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Thread: M2 VS M2 Competition VS M3(e46) VS M4 Review

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  1. #1
    BMWHaus Guru
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    Aug 2013

    Post M2 VS M2 Competition VS M3(e46) VS M4 Review

    Sunday morning was a good morning as far as mornings go!

    Moe had generously offered for me to go for extended drives in his M3 and M4 after my time in the M2 Competition for comparison. Leigh, Seamus and Attilio ended up joining us for the spin which made for an excellent ///M convoy.

    I called over to Moe's house at the crack of dawn, hopped into the e46 M3, he got into the M4 and we went to meet the others and carve our way through some tasty roads.

    The M3 is in great condition and is a credit to both Moe and Chillipepper. There was a real sense of drama with it being SMG, and having to nurse it up to temperature before you can give it the beans, and when it's warm and you do push on, the induction noise sounded fantastic - I was fully convinced it had an aftermarket air box (it doesn't), the engine had that lovely signature S54 metallic sound, and the exhaust sounded so good I was again convinced it was aftermarket (it wasn't).

    I got to know the M3 a bit better as we made our way up the Wicklow mountains, it's an immensely fun car to drive, surprisingly tame, the back end remains compliant (seemed strange as the last S54 powered car I drove was Attilio's Z4M and it was very tail happy indeed!) the power delivery is very linear, and it's definitely a car you have to/can wind up to the red line and use every drop of performance on the road, Moe had advised to keep the gearbox shift ferocity in the max setting which was... ferocious... however when dialled back to the lowest setting I found it to be much smoother and more enjoyable. I get that they were trying to add a bit of drama to the shifts but honestly (and this is probably personal preference) I'm perfectly happy having no jerk at all, in fact if it was F1 smooth with absolutely no gaps between shifts that'd be just fine! Apart from that, I expected the SMG to be dimwitted and slow, and while it's no DCT, it's certainly no slouch either and it adds a layer of fun to the driving experience especially on twisty back roads. The upshifts are reasonably quick and the downshifts when timed right (think braking before corner entry) are very satisfying. Overall a great gearbox for spirited driving, although as I didn't do any real start/stop traffic or slow driving where you don't just downshift in braking zones, it's hard to say what it would be like say driving to work and back. The M3 suspension is FIRM, Moe mentioned it was set up for track use but we never got into the exact differences over the standard setup. When I got into it first I thought it was going to be a bit nervous or skittish when the road surface gets bumpy, but it wasn't the case and the rear was nicely planted. The steering was lovely, lighter than I'd expected but plenty communicative.

    Conclusion: The M3 is great because you can use all the power all the time, it has a lovely analog feel to it, and the SMG adds a sense of occasion. It's a progressive, tame car to drive, it rewards you rather than threatens to kill you and as such it's a car you could confidently drive at the limit without electronic nannies.

    When we got to the half way point, we pulled in for coffee and a chat. It was at this point that I hopped into the M4.

    The M4 evolved into such a different car from the M3, it's not just a different generation, it has a completely different character, much closer to the M2 competition but more on that later. Everything is naturally more digital than analogue with the likes of the Head Up Display, iDrive and the myriad of driver settings for everything. The first thing you notice driving off though is how much bigger and wider it is, the M4 feels huge in comparison. Within a few miles and some flicking through the Engine, Suspension, Gearbox, and Steering settings you will find a set up that's right for you, although with the amount of options available you're always wondering if there's a better set up you could be in every time the conditions change (road surface etc).

    In terms of driving, this car is a monster, especially with the "software updates" this car had ;-) it's loud, it pops like no one's business, the turbo sounds are addictive and while I'm not a fan of how the M4s' exhaust sound stock, this one is just right! The differences in character between this and the e46 M3 though is that you don't wind this car up, you don't need to go near the red line, there's an abundance of power everywhere, it is literally an unnatural (TURBOS) amount of power and as such it is very much recommended to keep the electronic nannies on, especially on the road, to keep it in check. You can still have plenty of fun but you won't bin it. Where the M3 is planted, the M4 is easily provoked and you can adjust it's placement on the road with your right foot. This is a very different experience from the e46.

    The DCT is as you'd expect, super quick both ways but in order to have the satisfying downshifts you need to have it set to it's max gearbox ferocity setting which adds fake jerks to the up shifts when you're "on it". This can be remedied by putting it in the lowest setting but then the downshifts aren't as immediate. Not the biggest deal, but would like it if there was a way to have the smooth up shifts with the immediate downshifts.

    The M4 is the most premium in terms of options / options available and it has adaptive suspension which no M2 can be equipped with (which leaves you with an upsetting blank button in your brand new M2 Competition no matter how much you spend).

    Conclusion: The M4 is great because of the incredible amount of power on tap, enough to be able to rotate it on the road with your right foot, as well as the modern tech. The simply unnatural amount of power this car produces means DSC is best left on unless you're on a track.

    M2 Competition driven on the same roads:The M2 Competition feels like it combines the best of both the e46 M3 and the M4, it's similar in size to the M3 (although it does feel quite wide), with the detuned (if you could really call it that with 410bhp) S55 you can still exploit most of the power and wind it up a bit, and yet it feels every bit as fast as the M4. What makes The M2 Competition special though is that it feels alive! It does the same thing the M4 does where it rotates and adjusts itself on the road with the throttle but it does it more eagerly and it feels a lot sharper with the shorter wheelbase, It's exciting in a way the M3 could never be. I guess that's what 550NM torque does! The whole car also just feels more "together" and compact than the M4. One annoying thing as mentioned above is the blank button that would normally be for adaptive suspension in the M4 but will always be a blank on the M2 as it's not an option - they really couldn't spend 5 extra euro on R&D and remove the extra blank button? The funny thing is though, while in the M4 you do have adaptive suspension, the M2 Competition suspension is so well sorted it just doesn't need it, it was so stable over the bumpy straight in the sally gap, it glides through corners and it just generally inspires confidence.

    With the M2 competition having some extra toys available and clever new tech such as the adaptive laser lights that turn night into day when driving on a dark backroad, and disperses the light around oncoming traffic or cars in front to not blind them, the proper ///M seats, mirrors, etc they took what they set out to accomplish with the original M2, dialled it up to 11 by adding full ///M garnish, and bridging the gap in terms of quality / premium feel between the original M2 and the M4. It is the best driver's car - at least for what I look for in a car - without sacrificing any day to day practicality.

    Finally there's styling, entirely subjective ofcourse, but there's no getting around the fact the M2 has the most bulging arches of any ///M car, and with the additional styling cues over the original M2 it just looks so aggressive (such as the slots sticking out of the bumper and even the low hanging back box everyone seems to hate, it looks like a pitbull complete with its' danglies )

    Conclusion: The M2 Competition is great because it's the perfect all rounder. It takes the best attributes of past and present ///M cars and puts them into one neatly polished package.

    M2 Competition interior:

    Them danglies

    Anybody else see the resemblance?

    They both have that stubby, muscular, compact look

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