick in if you fail to change up in time. I believe that you can ask the dealer to do a diagnostic on the number of times the rev limiter has been hit, if you are worried that this might lead to future problems.

    Sidicks
     
  12. sidicks

    sidicks
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    That's a really good point. Below 5,000rpm you'd be frustrated and wonder at what all the fuss is about. A decent hot hatch would keep pace. However, once you exploit the last 2-3,000rpm you really appreciate that it a real sports car !!

    sidicks
     
  13. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    I'm all for trying out the paddles. Its just the wife who would prefer auto, and who would prefer to be able to occasionally drive my car (she has a focus but enjoys driving my car when i'm away on business)
    so, just to clarify, the SMG can be used with paddles for me, and as a normal auto for the wife?
    those tyres are still expensive - i'm sure my pzeros were only £100 a corner, but they were 18s. I guess an inch makes all the difference ;)
     
  14. sidicks

    sidicks
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    Yep!!:thumbsup:
    Obviously you can shop around, but typically £225 per rear tyre is what I'd expect to pay.
    :thumbsup:
    Sidicks
     
  15. Digger

    Digger
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    If you look around you might find an example with 18" wheels? Might also have the benefit of improving the ride quality?
     
  16. sidicks

    sidicks
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    The M3 belongs on 19" - tyres won't be materially cheaper and in any case if the cost of tyres is really an issue, then the running and servicing costs will be a bigger issue.

    The ride quality isn't that bad, and after all this is a sports car........

    In any case, the M3 looks much better on the 19" wheels and really stands out from the rest of the 3-series range.

    Sidicks
     
  17. Digger

    Digger
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    What size rims do F1 cars use?
    Are you agreeing, or disagreeing to agree :devil:? So why does a standard spec M3 come with 18"? Seems as though 19" is possibly more style over real-world performance. Personally, I prefer stealth and performance, more than show. Hey thats me for you :)
     
  18. Ian J

    Ian J
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    A decent Alpina B3 is a much rarer beast as there were less of them made than M3's

    There is a rather nice 2003 29,000 mile B3 for sale in Lancashire at £20,000 at this site which might help with an Alpina / M3 price comparison.

    Alpinas can be serviced at any BMW dealership incidentally and if this type of car tickles your fancy there is a wealth of information and helpful people around at The Alpina Register
     
  19. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    The only problem with the alpina is that it looks similar to the 330ci. Whats the power on the b3?
     
  20. Digger

    Digger
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    Alpina Info from Parkers Linky
     
  21. DMT

    DMT
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    So it looks like a normal 3 series has 50 HP less + less torque and no flappy paddle gearbox; looks like a winner then:suicide:

    Sorry 1st ever sarcastic post.
     
  22. Ian J

    Ian J
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    You are correct that it may not be suitable for anyone suffering from small penis syndrome.

    Apart from the fact that the Alpina does have steering wheel buttons for gear changing you omitted to mention that it has a higher top speed than an M3 :)
     
  23. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    bump.

    Had a test drive in a 2004/04 today. Takes a bit of getting used to the SMG gearbox - not really an auto, more a manual but someone else is operating the clutch.

    Luckily I was prepared for it so I got used to it pretty quickly.

    Lots of fun and very nice to drive. Definitely smitten.

    The one I saw was very overpriced though. The dealer is getting another one in next week for me to look at - I've put a deposit on to secure it subject to a test drive.

    BTW, the one I'm looking at is a June 2003 model. As I don't have a picture yet, does anyone know when the LED rear lights came in? I'd prefer the slightly facelifted model if possible.
     
  24. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    Slightly different beast (!) but the Civic Type-R engine also requires you to use the full rev range to get decent performance out of it. If I'm having a spirited drive then I will change up just before the rev limiter, and I've never heard (on a Type-R forum) of this causing the engine any problems.

    On topic, I'm interested to hear how you get on, Richard. When I change my car in about 18 months time, an E46 M3 will be on my list of possible replacements.
     
  25. sidicks

    sidicks
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    My car was September 03 and I think was one of the first to have the new LED lights - I'm guessing that most 53 and onwards cars will be what you should be looking at !

    Sidicks
     
  26. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Common as muck. Get a B3 Alpina instead and be exclusive :D
     
  27. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    Nah, I like stirring the pot too much. Maybe I'll go for an auto box when I'm older :p
     
  28. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    Silly as it may seem, I got turned off an Alpina as one of the dads who drops his child off at the same saturday school as me drives one. So I can't just turn up in the same car!

    Plus I'd always had my eye on an M3. its on my list of cars to own at least once.
     
  29. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Leg pulling apart the Alpina box isn't a standard BMW autobox but a switchtronic with full manual control via steering wheel paddles if required.
     
  30. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    When I mentioned your Alpina to a car-loving friend, he was impressed. I need to try out one of these flappy paddle gearbox thingies some time. There is something nice and tactile about a normal gear-stick (especially the one in my Civic which is on the dash and has a short throw), which I think I might miss - but I won't know till I try...
     

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