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///M3 Forum
The BMW E46 ///M3 is the M version E46 and puts out an amazing 333 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque at stock specs! There are an amazing amount of modifications for both the coupe and convertible models so read up and get started modifying your cars today!

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Old 10-22-2012, 06:20 PM   #1
rakluselyk
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My Ride: 2004 BMW 330i ZHP
Advantages upgrading from a 330i ZHP to an e46 M3?

Well I've enjoyed my 330 ZHP alot but am looking something for alittle more power. I still love the e46 and really have no intention on leaving BMW but I would just like to know some personal experience between the two cars and or any big differences. (i.e) maintenance, power, fuel economy, handling etc.. Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-22-2012, 06:35 PM   #2
HiHoBrian
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The M offers a little more of everything when driven closer to the limit. When the 330 whiffs out,the M stacks on almost an additional 100hp,but is mostly at the top of the rpm range. Since you are on this forum I would guess you already know you can dump as much cash or credit money into PM'ing a BMW as you want. If an extra $20 or $30 per oil change is going to bother you and maybe $600 in rear tires on top of normal BMW PM work every two years breaks the bank then pass.

I got around 26mpg in my 330, and now average 19mpg in the M. That can vary quite a bit depending on how you drive. If you enjoy and are capable of working on your own car and can appreciate the extra handing and power then don't hesitate to switch.
Pm me with some info f you want to sell the ZHP. I may have a buyer.

sent from my ATARI sc1224
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Old 10-22-2012, 07:39 PM   #3
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Faster. More fun to drive. Less fuel efficiency. More expensive maintenance.
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Old 10-24-2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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Because race car bro!
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:17 PM   #5
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I've had both cars and coming from the ZHP I noticed many differences...some subtle...some not so subtle. In addition to the obvious difference in power and torque, I would say that the M even on stock suspension handles much better than the lower (stock) ZHP. The M3 suspension just feels a lot more heavy duty and it is. I liked the shifter and the steering wheel ratio better in the ZHP but that's it.

RE: MPG....I got around 22 mpg in the 330ZHP (calculated, not from the OB computer) and 18-19 in the M3.

Last but not least you mentioned maintenance. That is a big one. The M3 is a lot more expensive to maintain compared to the ZHP. I just put 93 oct gas in the ZHP and did regular 7500 mi oil changes. That's it. The M3 oil change is a LOT more expensive as are the other specialty fluids this beast needs. It also needs other preventative maint. and it eats tires if you drive it the way it was meant to be driven. There you have it. I love my M3 and I'm glad I made the change.

Here is the side by side pic. M to the left. Notice the ZHP is a little lower....and yes, I went from a Black ZHP vert to a Black M3 vert
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:27 PM   #6
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:36 PM   #7
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The advantage to upgrading to a M3 from a 330 is a fairly large leap. Let's handle this in the way you want in your post, meaning maintenance, power, fuel economy, and handling.

When it comes to maintenance, every general weakness that a 330 has, a M3 will have, except to a greater degree (with perhaps the exception of window regulators), and since it is an "M" car, that makes it more expensive to own. Take motor oil for example, a liter of Castrol 10w-60 at a dealer is about $15.00 dollars, that's 3 times the cost of say Mobil 1. Many of the enthusiasts shun the 15,000 mile intervals and do 7,500 mile intervals. I prefer 5,000 myself. Onto a costlier item, the 330 uses hydraulic valve lifters which automatically adjusts intake and exhaust valve clearance relative to the seat for no maintenance cost; the M3 uses "mechanical" lifters (for the reason of high rpm capability) similar to a bucket on shim type that requires adjustment every 40,000 miles if I recall correctly. At an "Indy" shop, this cost me about $500 and I coughed up another $100 for car rental for several days. Lastly, tires for this sled are expensive, my set of Conti 5P 285/30/19 (R) 255/35/19 (F) set me back $1,600, shipping, mounting, and balancing. Putting premium tires on a fast car is imperative, it is the ONLY thing between you and the tarmac.

When it comes to power, a 330 is brisk; it is not a slow car; the engine and drivetrain is very smooth and the engine power is linear. Just for comparison sake, a 330 is no faster than say a new V6 Camry, a new turbo Buick or even the last generation Honda Accord V6, that packed 240 horses. What I'm trying to say, there are many cars similar to it in power so if you get into passing situation where the other guy does not play nice, you're not going to pass. A manual M3 is a low/mid 13s 1/4 mile car that can sprint to 60 mph in 4.7s or so. That is fast. That is Porsche fast. That is equal to a Porsche 996, and the last generation of Porsche 997, of course not the more powerful "S" version. It's also right in there with older Ferrari's, say in the 348 and 355 vintage. At regular freeway speed, heel-toe from 6th to 4th at say 80 mph, no Camry, Accord or Buick will even touch you. The power of the S54 is good enough now so as to not get eclipsed by even today's fast cars, meaning 300 horse Mustangs and Camaros.

Fuel economy is not bad for such a powerful car, if you drive it like a normal car. I see 24-25 mpg on long freeway trips at a steady 75-80 mph but in pure city driving, I get an eye-watering 16 or 17 mpg. A stock M3 might get just a stitch better fuel economy as my car has CSL headers and other goodies. As for the type of fuel, don't even think about using anything less than 91 octane. The S54 runs at 11.5:1 compression, add a little bit of carbon build up on top of the piston and you could be looking at an effective 12:1 compression ratio; that's really high for a street motor. For comparative purposes, my bud just bought a GM High Performance crate motor for his '69 Chevelle; it's a ZZ 383 with 450 horse or close to it. That 383 runs a 10:1 compression ratio. It's important to use the right gas.

The difference in handling between say a ZCP M3 and 330 is fairly wide and far apart. In the comparison for stock-for-stock, the 330 is a comfortable higher end car with a nice compliant ride, and fairly good chassis rigidity tied to a well dampened suspension for control. You can take on-ramps and say regular bends at a brisk pace. A M3 for simplification sake, since it uses the same chassis, feels the same with the exception that the suspension is much stiffer, the suspension bushing are stiffer, and the tires are wider with stiffer side walls; all this adds up to much better handling, in the hands of a competent driver. To give you an idea, EVO Magazine timed a M3 at 1 min, 27.8s at their track; on the same track an Honda/Acura NSX came in at 1 min 30s and C63 AMG Benz ran that same track at 1 min 28.8s. Make no mistake, the M3 is a fast car on the road and track.

There you have it; now go out there, buy a good M3, meaning one not that was run hard and put away wet, and enjoy!
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:54 PM   #8
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the steering wheel ratio better in the ZHP but that's it.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:02 PM   #9
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better platform to reach past 500rwhp.

It is also future proof as It will always be the E46 M3.
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Old 10-25-2012, 01:06 AM   #10
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I've owned both. Put about 60k miles on the ZHP. About 30k on the M3 so far.

The M3 is faster - a lot faster. Takes a bit of time to get used to - I found myself doubling my speed whenever passing someone in the beginning.
The M3 just feels stiffer. The suspension is actually not much harsher, but the steering requires a lot more effort, as does the clutch, as does the shifter. Brakes are a lot touchier.
The M3 feels much more stable; the M3 is rock solid at 120 while the ZHP starts to get a bit shaky up there.

As far as maintenance goes... for me it's a wash. The suspension components are much beefier - they're designed to take more abuse than the 330. So under equal conditions, the M3's suspension components will last longer. My control arms and bushings are still good today at 100k miles (I check every time i have the car in the air and I know what bad control arms feel like). The cooling system is not known to spontaneously fail on the M3 - so that's a big expense saved. What does cost more are the consumables. Oil is expensive, brakes are expensive, tranny and diff fluids need to be changed every 60k miles (and that diff fluid is $100/L), and the valve adjustment needs to be performed every 25-30k miles. However, the cost and frequency of these items are low enough that the durability increases offset the cost of the consumables for me.

Gas mileage is a little worse on the M3. I can actually pull off some impressive numbers if I try, but it requires me to drive slow. At 60mph I can pull off 32mpg highway. But I hate driving 60. I was able to do the same mileage at 80mph on the ZHP (and the ZHP was a little weird in that the gas mileage at 80 was better than the mileage at 60). Realistically I get more like 27 on the highway, and average 22 overall.

In snow, the M3 is a much better car. The LSD works wonders. My ZHP would get stuck everywhere - the M3 didn't nearly as often. I loved it.

All in all it's a great car and IMO the positives outweigh the negatives. That said, don't underestimate the increased effort required to drive the car (the stiffness I mentioned earlier). You may not think much of it, but it does get a little tiring after a while. I didn't realize how much of a difference there was until I drove my buddy's ZHP. I would probably have still gone for the M3... but if I could have afforded it, I would have bought both cars.
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Old 10-25-2012, 01:49 AM   #11
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Ive never owned an M3, but strongly plan to do so. I just think the M3 is timeless, a collectible , a car that will always be remembered. The 330 on the other hand will be forgotten and does not have a soul.
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:20 PM   #12
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Like they say everything is better. My 330 was fun and i miss rear doors on it but it was a 5 speed and I get about the same or maybe better gas mileage with my M3. (lots of freeway driving). My favorite difference is that in the 330 you can floor it and not really be satisfied (also it felt cheep to me when the pedal hits the floor:-/). where as the M it's really hard to reach that limit on the streets (at least in sport mode which i'd kind of wish would be on permanently). Also I sling my M into corners twists and bends that would put my 330i in in a ditch tree or an innocents home at similar speed. (both my cars were/are basically stock)

Get your E46 M3 while the price per condition is still good. I'm hoarding mine.
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:24 PM   #13
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Get your E46 M3 while the price per condition is still good. I'm hoarding mine.
I'm doing the same thing. The wife has even agreed. Not because I'm prospecting that it's value will go up, but because I still think it's one of the best damn designed cars I've ever seen. Not to mention it's so much damn fun to drive. They'll bury me in mine.
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mexsir View Post
Ive never owned an M3, but strongly plan to do so. I just think the M3 is timeless, a collectible , a car that will always be remembered. The 330 on the other hand will be forgotten and does not have a soul.
The ZHP version of the 330 definitely has soul With a laundry list of completely different parts on the car (including a slightly hotter cam) compared to a regular 330... the ZHP is sort of like the M3's little brother. The regular 330 is a cousin.
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:42 PM   #15
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I test drove an M3 and I knew right away that I HAD to get the car. Its soo much fun to drive. Such a Timeless car. I will keep this car for a LONG time.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:31 PM   #16
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everything costs more
everything is better (if you're into performance)

Oh and my favorite feature on the M3 is when people ask if it's an M3, i get to say "yes"
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:35 AM   #17
Nyght
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I hate people who put M3 badges on their 323i... It is disgusting. lol..
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:09 AM   #18
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That M badge is worth it all. Those moments where you tell people "lets take the m3" are priceless. Feels so good.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:13 AM   #19
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:02 AM   #20
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I know this is a little off topic, but...

I think I figured out exactly why I dislike Fake3's. I was driving home from work the other day and spotted what I thought was an E46 M3 coming the other direction. I always get excited when I see another E46 M for some reason. I guess it's because I don't see many of them.

Turns out it was a regular E46 with an M3 rep bumper. Went from excitement to disappointment instantly. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Not being a snob, I just feel we're part of a group.

So OP, join the group. You won't be disappointed. Cost to join is a bit higher than a regular E46, but it's totally worth it. At least it is to me.
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