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TM3 vs E90 335d

Discussion in 'Model 3: Driving Dynamics' started by Carotene, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. Carotene

    Carotene Member

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    TM3 vs BMW 335d (diesel 425 ft-lbs torque)

    I had the opportunity to rent a TM3 via Turo.com this past weekend. I have another post with broader details on my experience with the car. For this post, I thought it would be helpful to compare TM3 performance vs. E90 BMW 335D. I know the E90 is a generation back for BMW, but both cars appeal to me due to a shared set of factors; efficiency, luxury, handling, and price point. I owned a 335D as a daily for 3 years and these are my thoughts.

    The 335d is the ultimate highway cruiser. Gobs of torque, great gas mileage, quiet for a diesel, and has all the driving experience of a 3-series; albeit with a little more weight. One of the best attributes of the 335d is the effortless grunt on tap that seemingly defies physics. Cruising at 65mph, just a slight press of the throttle will shoot you to a new position on the road at will. It never gets old and it’s so liberating when navigating around slow pokes at highway speed. It does have its downsides. First is dealing with diesel fill ups at the station. Diesel doesn’t evaporate like gasoline. The pump handles are usually covered in a nice coating of diesel/oil, so gloves are must at each fill-up. There’s also a couple standard sizes of pump nozzle diameters, which sometimes necessitates the use of an awkward adapter to match the 335d fuel port. And then there is the need for DEF fluid for emissions which needs topping off every few months or so. Which brings me to the biggest issue with the 335d – the US diesel emissions system. It recirculates exhaust back through the intake for cleaner final tailpipe emissions. This recirculated exhaust results in soot build-up on the intake which eventually chokes the car to death and clogs injectors. Fun stuff and not cheap to clean or fix. My understanding is that BMW has since improved their procedures for blasting soot, but I jumped ship well before it was suitably resolved.

    It's been 4 years since I’ve sold the 335d. Driving the TM3 on the highway brought back that same rush of excitement. This car too can instantaneously shoot you from point A to B at highway speed, but there’s a difference in delivery. Where the 335d kicks you in the butt with a jolt of torque, the TM3 gives a steady, linear push like that of a high revving engine (without all the loud fanfare). One of the youtube reviewers described it like the launch of modern rollercoasters. It’s really uncanny. Like a whole dam of electrons is let loose at your beckoning call. It doesn’t push you back in the seat per se or distort your vision like a vette or 911 turbo at WOT, but it does apply a persistent and unrelenting force to your backside that is deceivingly quick. The response to go-pedal input is truly immediate, beating the 335d throttle response by 100’s of milliseconds. In your periphery the speedo climbs impossibly fast and just as your smile hits full grin you have to pull back else risk triple-digit incarceration. It does all this while also not being a dirty, loud ICE or diesel engine. This was my first go in an EV and it’s a remarkable experience.

    On the handling side, the TM3 is every bit the match for a 3-series. Turn in is crisp and predictable. Road feel in sport mode is excellent. The thick and compact steering wheel adds to this experience. Seats are reasonably bolstered, though I wouldn’t call them sport seats, and the low cg keeps body roll way low. The 335d has softer, more tuned suspension, but I thought the TM3 suspension was just fine. If you’ve driven a WRX, I’d say it’s right there in terms of tuning and feel.

    Both cars present a spartan interior, but the TM3 takes it to a whole new level as we all know. I found the TM3 seats to be more plush and comfortable, but the BMW leather (I think) will be more durable. Front seat adjustability is about even. TM3 fit and finish throughout was mostly on par with the 3 series and it was refreshing being back in a well-appointed cabin.

    In short, the TM3 won me over in less than a day. I know I’m a bit late to the party compared to most folks on this board, but I too am now convinced EVs are the future. When more car enthusiasts are able to get their seat time they too will be converts. It can’t help but wonder what the dynamics of highway traffic will be like when EVs reach critical mass. Exciting stuff!


    TL;DR; It must be mine.
     
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  2. Zoomit

    Zoomit Active Member

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    Thank you for your perspective and thank you for not calling it an M3.

    (23 year M3 owner)
     
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  3. 03DSG

    03DSG Active Member

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    Good review. Thanks! Only comment I have is about the BMW leather lasting longer. You are most likely aware but the Tesla ‘pleather’ is a synthetic vegan material. Most material in this class when professionally wear tested will last about 10 times longer on the test machine than leather. YMMV
     
  4. omgwtfbyobbq

    omgwtfbyobbq Active Member

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    Ditto on vegan leather lasting longer than leather. DW's looking for a used 2014-2015 RX 450h for her mom, and nearly every car we've seen has had cracks in the leather driver's seat. We have a 2014 Toyota with Softex and that's held up far better. I've seen some complaints about vegan leather, but I think that's mostly polyether-based TPU because it has worse abrasion resistance and heat aging than polyester-based TPU, and if car seats see anything, it's abrasion and heat.

    Thermoplastic polyurethane - Wikipedia
     
  5. Carotene

    Carotene Member

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    Thanks for the info on the "vegan leather". Some marketing dude deserves a raise for that one. Good to hear it's durable. Anyway, I think the seats are a stand-out feature. My 3-series seats were not as comfortable. The TM3 seat material is very supple.
     
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  6. evJOULE

    evJOULE Member

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    Great post Carotene! I will be leaving behind a 528 when I am finally able to make the jump, but I couldn't have said it better... I'm a convert!
     
  7. dmode

    dmode Member

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    Thanks for the post. I used to have a e92 335 and enjoyed the car immensely, although had reliability issues and 90s tech. That was the last great BMW. F30 was so meh.
     
  8. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Active Member

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    I've had two BMWs, one with leather and one with "Vegan leather" (dumbest name ever). Had both cars for about 8 years and the real leather seats held up way better than the synthetics. The real leather ones looked great after 110k miles, while the synthetic ones had a few rips and tears and generally looked terrible. I think there is a huge range in quality of the leather in different cars, so I'm sure others have had different experiences. The fake leather in the BMW also isn't the same fake stuff that's in Tesla's so who knows.
     
  9. Park2670

    Park2670 Member

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    Turned in my 335d in 2013 and miss it terribly for the same exact reason. I transitioned to full EV this past year and am not really looking back at all. I love torque!

    Great review OP.
     
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  10. 03DSG

    03DSG Active Member

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    Agree, no question. The fake leather definitely comes in different grades and qualities.
     

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