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Thread: E46 BMW M3 or 8P S3?

  1. #1
    monster_munch's Avatar
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    E46 BMW M3 or 8P S3?

    I know on this forum I am going to get a biased opinion, but I value them anyway, so any advice, thoughts or opinions very welcome.

    In April time, Im considering getting and 8P S3 or a BMW E46 M3.
    Im not a boy racer at all, I just like a nice quick car, there will be no modifying and I will probably stick with silver like my current TDI.

    2 M3's that have caught my eye if I was to buy now are these:

    2004 BMW M3 M3 2DR 6 SPEED TAXED JUN/2012

    2003 BMW M3 M3 MANUAL - SUNROOF + H/KARDON + 19" ALLOYS

    Has anyone on here owned an M3? Any opinions? Service costs? MPG? How long do tyres last?

    For the money, I cant really find a comparable S3 with low mileage.

    I currently have a 53 reg A3 2.0 TDI 140 Sport, 3 door in akoya silver. As it stands its done 41k miles, fAsh, cambelt + waterpump done last year, standard with bose, rns-e and reverse parking sensors. Should the TDI be pretty easy to shift, and what sort of figure is it worth?

    Cheers in advance.

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    Hmmmm, my neighbour has an M3, and a work colleague has an M3CS. The CS is lovely, slightly sharper to drive, quicker to turn.

    I know I've had 2 S3's and I'd love to defend them as being the better car, but it's not. I prefer the M3 CS to my S3 as an out and out drivers car, but there are a couple of areas the S3 claws back some ground. Firstly is interior cabin; god the E46 is dated inside. Also with Stg2+ the S3 feels every bit as quick, but given some bad weather the S3 remains dependable and gets you about in the worst of the British winter.

    In the right colour the M3 still looks stunning, and let's not forget that new it commanded a hefty premium over the S3 so should be better.the engine (if well maintained)is a peach!

    Tough choice, but depends ultimately what your main drivers are as to which you'd choose.
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    M3's are ok but they dont produce their quoted power output,many have been rr'd at around 310-320 bhp,they are heavier than the S3 too so pound for pound they are about identical performance wise,the audi will be quicker off the line and better in adverse weather conditions,both great cars but the S3 would be the one i would go for.....or you could buy my 3.2


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    Nice situation to be in, I was in the identical position but had and wanted an auto.

    The M3 power and handling in the dry plus RWD had me easily sold, the potential problems with the SMG box and warranty costs put me off, at the time S3 DSGs were too expensive and ended up getting a V6 much cheaper. On paper I am missing out on power figures but when I compare the A3 interior to the E46 3 series I have to say its much better inside the A3. Insurance may be slightly cheaper for you, it was for me.

    Coming from a 140 TDI either car will wow you, in the end the subtle looks and design of the A3 got me to stay with the brand and not get an M3, how often have I come up against one? A few times, never bothered me at all. My TDI never made me smile every morning!!

    If you really are torn, go and test drive an S3 and M3.
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    haha funny this should come up, I'm about to make the move from an 8P S3 to and E46 M3, I've had the S3 almost 2 years and now is pretty heavily modified, which in its current state will outrun a stock M3. the advantage of the S3, even in the state it is in, can be a very docile, comfortable and quiet place to be, a gentile cruiser and when you want it to be, a bit of an animal... but thats only because of what I've done to it, as a standard car it lacks power and excitement, doesn't feel very quick. realistically if your getting an S3 you'll have to map it, but once you've done that you will have to at some point replace the clutch with a more robust unit, as well as change plugs every year. general running costs on an S3 arnt too bad, servicing etc
    now the M3, its a lot more raw, much louder, much more direct, not a car you can cruse about and not be noticed. the running costs are high, don't expect much milage round town, also you have to be aware and keep an eye out for the notorious rear subframe crack problem, but BMW are repairing cars that suffer that up to 10 years in age for the time being, they also have known issues with rear springs breaking. the 2 cars you've posted up are approaching their inspection 2 service (this big one) which costs about £1000-£1200 depending where you go, so have to budget for that as well, also being an E46 M3, prepare to get absolutely destroyed on insurance costs, i nearly had a heart attack when i ran quotes compared to my S3, but its one of those things that I've decided to accept
    hope that helps
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    Thanks for the replies so far.
    I do love the looks of the M3, I looked at one at the weekend and it just looks really menacing. Insurance is something I need to check up on, compare the 2 cars. I am 27 with 4 years ncb so hopefully it wont sting too much!
    Before my TDI Ive had a few performance petrols. Last year I got rid of my Focus ST, I had that remapped to 275bhp which was fun, but the clutch couldnt really take the power and an RS upgrade was £900. ST's are very cheap now, so I did consider another one, but M3's just look great, and as mentioned, Audi is a very solid brand and I love the interior quality and cabins.
    This is probably a silly question, are all S3's DSG? Ive been filtering M3 results for manual only, Ive never driven an automatic car let alone a DSG audi.
    Jungleman, is that inspection 2 serice something that is required at 10 years or on mileage? Is it better to spend a bit more for a newer one to delay the cost a few years?

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    Audi Dynamik's Avatar
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    the tyres on the m3 rear will not last a long time and quite expensive although the m3 is much faster than the s3 but quattro with s3 is a massive bonus, if you get the m3 be prepared for winter rain snow and ice :P i had a 535 d m sport previous to my Audi and i much prefer the Audi even though it is like 12k cheaper, i feel much safer when i have a little race around every now and then with the quattro, quattro on the s3 is fantastic you are just glued to the road constantly and go as fast as you dare but with the m3 you might want to consider how fast you will actually go around a bend if you know what i mean :P
    It will also cost more to insure the BMW than the Audi
    If i were you though i would go for an s3
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    It all depends on what you want from a car. I sold a concourse M3 CSL and bought my dsg S3, the S3 isn't a patch on the CSL when it comes to driver feedback etc. The airbox noise is to die for, however the S3 wins hands down on interior and build quality. I appreciate the CSL is an extreme M3 and the E46 is fairly old now. It will cost you a lot of money to tune an M3 where as a S3 can be as quick if the right mods are executed. Running a 3.2 engine is not cheap on juice, the S3 should be cheaper to insure and run as a daily driver.

    It's your call drive both and make up your mind.

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    My S3 insurance is £400, M3 CS quote was £800 (10 yrs no claims, no points, garaged, nearly 40).

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    M3 all day long if its purely a summer car. Completely different animal. Although I reckon an S3 is probably a better all rounder and that feeling you get when the boost kicks in is something else, especially after it's mapped. But if i was in your position i would be get an M3 no doubt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by monster_munch View Post
    I am 27 with 4 years ncb so hopefully it wont sting too much!
    im 29, 5 years NCB, S3 with mods £700 give or take, M3 standard £3000 I've had to dome serious work to get it down to something reasonable!

    Quote Originally Posted by monster_munch View Post
    This is probably a silly question, are all S3's DSG? Ive been filtering M3 results for manual only, Ive never driven an automatic car let alone a DSG audi.
    technically all M3s are manual, the SMG box is a manual box so have to check the descriptions carefully, the DSG S3's only came in on 2008, so if you want a DSG you'll have to get a facelift one, but manual can be any age

    Quote Originally Posted by monster_munch View Post
    Jungleman, is that inspection 2 serice something that is required at 10 years or on mileage? Is it better to spend a bit more for a newer one to delay the cost a few years?
    the inspection 2 is millage dependent, circa 60k, do not ever miss service on an M3, the engine is built to very tight tolerances which why inspection 2 is very important as they strip the engine and check everything!

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  14. #13
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    I've just sold my M3 and am looking to buy an S3. The M3 is a great car....but! There are a couple of major issues with E46 M3's that are not uncommon:
    1) head gasket failure - expensive
    2) rear subframe - an issue on all E46's but covered by BMW on cars up to 10 years old
    3) diff failure - seals wear and can fail, I think you can get the seals changed when the diff oil is done during a full service. But check beforehand.
    4) SMG - not great even when it's working! (a car like this should be manual anyway!)

    There's a lot of desperate sellers out there, so a buyers market but def. get an inspection done.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Audi dynamik View Post
    the tyres on the m3 rear will not last a long time and quite expensive although the m3 is much faster than the s3
    its not bud,honestly,i have owned one ,not much difference between an E46 M3 and my 3.2 to be fair


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    I had a 02 manual M3 for year in 2005, Carbon black with Imola red leather, best car I've owned, thrilling drive, engine to die for, nice cabin and not too bling.

    I had a 2002 225bhp S3 before that and struggled to get the power down at first(so used to S3) but when I learned to drive it right it was so rewarding.

    I haven't owned an 8P S3 but had a good test drive in mapped to 310bhp three door, lovely cabin but the sudden turbo power delivery didn't do it for me and I kept my 07 R32.

    If you test the M3, hold the revs at exactly 4000 in second gear and then nail, throttle response and the way it screams to 8000 rpm never grows old!

    I'm determined to own an M3 CSL at some stage

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    Quote Originally Posted by paultaylor View Post
    I'm determined to own an M3 CSL at some stage
    mmm the CSL's are gorgeous! would love one, but a bit too expensive still! but the noise from the carbon air box is epic, saving for a carbon box will be my main mod!
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    Audi Dynamik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marknjayne View Post
    its not bud,honestly,i have owned one ,not much difference between an E46 M3 and my 3.2 to be fair
    Ahh right, must be the tyres and kind of driving
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    Quote Originally Posted by Audi dynamik View Post
    Ahh right, must be the tyres and kind of driving
    not really,i have owned an e36m3 evo too and that was quicker than the e46,you have to remember there are more thing to take into account other than power,there is weight,driven wheels and related power loss,gear ratios etc,i have owned a lot of performance cars from 500 bhp skylines to vxr merivas and have driven a lot of performance cars too,the m3 is a fantastic car but not quite as quick as they are made out to be


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    Quote Originally Posted by jungleman View Post
    mmm the CSL's are gorgeous! would love one, but a bit too expensive still! but the noise from the carbon air box is epic, saving for a carbon box will be my main mod!
    the way you can steer with the throttle is incredible!

    that induction sound too!

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    ill have that all to learn, but ill get there
    the CSL is all about the induction sound, i won't go OEM on the carbon airbox as £5k is silly, ill get Evolve's with an Alpha N map as that as close as you can get for 'reasonable' money
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    Jungleman, thats a massive difference in insurance costs! Im going to have a look on gocompare and see what I can get the 2 insurance figures down to.
    Does the M3 need more servicing, or does it need more in depth servicing if you know what I mean? I will get servicing done at independant specialists rather than main dealers.
    Thanks for all the info guys, especially previous M3 owners inputs.
    It seems like a real heart (M3) vs. head (S3) decision. To be honest, Im steering towards S3. Still a good looking car, quattro, and the interior and build quality. I can also transfer my rns-e into it if it doesnt already have it.
    So whos going to let me drive their S3?

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    although id love an s3 if i had the choice id go for an m3 convertible with hard roof as it looks amazing and when u do get the chanc to take the roof off you wont regret it!

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    jungleman's Avatar
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    i know i was so shocked! thin the main diff was as my car is kept on the street and i have a crappy postcode, so all those went into massive quote jump

    don't think it really needs servicing more often, as i don't do a huge number of miles, i get mine done annually anyway including a full oil change, just because its a performance car so better safe then sorry. when i get the M3 i will use an indy too, or possibly a mate of a mate (ex BMW master tech and he worked on my mates Z3M coupe and he was the only guy he would trust with it)

    don't get me wrong the S3 is a staggering car, but not out of the box, it needs a couple choice modifications, and the quattro makes getting the power down in all conditions effortless, though mine will still spin the wheels on a damp road

    where about you based, can take you out in mine possibly
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    So the S3 out of the box is a good, but not great car? I would consider a remap, maybe from Motech as they are local, but I dont really like to modify cars too much. I will have to do some searching on here of S3 remap threads and see if it creates any problems.
    I am in the Midlands, Peterborough way. I think when its a bit warmer Im going to find an independant garage selling as S3 so I can have a good drive of it. When I bought the Focus ST I was given the keys and they just said come back in an hour, hopefully that happens again.

  26. #25
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    pretty much, its a very capable car, but a map will put it where it needs to be as a minimum. there generally aren't too many problems, but if you go manual, the clutch will go as they are made out of chocolate, a sachs unit will sort that out. apart from that an annual service with a fluid change, plug change and all will run sweet as a nut
    come back in an hour... serious, damn they are trusting up there!
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    I would test drive both standard to get an idea of what you want, I prefer NA cars because of the noise (M3 straight 6 and ITBs stock) Not only that the M3 is a amazing car to drive well balanced and a lot more driver involving. The only problem is because of my own personal needs i need a vehicle which is economical, affordable, quick and still good looking which is one of the reasons i have a turbo petrol a3.

    If you genuinely wanted a car to make you smile without fully needing the above that i need, my unbiased answer would be, go for the M3 because its a different environment to the A3 chassis. The M3 is still a very desirable car so if you decide a few months down the line you want to change you can do without losing much on it.

    In regards to pound for bhp the S3 is miles better, Interior will be alot nicer etc but i think if you want just an enjoyable car and want to experience something different the M3 has something the audi doesnt.
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    Road Tax on the M3 is more than double that of the S3 @ £440.
    S3 is below the £200 mark depending on what year you go for.
    The reason why most M3 owners are trying to get rid of their car
    is to buy a 335d which is just as much fun and an S3 destroyer in
    stock mode & especially when mapped.

  29. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by shady-ninja View Post
    Road Tax on the M3 is more than double that of the S3 @ £440.
    S3 is below the £200 mark depending on what year you go for.
    The reason why most M3 owners are trying to get rid of their car
    is to buy a 335d which is just as much fun and an S3 destroyer in
    stock mode & especially when mapped.
    very dependent on year, think if you get a pre 56 plate M3 the road tax is actually the same or only a few quid more then the S3
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    3.5 twin turbo alpina


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    I had a E46 M3 convertible,black with red leathers, SMG.
    Easily the best car ive owned.
    Im 26, 2yr NCB. paid £1300 insurance.
    M3s are VERY expensive to run, service, tyres everything!
    If you can justify the expenditures then i would say go for it. the noise it makes alone is worth it, puts a smile on your face everytime.

    Also it was only a summer car, in rain and snow it was terrible to control.
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    I have a mate with an m3 it's remapped and to be fair is damn quick car

    But absolutely pony in the wet

    When he goes out my s3 he also comments on how aggressive it feels being turbo
    They're a lot of car for the money I guess

    I also have a mate with a m5 v10 track toy
    And for me this would defo be the only Beemer me
    Last time he took me out in it I was shaking for like 20 minutes after but he has spent a fortune on it 610 bhp
    serious car and you can buy a standard one for about £16 k

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    the 335d is a 3.0 litre engine.
    its only given the 335d badge
    because its got two turbos.
    this looks like the petrol equivalent
    of the 335i with ALPINA CHILLIES.
    Quote Originally Posted by AARON77 View Post
    3.5 twin turbo alpina


  34. #33
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    I have an S3 and my best pal has an M3. Both pictured below.









    They are such different cars its hard to compare. I think Paolo (jungleman) Nailed it tbh.
    Gone but not forgotten......
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    3 - Phantom Black - Black Optics - Most Extras

    Mods: Revo Stage 2+ - 18" BBS ch/Michelin PS2 - Recaro OEM Buckets - Milltek TBE NonRes/Sports Cat - Evoms Intake - APR hpfp - H&R Springs/ARBS F&R - Sachs Clutch/Luk DMF - AP Racing 6 Pot BBK - 10mm Spacers - Black Rings
    Mods To Do: Full Retrim - MY11 RNSe - Coilovers- Plenty Carbon




  35. #34
    warren_S3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S3RYE View Post
    I have an S3 and my best pal has an M3. Both pictured below.

    Those rims on that style of M3
    If it was black it would tick all my boxes!
    Audi S3 Panther Black [2011] Build Thread
    Mods: Revo Stg2, Blueflame TBE, Eibach Pro springs, R8 oil cap

    On order: Audi S5 3.0V6T Coupe Black Edition, Phantom Black [Due 26 May 2014]

    Planned Mods: Revo Stg1+ with DSG map, Revo CAI, custom exhaust, H&R Trax spacers, EM Tuning LED interior lights, R8 oil cap, Porsche coolant & brake fluid cap

  36. #35
    S3RYE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by warren_S3 View Post
    Those rims on that style of M3
    If it was black it would tick all my boxes!
    I agree, i'd go as far as saying they're the best OEM wheel ever. His ones are the magnesium ones from the CSL too! shame it costs £600 to put new rubber on the rears!
    Gone but not forgotten......
    S
    3 - Phantom Black - Black Optics - Most Extras

    Mods: Revo Stage 2+ - 18" BBS ch/Michelin PS2 - Recaro OEM Buckets - Milltek TBE NonRes/Sports Cat - Evoms Intake - APR hpfp - H&R Springs/ARBS F&R - Sachs Clutch/Luk DMF - AP Racing 6 Pot BBK - 10mm Spacers - Black Rings
    Mods To Do: Full Retrim - MY11 RNSe - Coilovers- Plenty Carbon




  37. #36
    Ash B's Avatar
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    Got a friend at the minute who in the same position as you if im honest im kind of talking him out of the M3.
    Just for the fact of running and maintance costs are high, will show him this thread.


    Quote Originally Posted by S3RYE View Post
    I agree, i'd go as far as saying they're the best OEM wheel ever. His ones are the magnesium ones from the CSL too! shame it costs £600 to put new rubber on the rears!
    errrr thats expensive
    Dark Vader Half sibling - MyThread

  38. #37
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    what a badboy of a beema

  39. #38
    jungleman's Avatar
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    Rye why you have to go and put those pics up! Lol
    Really have to get round to putting my S3 up for sale so can get on with the switch!
    Ash! Your back! Yea rubber on the back isn't cheap, but when your running 19's regardless of the car it's always gonna hurt the bank, just have to be good and leave the DSC on haha!
    Factory: Phantom Black S3, BOSE, RNS-E, Adaptive Lights, Interior Lights, Auto Lights

    Added: Evolve Stage 2 Map, Evoms CAI, Milltek TBE Non-res With Special Tips Now At 360bhp & 385lb/ft, VWR 4 pots, H&R Springs, H&R Spacers, Sachs Clutch, '09 Rear Clusters, Pressed Metal Plates, TT Air Vents

    To Do list: Now that would be telling




    PM me for Weitec & KW coilovers

  40. #39
    Ash B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jungleman View Post
    Rye why you have to go and put those pics up! Lol
    Really have to get round to putting my S3 up for sale so can get on with the switch!
    Ash! Your back! Yea rubber on the back isn't cheap, but when your running 19's regardless of the car it's always gonna hurt the bank, just have to be good and leave the DSC on haha!

    I'm back and your back Yeah thats a good point. Lol i cant see you being good and leaving the DSC on!!!
    What colour you thinking of getting fella? When you looking to put your car up for sale?
    Dark Vader Half sibling - MyThread

  41. #40
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    CSL rims on silver look stunning, as they do with Carbon Black and Steel Grey.

    EVERYONE has to have an E46 M3 at some stage, even for six months!

    I had the best 12 months ever in mine, saw it there about month ago, looked mint and still has a better stance than the E92 M3

 

 
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