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      10-12-2010, 11:35 PM   #1
spotshooter
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New 135i or E46 M3?

Hi, long time lurker here. I am nearing the end of my current lease (08 R32) and the 135i is on my short list. I've test driven several in the last year, and it is a great car. I'm new to BMW, so i've been doing some research and the E46 M3 has sparked my interest. There are several low mile M3s for sale in my town and I have been tempted to go for a test drive.

Can anyone share their experience with both cars? What am I gaining with the older M3 vs a new 135i?

Advice welcome.....
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      10-12-2010, 11:49 PM   #2
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I just went through that decision myself. I ended up ordering a new 135i and here's why:

I couldn't find a nice low mile e46 M3 coupe with manual tranny for sale in my area that was well taken care of. I then started looking at the 335i, and my attention moved to the 135i for a few reasons. The 135i priced out to be $10,000 cheaper than the 335i with the same options (a lot of the 335i stuff is optional that comes with the 135i). The 135i is a lighter than both the e46 M3 and the 335i. This meant faster acceleration and a more nimble feel.

I also considered the costly oil changes/maintenance that come with an e46 M3 and any potential problems that would be costly because of the vehicle model and the fact that it is used and out of warranty. Getting a new 135i meant full maintenance warranty for 40,000/5 years. No need to worry about how the used M3 was taken care of and any potential problems. Yes, I spent more on a new car, but I have the assurance of a very comprehensive warranty and a fresh new vehicle that only I have driven.

I'm having my car built as I type in Germany with the exact specifications I want: color combo, options, etc. Also, mods produce more gains (depending on your choices) for the money with the turbo vehicle.

Both are great cars though. The choice ultimately comes down to you. Good luck!
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      10-13-2010, 12:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kcyrusm View Post
I just went through that decision myself. I ended up ordering a new 135i and here's why:

I couldn't find a nice low mile e46 M3 coupe with manual tranny for sale in my area that was well taken care of. I then started looking at the 335i, and my attention moved to the 135i for a few reasons. The 135i priced out to be $10,000 cheaper than the 335i with the same options (a lot of the 335i stuff is optional that comes with the 135i). The 135i is a lighter than both the e46 M3 and the 335i. This meant faster acceleration and a more nimble feel.

I also considered the costly oil changes/maintenance that come with an e46 M3 and any potential problems that would be costly because of the vehicle model and the fact that it is used and out of warranty. Getting a new 135i meant full maintenance warranty for 40,000/5 years. No need to worry about how the used M3 was taken care of and any potential problems. Yes, I spent more on a new car, but I have the assurance of a very comprehensive warranty and a fresh new vehicle that only I have driven.

I'm having my car built as I type in Germany with the exact specifications I want: color combo, options, etc. Also, mods produce more gains (depending on your choices) for the money with the turbo vehicle.

Both are great cars though. The choice ultimately comes down to you. Good luck!
Great Advice 1UP!
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      10-13-2010, 12:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spotshooter View Post
Hi, long time lurker here. I am nearing the end of my current lease (08 R32) and the 135i is on my short list. I've test driven several in the last year, and it is a great car. I'm new to BMW, so i've been doing some research and the E46 M3 has sparked my interest. There are several low mile M3s for sale in my town and I have been tempted to go for a test drive.

Can anyone share their experience with both cars? What am I gaining with the older M3 vs a new 135i?

Advice welcome.....
I don't think you're gaining anything with the E46, in fact it's quite the opposite.

I've tracked my basically stock 135i a number of time, and it's faster than an equally stock E46 M3 on track. Add that to the fact you get to spec out the car as you want, get a warranty and know the history from day 1, and it tilts it even more to the 135i.

The other thing to remember is that the E46 has been around awhile, and low-mileage cars will be hard to find. Plus a high number of cars will have been beat on during their lifetimes, raising even more questions.

A friend of mine has an E46 M3 SMG that he tracks regularly. One of the serpentine belt pulleys seized at 90K miles, causing about $1K in repairs, which is becoming more and more common.

That said, the E46 M3 is a great car, and you would be very happy with it. The one thing that might be in the E46's favor is I think there is a larger availability of aftermarket parts if that's something you would want to do. There is more and more for the 1er, but the E46 has been out much longer, and there are more on the road, which just leads to more availability.
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      10-13-2010, 03:42 AM   #5
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e46 m3 vs. 135i

I've had a E46 M3 and just recently (2000 miles) got my new 2011 135i. To me, there's nothing like the feeling of a brand new car. obvious reasons (warranty, smell, and knowing you've been the only person messing with it)

The 135i is a little monster-faster than the M3 and the way the turbo spools n pulls is intoxicating. I'd say go with the 135i...However, IF you don't mind the extra maintenance of the M3 and can find a good clean one with low miles and want a car that you will take to the track I'd say go with the M3. I wish I could have kept the m3 and the 135...but if I had to choose I'd go with my 135; it's just so easy to drive fast. With 300ft/lbs torque available at 1200rpm downshifting to pass cars is unnecessary in daily driving...just barely press the gas pedal and the 135 swooshes forward effortlessly. You have to work a little harder to make the m3 go fast (rev higher) which is fun...but the m3 baits you into driving fast the car wants to rev high...while the 135 can feel as smooth as a 5 series (slight exaggeration)...

In my opinion, the M3 definitely had a better connection with the road. The way the M3 felt going in and out of turns gave me more confidence and feel for the cars limits. In the 135 I don't feel the same feedback between the steering and the road. Im not talking about track performance, Im just talking about simple stuff like accelerating on a banked turn of an onramp or on some twisty stretches of road. I just feel that the M3 gives you more confidence in pushing the limits while at limits of the 135 there is less feel and connection between you and the road..Not to say that the 135 doesn't handle well or drive amazing, because it definitely does...In other words you can feel the technology controlling a bit of the 135s suspension while the m3 felt more raw..

M3 is a gas guzzler too...I only averaged around 16mpg while in the 135 Im around 23mpg.

Writing this is making me miss my M3 so maybe that says something too...135 is more practical, more powerful though...and there's barely any of them out there...I see a lot of 128 and 135 converts but hardly ever see a 135 coupe...


check out this vid I found on youtube, might help your decision..Either way you won't make a bad decision!


Last edited by naveed135; 10-13-2010 at 03:59 AM. Reason: forgot something
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      10-13-2010, 06:26 AM   #6
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I briefly considered the same choice of E46 M3 vs 135i. I ended up with the 135i for a lot of the same reasons as others have stated.

For me, it was the fact that the 135i gave me free maintenance and a warranty where the M3 had neither. I also found that most of the M3's in my area were SMG cars and having just come from an 08 GTI w/ DSG I really wanted a 6MT.

I also drive a lot of miles every week so having the better gas mileage offered by the 135i is worth something.

I don't think you can go wrong with any BMW, especially between a 135i and an M3.
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      10-13-2010, 07:02 AM   #7
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I just moved from an '08 R32 myself. I have an '11 135i with DCT. The dynamics of the cars could not be more different. While driving the R, I was chasing power by adding chip/intake/exhaust and improving the dynamics by adding lighter wheel/tire combo/RSB/H&R sport springs. In the process, I shot about 5K down the drain and ended up with a car that was not significantly faster or handled that much better than when I started.

Fast forward to the BMW: more power/handling is superb in any driving situation that I have encountered. When the situation presents itself, it's fun to put the transmission in sport mode, press the sport button, stomp the go pedal and hang on!!! I have not have the opportunity to track my car yet, but look forward to it next summer. I have a feeling that it wont be as much of a disappointment as the R was at Auto X or other HPDE events. When I get bored with the car, many performance enhancing options are going to become available for the N55 engine.

I agree with the above poster speaking of difficulty of finding low miles/good shape E46 M3s. Not saying they are not available, but work to reward ratio may be too high for some to start that task.
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      10-13-2010, 09:22 PM   #8
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Currently in a 135 because a 2 pedal car was a must and the SMG is not worth it to me, not smooth, expensive, the s54 works better with the manual

I have had 2 e46 m3s (1 coupe 1 vert) and an s54 z3 as well. I love that motor....

1. Exterior - eye of the beholder for sure, the e46 a bit dated, but aggressive looking to me, very good stance, the 1 is much more rare though...you decide on that one...

2. Interior - i prefer the look and feel of the e46 myself inside. The older nav i wouldn't bother with but otherwise a little bit roomier and i prefered the materials a bit. Also M3 seats are super soft nappa leather which is infinitely nicer than the boston in our cars, but also wears a lot more; so a higher milage car will usually show a lot of wear.

3. straight line - stock v stock, totally different experience, same power though. Both are in the 270 whp range. The M3 might have a slight edge, but that's slight. However you need to know how to drive it to get the power out of it. also step or 6 spd same speed in the 135

3.a. now add a jb3 or procede and it's a big 135 advantage

4. curves/handling - the m3 rolls much less and to me feels much more crisp. The steering in the 135 while heavy isn't that precise, not like the m3. Plus the run flats at least mine the bridgestone weren't that good, supposedly the newer ones are better. Ride in the 135 i'd characterize as floaty, esp for a 'sports coupe'

5. braking - very similar, touchier on the 135 but power was same

6. overall feel
135 is not an 'edgy' car to me. It's very subdued, and a great car to live with because the power is there if you need it, but when you don't its a kitten to drive. the highway ride is very nice, handling pretty good, a little floaty but not bad. when you get on it, the power is great - though weird for a bmw - to me i think GM LS v8 power. Huge mid section falls off up top...
M3 is a car on edge - always ready to go wild. From the slightly erratic idle to the lurching through the gears as you wind it up, it's not a car you sit back in and ride along for the daily commute, always felt like you needed to drive it...ie even when you wanted to just get from A to B the car couldn't be your camry and just get you there...

7. about the aforementioned fuel economy...i get essentially the same mpg in my daily commuting and the m3 at least had a decent gas tank....seeems like i'm always at the gas station with the 135 - 12.5 gallons at a time.

Moral of my story, stock v stock performance is similar with handling edge to m3 with better suspension, steering and the LSD. So you can see for me i've added the tune to trump it's power, the suspension and non run flats have greatly helped handling and the steering feel is better but still not quite as good.

Honestly i've got the itch for an 'edgy' car again and I'm back in the market for a z4m or cayman s as a second car. I love the 135 as a daily but to me it lacks some personality - granted it's nothing like my 5 series or even as subdued as say my brothers 335; but it doesn't have the soul of the m3 either...

Joe
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      10-14-2010, 12:04 AM   #9
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I had a e46 M3 b4 and now I owe a 135i. If you are not planning to go on track, 135i

would be a better choice. Is more comfy and more torque. Handling wise if you leave the

DTC on most of time when you drive like I do, both cars understeer quite a bit. Push to

the limit with DTC off, the M3 would really out perform the 135i in fun factor score!
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      10-14-2010, 04:51 AM   #10
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I have both and they are different beasts on their own. The M3 is a high performance car that you can drive on the road on a daily basis. The 135i is just a pocket rocket that will continue to impress you with the massive amounts of torque on demand.
As far as handling, the 135i can't compete with the M3. Every time that I drive on the back roads with the 135i I wish I was driving the M3. High speed handling is the same. You can drive the M3 at triple-digit speeds all day with no worries. The 135i becomes unstable at anything above 90 mph.
When it comes to brakes, again, the M3 has the edge (I do have European rotors and more aggressive pads on the M3). I've experienced several scary moments in the 135i during braking because I expected same or better performance than the M3.

I'm extremely LUCKY to have both in my garage and truly enjoy both of them.

The bottom line is to go and try to land a good extended test drive on both cars and you will notice the difference right away. They are both GREAT and vastly superior than most vehicles on the road today!

Good luck with your search!! You will not go wrong with either one!

PS - I used to be VW nut until I bought my first BMW...
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      10-14-2010, 06:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kcyrusm View Post
I just went through that decision myself. I ended up ordering a new 135i and here's why:

I couldn't find a nice low mile e46 M3 coupe with manual tranny for sale in my area that was well taken care of. I then started looking at the 335i, and my attention moved to the 135i for a few reasons. The 135i priced out to be $10,000 cheaper than the 335i with the same options (a lot of the 335i stuff is optional that comes with the 135i). The 135i is a lighter than both the e46 M3 and the 335i. This meant faster acceleration and a more nimble feel.

I also considered the costly oil changes/maintenance that come with an e46 M3 and any potential problems that would be costly because of the vehicle model and the fact that it is used and out of warranty. Getting a new 135i meant full maintenance warranty for 40,000/5 years. No need to worry about how the used M3 was taken care of and any potential problems. Yes, I spent more on a new car, but I have the assurance of a very comprehensive warranty and a fresh new vehicle that only I have driven.

I'm having my car built as I type in Germany with the exact specifications I want: color combo, options, etc. Also, mods produce more gains (depending on your choices) for the money with the turbo vehicle.

Both are great cars though. The choice ultimately comes down to you. Good luck!
+1 (good writeup)

Had an E46 M3 and considered getting another, and besides the fact that the
M3 seats >>>> 135i seats, the 135i is every bit of the M3 and it sounds better.

have you seen the edmunds comparison?


it's a good video, but the final choice doesn't take into account cost for out of warranty repairs and scheduled maintenance and lack of BMWFS financing specials on an M3.
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      10-14-2010, 07:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2drv View Post
I have both and they are different beasts...
As far as handling, the 135i can't compete with the M3. Every time that I drive on the back roads with the 135i I wish I was driving the M3. High speed handling is the same. You can drive the M3 at triple-digit speeds all day with no worries. The 135i becomes unstable at anything above 90 mph.
When it comes to brakes, again, the M3 has the edge (I do have European rotors and more aggressive pads on the M3). I've experienced several scary moments in the 135i during braking because I expected same or better performance than the M3.

I'm extremely LUCKY to have both in my garage and truly enjoy both of them.

The bottom line is to go and try to land a good extended test drive on both cars and you will notice the difference right away. They are both GREAT and vastly superior than most vehicles on the road today!

Good luck with your search!! You will not go wrong with either one!

PS - I used to be VW nut until I bought my first BMW...
I agree about the high speed stability. The 1 needs a better suspension fir that

I also assume you have the run flats on your 1 which may be contributing to your braking issues. I noticed a nice improvement in at the limit braking since the addition of some real tires. I haven't tracked car yet so can't comment on abusing them and fade but I haven't seen the scariness since I swapped tires
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      10-15-2010, 11:26 AM   #13
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I previously owned a 04 E46 M3 and I just bought a 09 135i. My 135 is to be delivered on Monday so once I receive it I will be able to give better feedback. I also thought about buying another M3 but like stated above by others I wanted the new car smell, feel, etc. Maintenance will be covered and I know that it hasn't been beat on by others.
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      10-15-2010, 11:35 AM   #14
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E46 M3, I owned 2, fabulous car. I'm not interested in any BMW turbos right now due to their excessive problems. Next car is an E92 M3
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