Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

BMW F80 M3 v Model 3 Performance--From Someone that Owns Both

JST

Active Member
May 23, 2013
1,560
228
m3 v m3.jpg



I've put a few miles now on my new-to-me 2016 F80 BMW M3, including a 400 mile trip, and have had my Model 3 for nearly a year--so I thought I'd write down some thoughts.

The Cars:

2016 BMW M3 6M, M Adaptive suspension, 425 hp
2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance dual motor, 475ish hp (incl. 5 percent OTA boost at some point)

Exterior:

The BMW is an extrovert's car. I've thought of them as sort of extra, as my kid would say, particularly in the way the rear fenders flare over the back wheels, and in the front bumper that just barely escapes looking like catfish whiskers. But the look of the car has grown on me. The proportions on the M3 are nice, old-school BMW--long hood, relatively upright passenger cabin, L-shaped taillights. It works better than the E90, to my eyes, which I always thought seemed a bit narrow. The details on my car, including a blacked out grille, dark wheels, and a carbon fiber roof, are a nice contrast to the Sakhir Orange paint, which is a dramatic, fun color.

The Tesla is...well, from some angles it's pretty good, especially with 20 inch wheels. There are details you can appreciate, like the multiple curves and angles on the nose that seem far racier than a sedan has any right to have. But from other angles (esp. from the rear), it's just awkward. The proportions are nowhere near as good as the dead-sexy Model S. But it blends in better than the M3, especially because it doesn't make any noise (more on that in a minute).

Interior:

The Tesla gets a lot of *sugar* for it's spare, Spartan interior design, and for materials that some say are sub-par.

But it takes living with the car, and comparing it to something like the BMW, to really appreciate how goddamn good the Tesla is inside.

The lack of instruments in front of you is off-putting at first, but you quickly get used to the panoramic view out the front, which helps you not only in daily driving but also lets you place the car better when you start to drive fast. The center screen has its disadvantages, mostly in the lack of tactile feedback category, but the interface is so clean and intuitive that anyone can get in and make the car work immediately. The Tesla also has noticeably more space inside than the BMW, particularly for cargo--it has a bigger trunk AND a frunk AND a compartment below the trunk. Taking two kids and their gear to camp in the Tesla? Easy. Not so much in the BMW.

Notably, the things that people complain about (lack of air vents, lack of buttons, etc) are, for me at least, non-issues. The automatic climate on the Tesla is essentially set it and forget it. The steering wheel buttons control the audio functions I need them to and nothing else. The nav in the Tesla is easy to use because the large touch screen makes entering a destination simple. I do wish there were separate mirror controls, but beyond that? I really have no complaints.

Compared to the Tesla, the BMW feels like you're sitting in a hollowed-out WWII torpedo. The hood bulges up in front of you, forcing you to look around it, and the gauges and instrument panel dominate your field of view. There are buttons all over the place, but they operate in inscrutable ways that requires study to master. iDrive is better than its ever been, but it's still hard to learn, and 9 times out of 10 you'll just not bother using the nav rather than try to wrestle with destination entry. I should note that BMW actually has a nice app that works with the car, and entering nav info on that works well, but the whole setup is far kludgier than the one in the Tesla.

The seats in the BMW seem nicer at first. They're real leather, and firmer than the Tesla's, which are sort of hyperneoprene and squishy. But the BMW's seats are made for someone broader of beam than me, so I kind of rattle around in them, and after 400 miles my ass hurts in a way it doesn't driving the Tesla.

Does the BMW feel nicer inside? I guess--there are certainly more types of materials, and they're probably more expensive. But ultimately, the Tesla gets out of your way, while the BMW demands constant attention.


Driving.


Speaking of driving, what about that?

I'd like to sugarcoat this, but I can't. It's in the driving that the Tesla reveals itself to be the better car. And it's not a close thing. The BMW is near the apex of what an internal combustion engine performance car can be, but the Tesla exists in a different league, a vision of the future, a quantum leap. It's like comparing a P-51 to an Me 262.

Around town, you expect this to be true. With no clutch and instant torque, the Tesla is faster than the BMW everywhere, all the time. It's always ready to go, to jump in front of someone at a light, to nail a gap in traffic, whatever you need. It's "throttle" response is otherworldly, but it also has traction to spare--it digs and GOES, right now, no wheelspin, nothing to worry about.

The BMW requires thought, deliberation--point it straight ahead, and lay on the throttle, and it will go fast, as soon you slip the clutch just right and let the revs build a little and the turbos spool and manage the shift points. Get any of that wrong and even the Kia Forte in the next lane will beat you to 20 or 30 mph, forget about the Tesla.

And the Tesla will do it silently. The BMW's active muffler sounds like its got holes bored through it in sport and sport+. It's a pretty OK sound, though not great, but what it lacks in sonorous character it makes up for in volume. When you go fast in the BMW, people know it. Pedestrians, your passengers, people a few blocks over, everyone. When you go fast in the Tesla, people don't even notice, although your passengers might wonder why they suddenly have whiplash.

OK, so around town the Tesla is the winner. Sure. That makes sense.

But living with the two cars what surprised me is how much better the Tesla is for long-distance travel. The BMW is geared crazy-short. At highway speeds, it's turning 3000 RPM. Great because the turbos are on boost, but terrible for relaxing. The suspension is a bit jittery and overall the car just feels like work to drive at high speeds. Given its size and weight, it's a little surprising just how much of a GT the BMW isn't.

The Tesla, OTOH, doesn't vibrate. It doesn't roar, or boom. It just goes. There's tire and wind noise, of course, but not too much of either, and mostly there's just calm.

It's really remarkable how tired I was today after 400 miles in the BMW; way more than I would have been in the Tesla.

And I will say this, too--people bitch about EV charging, but after you get used to using the Tesla network, going back to getting gas feels like a huge step backward.

Isn't it faster to get gas, you ask? Well, sure--but you have to make two stops if you also need food, which I do on a 200 or 400 mile drive. First you stop for gas, and you stand there while it pumps, and then you drive off to find a place to eat. With the Tesla, you stop, plug in, go get your food, come back, unplug, and you're on your way. It's legitimately better.

Of course, if you're driving more than 400 miles or so, and have to do multiple charging stops, the Tesla might start to feel constraining. But on a 6 hour trip like I did today, it wouldn't have, at all.

And that doesn't even get into the whole buying gas for daily driving thing, which is something you don't realize you hate until you don't have to do it.

The Tesla’s phone key thing is great, as long as it works, which for me it does, but for others in my house it doesn’t reliably, and that’s the source of immense frustration. Why can’t this car just have a normal key?

For the BMW, it has the world’s most sensitive passenger detection weight sensor in the passenger seat—seriously, it’s triggered by things like a sandwich or your phone + glasses case. This would probably also drive you nuts if you regularly carried a bag; you’d have to put it on the floor.

Neither car has much steering feel. The BMW’s wheel is too big, and the Tesla’s is too small. I’d say the Tesla’s steering is better if only because it’s sharper, but driving the Porsche after either is a revelation.

Verdict

I like the BMW. I really do. It's fun to shift your own gears, and you won't find a better manual transmission sedan of recent vintage than this one. And the BMW has sounds and feelings that give their own satisfaction. I'd hate to lose cars like this forever.

But if the question is "which is the better car," the answer isn't hard. It's not remotely close. The Tesla performs all of the functions you're looking for in a performance car better than the BMW, by a lot. Plus it's more practical and easier to live with.

If you could have only one, my recommendation would be: Buy American.
 

JST

Active Member
May 23, 2013
1,560
228
2 things:
1) Getting gas in my other car makes me sad & wastes my time
2) Why can’t this car just have a normal key? - isn't that called the key card?


The key card is suboptimal because when the car asks for it, you have to dig it out of your wallet (or wallet and purse, if you carry one), tap it against the door, and then tap it again against the center console. It's harder to use in that sense than even a traditional metal key, because it requires the extra step of getting it out of your wallet. And when you're trying to wrangle kids and packages into the car, it's just a pain.

For me, the phone works essentially flawlessly. For my wife? It's like 50/50. It got annoying enough that I actually bought two of the optional key fobs, but *they* don't even work all the time.

It's a frustration that seems entirely unnecessary, given that every other car (including the Model S) works flawlessly with a fob.
 
  • Like
Reactions: neezer

TMThree

Active Member
Mar 28, 2019
1,118
1,615
USA
> Why can’t this car just have a normal key?

I found that sometimes my phone app wouldn't work and i'd have to disable and reenable bluetooth to get it working again. Later I found out that android was doing a smart optimization by putting the tesla app to sleep to save battery. It saw a long running app that I wasn't using, makes sense.

I disabled the option, allow the tesla app to always run, and no issues since.
 

hocr

Member
Aug 12, 2019
282
109
California
OP. Thanks for the write up. Agree on most of your points! I do think the interior feels nicer materials wise but looks so retro after sitting in a Tesla. Also I found it comfortable as a touring car with a lot of adjustability in the seats. I will miss the heated steering wheel though haha. The exhaust quiets down considerably at highway speeds while pleasant at low speeds. Everyday driving Tesla should be better in all aspects except for brake feel. Regen braking is easy to get used to and efficient I felt. Suspension on the BMW felt a bit tighter but will need to actually take delivery of mine to compare spirited/track driving.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Positvt

destructure00

Active Member
Mar 2, 2019
1,473
1,625
Scottsdale, AZ
I came from a 2016 BMW 340i M-Sport, with track handling goodies and a manual transmission. Before I committed to ordering my P3D I rented one on Turo for a weekend. Getting back in my BMW afterwards felt like I jumped backwards 10 years...I loved the BMW until that moment, then I couldn't wait to replace it. Your write up above is spot on with my experience as well, albeit compared to a lesser car than the M3.
 

jkcheng122

Member
Oct 15, 2018
176
147
Houston
Great read, though I can't quite get over how "it's" is used incorrectly in an otherwise grammar error free read. The on-demand performance really distinguishes Teslas from ICE, performance or otherwise. I think it's also an aspect that is hard to realize just riding in a Tesla vs driving one.

There was a post on Reddit of someone asking if having a Tesla changed how we drive. I responded, "It didn't. It just allowed me to drive how I've always wanted to drive, but didn't have a car that could match until I got my 3."

Side Note: I'm really surprised how much bigger the 3 looks in the above picture compared to the M3.
 

JST

Active Member
May 23, 2013
1,560
228
Great read, though I can't quite get over how "it's" is used incorrectly in an otherwise grammar error free read. The on-demand performance really distinguishes Teslas from ICE, performance or otherwise. I think it's also an aspect that is hard to realize just riding in a Tesla vs driving one.

There was a post on Reddit of someone asking if having a Tesla changed how we drive. I responded, "It didn't. It just allowed me to drive how I've always wanted to drive, but didn't have a car that could match until I got my 3."

Side Note: I'm really surprised how much bigger the 3 looks in the above picture compared to the M3.

Ha ha, whoops. Sorry about the grammar error!
 

postersw

Member
Jun 25, 2019
67
43
Edgewood, WA, USA
I got rid of my 2007 BMW 328i to make room for a Tesla model 3 LR AWD. Of course the Tesla M3 acceleration is amazing, even compared to the BMW 328. The handling of the two cars I thought was pretty similar, with a bit less body roll in the Tesla. But it doesn't take long to realize that the Tesla is WAY WAY WAY NOISIER than the BMW, with a tremendous amount of road/tire noise on concrete at freeway speeds. The BMW (with Michelin Pilot Sports) was serene, even on noisy pavement at 75 mph. But on the same pavement, the Tesla constantly makes me feel like I'm driving a noisy Mazda 3. The Tesla ride is also busier and harsher than the BMW (partly because the recommended tire pressure is 10 psi higher on the Tesla than on the BMW). Note that I'm comparing against the BMW 328i - the BMW M3 has a sport suspension that is probably closer to the Tesla suspension.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jase1125

focher

Active Member
Oct 15, 2013
1,039
1,505
Bay Area
In regards to cabin noise, has anyone seen an objective comparison with a decibel reader? I’m always suspicious because it’s unclear if engine noise is drowning out things the Tesla can’t.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Guy V

67King

Member
Feb 2, 2018
309
192
Knoxville, TN
The key card is suboptimal because when the car asks for it, you have to dig it out of your wallet (or wallet and purse, if you carry one), tap it against the door, and then tap it again against the center console. It's harder to use in that sense than even a traditional metal key, because it requires the extra step of getting it out of your wallet.

Actually, you can just pull your wallet out and put the wallet against the car. You don't need to remove the card from your wallet, so there is no extra step compared to a normal fob. Given that the card is a backup to the phone for when you let your battery die, the form factor of the card is infinitely superior to any conventional key fob.
 

N54TT

Member
Aug 14, 2018
933
717
NY
In regards to cabin noise, has anyone seen an objective comparison with a decibel reader? I’m always suspicious because it’s unclear if engine noise is drowning out things the Tesla can’t.

I took crude decibel readings comparing my p3d+ with staggered ps4s and it was relatively the same as my wife’s Lexus nx, on same highway and same speed.
 

postersw

Member
Jun 25, 2019
67
43
Edgewood, WA, USA
My cabin noise test is simple: When the car is at rest, I set the audio volume to something comfortable. Then I start driving. With the BMW I never had to turn the audio volume up for freeway driving. With the Tesla I always have to turn it up on freeway driving.
 
  • Disagree
Reactions: DelPhonic1

WilliamG

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
3,194
3,710
Seattle, WA
My cabin noise test is simple: When the car is at rest, I set the audio volume to something comfortable. Then I start driving. With the BMW I never had to turn the audio volume up for freeway driving. With the Tesla I always have to turn it up on freeway driving.

But that makes perfect sense. When the car is at rest the Tesla is silent so your volume of music will be lower, thus necessitating the increase in volume on the highway.
 

mcbarnet007

Member
Oct 10, 2016
798
576
San Jose, CA
OP. Thanks for the write up. Agree on most of your points! I do think the interior feels nicer materials wise but looks so retro after sitting in a Tesla. Also I found it comfortable as a touring car with a lot of adjustability in the seats. I will miss the heated steering wheel though haha. The exhaust quiets down considerably at highway speeds while pleasant at low speeds. Everyday driving Tesla should be better in all aspects except for brake feel. Regen braking is easy to get used to and efficient I felt. Suspension on the BMW felt a bit tighter but will need to actually take delivery of mine to compare spirited/track driving.

stock P3D sits too high and damper is too soft for track. You also need to upgrade your brake pad, brake fluid and remove the rotor heatshield to have sufficient brake on the track. Otherwise you'll be disappointed. Canyon carving won't be an issue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: neezer and jgrgnt

JST

Active Member
May 23, 2013
1,560
228
Actually, you can just pull your wallet out and put the wallet against the car. You don't need to remove the card from your wallet, so there is no extra step compared to a normal fob. Given that the card is a backup to the phone for when you let your battery die, the form factor of the card is infinitely superior to any conventional key fob.

You might be able to do this. My wife cannot, because her wallet isn't small enough to do what you're suggesting. I suppose she could buy a different wallet? But then she'd have to alter some other part of her lifestyle to accommodate the car.

Her point is that she literally never has never had to think about the key fob in our other cars. With the Tesla, her phone sometimes doesn't work, and the result is a frantic dig through her bag to find the key card and pull it out of her wallet.

Her other point, which I take, is that there are things about the Tesla that really seem designed by tech guys, for tech guys, without any consideration of how other people might (or might not) like them. A phone key with a wallet based backup is fine if your paradigm is "my wallet is always in my pocket and is easy to take out and slap against the car." If your paradigm is "my wallet is zippered up inside my handbag," it makes less sense. Similarly, controls for the side mirrors buried in submenus on the main touch screen make sense if you set the mirrors once and then don't touch them. If you wear heels sometimes and flats other times, and adjust the seat slightly accordingly, it's a bigger pain in the ass. Could you set different profiles for each preferred setting? I guess. Is that easier than just having a mirror switch? No.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DelPhonic1

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top