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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > General E90 Sedan / E91 Wagon / E92 Coupe / E93 Cabrio > E90 M3 vs E90 335xi 2009 impressions



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      02-11-2009, 09:04 AM   #1
cboy12
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E90 M3 vs E90 335xi 2009 impressions

Just as a preamble I was reading a lot of reviews online in the last months as I needed to replace my E60 M5 (after a serious accident). I narrowed my choice down to 2 contenders the M3 and 335xi (I know they are very different in character). From reading most posts about the M3 from people dreaming to own one, or owners who were justifying buying one I felt like I had to write my personal view about both cars after test driving them both back to back at the W/E.



Experiences 335xi

looks definitely not as aggressive or sexy as the M3. With x drive ride height obviously higher especially at the front.
In short for looks 7/10

Interior design

Well made interiors much better than I was expecting from my Z4 or looking at pictures on-line. Sport seats were great. Everything was
solid. New Navi and idrive are great, Logic 7 with surround sound was wonderful!!

Driving experience.

Engine

First thing I noticed was how easy it was to drive. It felt like I didn't need to push it at all, the car was happy and responsive just tootling along at 2000 rpm. What a
relaxed feeling. Later in the test drive I pushed it up to high rpms, the car reacted to this like a rocket. Below 160 kph subjectively speaking not different from the M3. From this speed or 180 onwards
there was a difference of about 20% in terms of responsiveness under acceleration but before not really noticeable in the real word and I drove back to back (amazing actually).

X drive feel

yes the steering is stiffer than I expected but consistently so and if I hadn't heard people complain I would say that it was unreservedly good as it felt meaty.
After reading so many negative comments I am apprehensive to be so bold as maybe I missed something. In short I would say yes heavier than standard but
responsive and by no means a bad thing.

Cornering is noticeably better, its like being on rails. However the feeling is different than RWD at first a bit artificial may be not quite as sporty (even though speeds
in wet were higher). In general a safe feeling under acceleration.

Fuel economy 12 l/100 in an automatic (heavier) with x-drive and with only 1000km on the clock and winter tyres. Phenomenal considering the explosive performance on tap.

Summary

Well built, elegant GT-style sports car (i.e. not a sports car) and very practical (4 doors). Super engine it is everything to everyone i.e sporty, economical,
easy to drive doesn't hustle you (unlike M3 see below). Great car, looks a bit boring but nothing is perfect.


M3 impressions

The looks are just great. It looks significantly better than any other 3 series even better than its big brother the M5. From the front it is however identical
to 335xi with M packet (a small consolation for the 335).
looks 9/10

Interior design

As above but with higher quality leather ie smoother finish. Also steering wheel 20% better feel quality. Apart from that it is identical. Disappointing considering the 15k price difference (here in Germany)


Driving experience.

The conditions were wet in places and about 2 degrees Celsius. My over all feeling was the M3 was not as confident in these conditions as the 335xi.
Gear shifts with manual were long and notchy (what a surprise in a car of this class). Acceleration under load, as can be inferred from the above report was like the 335xi, but power delivery was very different. Basically the feeling is there is little power below 4000 rpm and then it comes in a wash. Boom it builds up! The engine noise accompanying it is irritating, a gnarly grinding sound that never disappears in the cabin.
If you are on a race track, no problem but why on earth would someone choose to hear this all the time in every day driving condition. It must increase your pulse alone by 5-10 bpm. Yes I like sports cars even driving fast but I don't want the engine sound to annoy me when I am just driving to the shops. Also because of the power curve like all
M cars ( I briefly owned an M5 E60) it encourages you to go up to 6,7 or 8000 rpm because that's where the fun is. But wait a minute this is the real world with other road users and
hazards etc. These hazards are not on the race track. Why would you want to drive at those rpms with your car just to have fun? With the 335xi the fun was there in the beginning. It was not sensational though
just solid and long lasting, not orgasmic which is what the M3 eventually is at the end of the rev range. But guess what the M5 is much better in that department (you can tell from the 0-200 time of 13.5 secs). It was really like an explosion at those speeds. So the M3 is not the best M for that either. It seems like the M3 sits perfectly between the 335xi and M5. Well done M GmbH, because I guess that's where it should be. Probably in the dry the M3 is a tad more agile than the 335xi. The steering was very responsive and inspired confidence on the dry parts of the road. But overall for the real word the car was too compromised for me. In dry conditions on a perfect surface going ten tenths the M3 is a better car (a part form the noise) but its not always dry or perfect and 9 /10 of the time there is something that prevents you from going ten tenths (unless you are a maniac). In those conditions the 335xi (and no doubt the 335i but I didn't test drive it) is the car of choice. If you get bored of the engine (not sure I would though!) one can always have the ECU flashed ( à la Noelle) and increase torque by 20%. You cant do that with an M3.

As a foot note M3 fuel economy was 16.5 l/100


ps I do not wish to offend any M3 owners, i still think the M3 is a very beautiful car for a very specific purpose. Thumbs up to you for buying one. i just wanted to help those in the situation I was in before the weekend as many of the comparisons I read up to now were based on paper values or were speculative IMHO.
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      02-11-2009, 09:51 AM   #2
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Lots of E90 M3s around here (Kaiserslautern) with winter tires and none seem to have any winter drivability issues. Of course, personally I wouldn't want to "waste" the M3 in winter usage here. Just wasted miles during a horrible time of year for driving.

If you don't need xi, then don't get it. I had a '06 E90 330xi, and aside from the poor fuel economy (compared to the non-xi), it doesn't drive near as well as the non-xi version either. Nice car for basic transportation. The xi is nice when it snows though. Then again, my FWD '05 MINI S with winter tires was equally as proficient in the white stuff.

I'd get the M3 and a beater w/winter tires for poor weather driving.
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      02-11-2009, 10:07 AM   #3
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Nice write up. Xi is not really necessary as already stated above by MVF4Rider. Try a 335i 6MT for that matter. Great car great price.

Though I LOVE the M this time of the year(nicely sideways, almost no tyreburning at all) I understand what you mean.

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      02-11-2009, 11:33 AM   #4
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I don't think this is correct, the E90 M3 shares the same front as the E92 M3, i.e. E92 headlights et al while the regular E90s have fronts that are distintctly different than E92s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy12 View Post
From the front it is however identical
to 335xi with M packet (a small consolation for the 335).
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      02-11-2009, 12:40 PM   #5
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I had a 335xi, great in a straight line but a big miss on the ultimate driving machine. The ride is bad and cornering is, well, bad.

The M3 is a V8 and is a sports car. The 335xi is a DD car that goes fast.

The two are distinctly different in so many ways.

I winter drive my M3, never a problem. Does the traction control kick in, you bet, but it is winter and winter tires are not perfect.

An interesting review but I would never go back.
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      02-11-2009, 02:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canucklion View Post
I know this is incorrect, the E90 M3 shares the same front as the E92 M3, i.e. E92 headlights et al while the regular E90s have fronts that are distintctly different than E92s.
Fixed.
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      02-11-2009, 03:00 PM   #7
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I'd have to agree that M's in general are another animal. Just got back from driving my buddies e93 335i with vishnu 3 on race gas w/ 19" wheels and kw v3. A great touring car and monster in a straight line but really just didn't do anything for me even in comparison to my lowly e85M. The steering felt numb and the suspension was wallowy but smooth
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      02-11-2009, 03:26 PM   #8
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I like to err on the side of caution when making absolute statements on this board; I've ate quite a few of my words before

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer Loyalist View Post
Fixed.
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      02-12-2009, 02:12 AM   #9
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test drove an 09 M3 coupe 3 weeks ago and here are the things I liked and didnt like compared to my 08 e92 xi

Positives of the M
- loved the addicting sound
- nicer seats/steering
- definitely nicer looking (front bumper, sides, hood, rear etc etc)
- better steering feel/tighter around turns
- pulls all the way until red line
- no need to worry about wastegate rattles, HPFP problems or turbo issues with the N54 engine

Negatives
- price obviously
- cost to insure
- poor MPG, I get 20mpg city driving in my 335xi
- not as mod friendly
- not as practical in poor weather as an AWD vehicle
- you can own/insure/fill up one vehicle vs having an M and a winter beater
- no low end torque where most ppl do their daily driving
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      02-12-2009, 10:08 AM   #10
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good, review, I enjoy my 335i xdrive... and I would say the xdrive isn't so much necessary as it is an improvement in every day driving and road conditions- snow or not.
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