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

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,195
5,213
FL
Not to thread jack, but I too have an F80 M3, but it's a Competiton model in individual Laguna Seca blue, in addition to an E46 M3 convertible, and also a TM3 Stealh. They are definitely different cars for different purposes. The Stealth outperforms my F80 Comp except in handling and braking. I would never take the Stealth to a track but the F80 was born on the Nurburgring and was designed as a trackable street car. The cooling system is excellent and the rated 444whp is a worst case scenario. In cooler weather it can put down 475whp. It does not heat soak either. I've driven it on the Nurburgring and it's more capable than my skillset, bone stock. With the DCT it is smooth like an automatic yet can power shift faster than any human. It is still about 90% as fun as driving a stick except you can't mess up. Sorry, I'm no Mario Andreti and can't afford to mishift and blow my engine haha.

The E46 M3 is my weekend top down car. It's very fun to drive for short bursts. I say short bursts bc the stiff suspension and direct feedback of the engine and steering just wears you out. It's been fully restored with some added modern features like BT streaming integration into the factory system, JL sub, and stage 1 BSW speakers to make it more enjoyable. But it's far from sounding anywhere as good as the Tesla's system. I prefer to only drive it with it's top down, or else I'd just drive my F80. It's an SMG car but it's still just as fun. The SMG is plenty fast but can be a little clunky, which makes it feel more like a human shifting than the DCT. Either way, I love the scream of the S54 when ripping it towards it's 8k redline. It's the last inline 6 race derived engine BMW built and is now a modern classic. I can't part with it despite only driving it maybe 2k miles a year, if that. Don't even get me started on the maintenance required...even the oil is called "Liquid gold" at $15 a liter (6.5L needed) bc it's race oil developed specifically for BMW's M engines from 2001-2010 (S54, S62, S65, S85).

The Stealth is a more comfortable everyday car and fwy cruiser. We use it for almost everything. It has replaced my F80 as the long trip family car. To the OPs point, the F80 requires you to be focused if you want to drive it fast. And by fast, I mean very fast bc it was built for the Autobahn. So yes, by the end of a long journey, I am definitely mentally tired. I made the same 240 mile trip in both cars and despite being hung over tired, the AP did a lot of the mentally taxing hwy cruising and traffic jam driving. This alone was one of the biggest selling points for us in getting the Stealth as a 3rd car. If I had to commute to work (which I don't), then most likely I would have sold one of the M3s and gotten another Model 3 for myself.

The F80 now only is driven for pleasure bc it's so visceral. I have replaced the exhaust with one from the CS and it sounds superb without being obnoxious. If I need to run an errand, most likely it is in the Stealth. It's just the opposite of driving my BMWs. Mostly uninvolved and relaxing. No exhaust rumble or overly stiff suspension either. Just a buttery smooth car. If I want to go for a fun drive, well, it just depends on if I want FI grumbling torquey power or normally aspirated screaming redline pulls.

My girls think my F80 is slow now bc they know what 0-60 in 2.9 feels like. They actually hate it bc of the head slap it causes and dizziness that ensues afterwards when I for it without warning them. This was never an issue in the F80 haha.

The other good part about the Tesla is the sound system is more enjoyable bc it's not fighting the exhaust and engine sounds. Never having to visit a gas station to fill up even when I drive it all out like a madman is an awesome feeling, and it doesn't cost me $60 either haha. And there's virtually no maintenance except for tires and maybe brakes in like 100k miles? Man, lots of practical wins here.

Overall, the F80 is the peak of BMW engineering for ICE (until the G80 M3 comes out, but that car could be hideous based on leaked photos). I'm keeping mine forever since it's still super fun to drive, looks aggressive and classy at the same time, and has a ton of sentimental value (we drove it all over Europe during our Euro delivery). But the future is EVs and we are enjoying that future very much in the Model 3.

Nice comments and write up. I'd be really interested to see what your reaction is to a properly modded model 3 Performance. Aftermarket rotors, track pads, coilovers, re71 or cup Sport 2, the whole nine yards. I've gone part of the way there with the coilovers and I'm running a slightly staggered setup. Will shortly have Pilot Sport 4S 265 / 30 fronts and 275 / 30 Rears. Have the MPP coilover set pretty stiff for the street, but the ride is still pretty comfortable and the transient response is really impressive. If you ever in Florida look me up I'd be happy to let you take the car for a spin. One of the most amazing things about the car is that you can hot rod it and still get 75 - 90 mpge. Can't get too close to that with an internal combustion engine Sports sedan unless you put a sail on it and throw it off a cliff! Hah!:D:D
 

M3FNATIK

Recovering BMW Addict
Nov 9, 2019
256
163
SoCal
Nice comments and write up. I'd be really interested to see what your reaction is to a properly modded model 3 Performance. Aftermarket rotors, track pads, coilovers, re71 or cup Sport 2, the whole nine yards. I've gone part of the way there with the coilovers and I'm running a slightly staggered setup. Will shortly have Pilot Sport 4S 265 / 30 fronts and 275 / 30 Rears. Have the MPP coilover set pretty stiff for the street, but the ride is still pretty comfortable and the transient response is really impressive. If you ever in Florida look me up I'd be happy to let you take the car for a spin. One of the most amazing things about the car is that you can hot rod it and still get 75 - 90 mpge. Can't get too close to that with an internal combustion engine Sports sedan unless you put a sail on it and throw it off a cliff! Hah!:D:D

Thanks for the offer! Too bad I am on the west coast or else we could swap cars for a bit! It's always fun to connect with other enthusiasts and experience different vehicles' performance.

If I wasn't so attached to my F80, I know for a fact that I would have gotten an M3P as my primary car. No doubt about it. When I test drove it I was sold. It's a superb car despite the minor annoyances with fit and finish. Everything about it to me says it is better than what BMW has to offer right now, hands down, M car or not (except for the fit and finish). BMW just announced they are going to keep building ICE for another 30 years. That just tells me they have one foot in the past and trying to have one foot in the future. They are a very profitable company and they are banking on that. I hope their analyses are correct b/c I have a feeling they will continue to shed marketshare to Tesla as more and more owners like myself convert. I mean, I am a diehard BMW fan and I left the brand (not completely of course, but not buying a new BMW anytime soon). Imagine your causal BMW drivers. I almost shed a tear as I turned in our i3 lease knowing I wasn't going to come back (not for a long while b/c BMW has a lot to catch up on with Tesla). I bet most casual BMW owners won't even blink an eye.
 
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skrtskrt

Member
Sep 30, 2018
575
132
USA/EU
It's been a while since I drove a BMW M4/M3 comp (last year) but having put MPP coilovers, front lower control arm bushings on my P3D with MPP's "Less grip, track setting", I can honestly say it is so much better then the M4/M3 in handling, cornering, steering but I don't want to just rely on my memory and was wondering if anyone else felt the same way or similar? How would you guys compare the body rolls too?
 

SpicyPaneer

Member
May 27, 2021
35
13
Franklin Park
Thank you for the honest and Great comparison write up..

I have a 2018 M4 AW/SO Vert, I'll be keeping as my spring --> Fall vehicle and most likely add the M3P to the addition black on black for the wife and Plaid Plus if they were to bring it back (BMW M5 replacement) for me. also black on black. :)
 
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N54TT

Member
Aug 14, 2018
961
740
NY
Thank you for the honest and Great comparison write up..

I have a 2018 M4 AW/SO Vert, I'll be keeping as my spring --> Fall vehicle and most likely add the M3P to the addition black on black for the wife and Plaid Plus if they were to bring it back (BMW M5 replacement) for me. also black on black. :)
What‘s wrong with the Plaid that’s out now? Why wait for a Plaid plus that may never come? 1/4 mile in 9’s @ over 150mph is already crazy.
 
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dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,195
5,213
FL
Thank you for the honest and Great comparison write up..

I have a 2018 M4 AW/SO Vert, I'll be keeping as my spring --> Fall vehicle and most likely add the M3P to the addition black on black for the wife and Plaid Plus if they were to bring it back (BMW M5 replacement) for me. also black on black. :)
Plaid is already so fast that you won't be able to use the full performance on the street or on the road much or at least not very long before you're in seriously illegal territory, and you're not even able to run it at most drag strips without a full roll cage which nobody's going to do. The Plaid plus was probably going to be a tenth of a second faster? Is that meaningful?
 
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Dolemite

is my name
Sep 19, 2019
1,356
1,652
Seattle, WA
Plaid is already so fast that you won't be able to use the full performance on the street or on the road much or at least not very long before you're in seriously illegal territory, and you're not even able to run it at most drag strips without a full roll cage which nobody's going to do. The Plaid plus was probably going to be a tenth of a second faster? Is that meaningful?
You can already barely use the M3P's full performance on the road - and only for a brief moment.
 

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,195
5,213
FL
You can already barely use the M3P's full performance on the road - and only for a brief moment.
Exactly. That's why all this obsessing about who's got the fastest car is just about bragging rights and di-- waving. It's not meaningful. Unfortunately males think it is but then again we're hopeless
 

Dolemite

is my name
Sep 19, 2019
1,356
1,652
Seattle, WA
Exactly. That's why all this obsessing about who's got the fastest car is just about bragging rights and di-- waving. It's not meaningful. Unfortunately males think it is but then again we're hopeless
At this point, I'd honestly rather them start focusing on more consistent performance. But they might already be figuring that out with the new Model S... so best of both worlds? Apparently there's no noticeable drop-off in performance until you get to about 35%. I just worry that we're entering an entirely new era of performance and speed with EVs, and it's only a matter of time before some bureaucratic *sugar* stain starts cracking down acceleration, etc.
 

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,195
5,213
FL
At this point, I'd honestly rather them start focusing on more consistent performance. But they might already be figuring that out with the new Model S... so best of both worlds? Apparently there's no noticeable drop-off in performance until you get to about 35%. I just worry that we're entering an entirely new era of performance and speed with EVs, and it's only a matter of time before some bureaucratic *sugar* stain starts cracking down acceleration, etc.
Well I think that's where they're headed - making the performance much more repeatable. Tesla knows they had to get closer to if not equal what Porsche had done in that regard, and I think the new plaid is probably pretty close to the Taycan. I'm intrigued by what they're going to do as a follow-up Act in terms of the model 3. As for government bureaucracy putting the kibosh on Extreme acceleration I can't see that frankly. Bad for business. And these high-end models drive increased interest in the brand so it would be bad for the brand.
 

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