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18" Aero vs 20" Performance: Ride Quality, comfort, noise etc

Are the 18" Aeros noticeably more comfortable than 20" Performance wheels?

  • Yes

    Votes: 18 62.1%
  • No

    Votes: 11 37.9%

  • Total voters
    29
Hello all, I've been set on purchasing a M3P (mainly for the better looking wheels and that 3.1s 0-6 time!) but the more YouTube reviews I watch, the more it seems that the 20" rims plus lowered ride height really impact comfort, especially on our battered UK roads.

I test drove the M3P and was surprised at how comfortable it was - it was firm for sure, but felt more comfortable than my S-Line Audi (although that only has 17"s...)

So, for anyone with extended experience driving both the Dual Motor with 18" Aeros, and the Performance with 20" wheels, is there a noticeable difference in the ride quality? (Noticeable to the point where you would actively recommend the 18's over the 20's?)

Thanks!
 

KennethS

Member
Supporting Member
May 3, 2019
855
685
Herts, UK
This may be an unfair comparison, but I have the M3P and in late November I swapped the 20” wheels and tyres for a set of 18” wheels with winter tyres (Pirelli Sottozero 3s). To my surprise, the ride seems possibly stiffer/less compliant on the 18” winter setup. That said, I have been pleased with the comfort level of the stock 20” setup, which is far more comfortable than I had expected when ordering the car (I did not test drive one pre-purchase).
 
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We have a M3P and ran it from August until the start of November on the 20s. Quite "bumpy" if you're not on a smooth surface we found, although this was coming from a VW CC. In November we switched to after market 18s with Michelin CrossClimate+ and the ride is definitely more comfortable when the roads are a bit [email protected] Most of them in the UK! Also much better when you hit the potholes. We plan to keep them on until summer (and for a long trip through Europe) but will then switch back to the 20s for a couple of months.

The 18s don't look as good but they still handle well and win by miles for practicality
 
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I haven’t driven the model 3 on the standard suspension and 18” wheels, but the ride on the 20’s (the ‘big’ option) is leagues ahead of my Audi S3 on 18’s (the smaller wheel option for that car.. The Audi also had mag-ride (magneto rheological variable damping) to give a bit of extra comfort, but it’s still not even close the Model 3.

Ride comfort then, is not a problem. The real problem is the psychological one. The sphincter twitching anxiety induced when every pothole, rut, tall curb, and speed hump makes you inwardly cringe as you imagine a two tonne car on fragile rims wearing expensive hard to find tyres spread thinner than the butter on a Ryanair in-flight sandwich, smashing down into potholes or over bumps, in the full knowledge that you don’t even have a spare tyre, or the means to lift the car up even if you did have one...
 
My service center was kind enough to arrange a test drive of a model 3 performance on 20" wheels back to back with an AWD on 18's. Getting out of one and driving the other on the same 10km loop was very different. As expected the performance model is much firmer and harsher on poor surfaces. I was lucky enough (after 4 months of calling around) to get a stealth performance with performance acceleration and track mode, but on 18" wheels with softer suspension, that suits me better.
 
I'm interested in this too but will be going for the Performance model anyway. I'm moving from a BMW M4 on 20" so as long as it's no worse, I'll be happy enough.

Incidentally, I've not been able to get a test drive from my local Stockport branch. Apparently they are too busy with large fleet managers to be bothered with a private sale. I blame the 0% BIK! :)
 
Has anyone tried putting smaller diameter wheels on their M3? I'm thinking of trying some 17" or even 16" (should they fit with regards to the brakes). Mainly for ride comfort but also cost and selection of available tyres. It should also improve efficiency to a small degree, although the difference with the 18" + Aero covers might be negligible.

Are there any other reasons why one should stick to 18" or higher I'm not aware of? I realise that the onboard computer tyre options are only 18"-20" so that could have an impact.
 

Rooster6655

Active Member
May 3, 2019
1,965
787
UK
Incidentally, I've not been able to get a test drive from my local Stockport branch. Apparently they are too busy with large fleet managers to be bothered with a private sale. I blame the 0% BIK! :)

Best idea is to turn up and try your luck, their phone/internet system is useless for people with problems with cars never mind new customers
 
  • Informative
Reactions: Gatsojon
Only 12 people have voted so far, but I wonder how many have driven on both the sets of wheels. I think there could be a lot of confirmation bias on both sides (per usual on this forum).

I have the M3P with 20” wheels and find they do well in South East and West London; however, other cities have much worse road surfaces that can be annoying to drive on.

I don’t worry about potholes as I decided not to drive over any - so far, so good. I recommend that you do the same. The head-in-sand policy works well with a lot of Tesla issues.
 
The real problem is the psychological one. The sphincter twitching anxiety induced when every pothole, rut, tall curb, and speed hump makes you inwardly cringe as you imagine a two tonne car on fragile rims wearing expensive hard to find tyres spread thinner than the butter on a Ryanair in-flight sandwich, smashing down into potholes or over bumps, in the full knowledge that you don’t even have a spare tyre, or the means to lift the car up even if you did have one...

This happened this morning. This is why I am here, reading this. Hit a pothole, puckered up so tight, I could poop linguini. No obvious damage.. but the thunk, then the fear.. I love the look of the Grey 20's. but am not enjoying the extra anxiety such a low profile causes.

It doesnt help that Google suggested I watch this vid the other day
Although it does offer a solution.
 
18” wheels have more rubber to absorb potholes bumps than 20” so it is not that difficult to realise 18” will be more comfortable. Not sure noise would be any different. I have driven both, and 18” (which I have on the P-) is more comfortable. However 20” is typically on the P+ which may also have stiffer (and lowered) suspension, so that will add to the “discomfort” in comparative terms.
 

geneclean55

Active Member
Feb 17, 2016
2,078
5,572
DC, DC
I'm interested in this too but will be going for the Performance model anyway. I'm moving from a BMW M4 on 20" so as long as it's no worse, I'll be happy enough.

Incidentally, I've not been able to get a test drive from my local Stockport branch. Apparently they are too busy with large fleet managers to be bothered with a private sale. I blame the 0% BIK! :)

That is a bit mean! Was that really their explanation?
 
This happened this morning. This is why I am here, reading this. Hit a pothole, puckered up so tight, I could poop linguini. No obvious damage.. but the thunk, then the fear.. I love the look of the Grey 20's. but am not enjoying the extra anxiety such a low profile causes.

It doesnt help that Google suggested I watch this vid the other day
Although it does offer a solution.
Great video!
 
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