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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having a difficult time deciding whether or not to get an M3 or a BRZ. I currently have an E46 325i and I really love it. However, it's time for me to start looking for a new car.

I always really wanted an E46 M3 but could never afford one, which is why I got a 3 series. Now that depreciation has taken place, would it be a good idea to buy one with 140,000 km? Or should I buy a BRZ with 20,000 km?

My friends (who all have Subarus) are trying to convince me that the BRZ is superior that it doesn't even come close to an "old" E46. I feel that their opinion is biased, which is why I came here for advice. Anyone here ever owned a BRZ?
I will be daily driving this car, so reliability is a factor. Is it a lot worse than a 3 series with 300,000 km? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
 

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Just as your subaru friends are biased to say brz, most here are probably biased to say e46 m3.

I say m3:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just as your subaru friends are biased to say brz, most here are probably biased to say e46 m3.

I say m3:D
Well as a BMW guy.. I'm trying to biasedly convince myself to get a M3 lol. But my friends can sadly be really convincing. I guess I'll just have to test drive them both and go from there.
 

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They just don't want you to get the m3 cause then they'll be jealous:rofl:

But from a maintenance standpoint, usually a newer car will need less maintenance than a 12+ year old car. I've never owned either the m3 or brz so can't speak from experience on that though.
 

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It seems that you and your friends are car guys so I'll say this. If you are comfortable tearing your car apart to do some dirty maintenance work (once or twice a year I'll say), get the M3. You have this forum that are full of people willing to help. If not, and you want something more reliable albeit not as fast, then get the BRZ. Trust me, with the M3 some of your friends will still drool over it.
 

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I can speak from experience about driving both the FR-S / BRZ / GT86 and the E46 M3. I've driven the 6 speed FR-S and been on rides in my friend's turbocharged BRZ, and driven both SMG and 6 speed E46 M3's now, plus I've rode along in more M3's than I can count.

You're talking about two entirely different cars comparing these two - yes, price point is roughly the same for good examples of both, and they're both small-ish N/A cars but that's about where the similarities stop.

Starting with the '86 - you're looking at a small (yes, very small) ~2800 lbs car with a 2.0L H4, that quite honestly isn't very fast. It's actually slower than my stock auto 330Ci in a straight line. :thumbdwn: I'm assuming that we're talking stock for stock right now, but I'll mention modified examples in a second. The stock 86 is a great fun car, despite the lack of straight line speed. I enjoyed driving the FR-S, although I found the shifter quite notchy which I didn't care for coming from a bunch of smooth BMW shifters. The cabin is comfortable enough (ignoring some cheap-feeling plastics and fabrics) in the driver's or passenger's seat, but the low seating position and high doors can feel like you're sitting in a bowl, and the rear seat is practically unusable. I think Toyota put that seat in there just to say "Hey, we made a four seater coupe!" when in reality it's got the cabin space of most modern roadsters. If you're looking at a daily driver and ever have more than you and one passenger, the 86 might not be practical for you.

On to the E46 M3 - you're getting a bigger, heavier (~3400lbs) coupe with its 3.2L I6 motor. Revs higher and makes over 130 more horses than the Toyota does. Acceleration is very linear and the power comes on quite smooth, except for shifting at full throttle (especially in the SMG, it makes for an incredibly jerky yet fun experience) and is a much faster car. If you care about 0-60 times, just for comparisons sake, the ///M (coupe, not vert) will do low 5's with a good driver, while the Toyota might do low 7's with a good driver. Driving the E46 is an entirely different experience than the 86. You're driving a car with just as much, if not more grip (assuming nice summer tires) and a lot more speed. Stock for stock, the ///M is the much nicer car in just about every way. In the cabin, you get much more space with nicer materials (i.e nappa leather, solid vinyl dash/door cards and interior plastics) with minimal creaks and a much more refined experience in terms of road feel and noise. Plus, you get a usable back seat, and the car is much easier to climb in and out of (back seats). You have to keep in mind that in 2001, the ///M was a ~$55,000 car while the BRZ is a $25,000 car today. Even though the E46 is over 15 years old now, you're still paying for that luxury that you just don't get in the Toyota.

The big difference here comes when you want to modify the cars and you talk about maintenance. Maintenance costs will almost certainly be lower on a brand-new or lightly used Japanese car than a 15 year old German car. Now, that isn't to say that the E46 is unreliable in any way, but it has its proven weak points that may be worth considering in your purchase. Most repair costs will probably cost the same for both cars, although there is some additional routine maintenance required for the ///M, such as valve adjustments for the S54 every 15 to 20K miles and lower OCI's with oil that is harder to come by (Castrol Edge TWS 10W60) although that isn't a problem if you're an enthusiast like many of us are here on Fanatics. If you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty a few times a year, the E46 is the car for you. You'll save lots of money that way and learn new things about your car all the time.

With the BRZ, I can't speak too much for maintenance, but it is a much newer car that will have a lower probability of something going wrong with it. The H4 seems like it would be harder to do some things on (maybe replacing spark plugs, valve covers) while the I6 in the BMW is much easier to access and work on. I don't have much experience in the engine bay of an ///M, but the S54 is similar enough to an M54 that I can guarantee it isn't too hard to work on. Regardless, the BRZ will probably be easier on the wallet just since it's a newer car with the reliability record of a Toyota.

Okay, so, the fun question - what's the modified car like? I can't speak for a boosted M3 from personal experience, but I know they're quick. Safely boosting an ///M is going to be harder and costlier than boosting an '86. And the boosted '86 is quick. Of course, you're still getting two different experiences in these cars when they're modded, but I think with the popularity of the 86's now these cars have a lot more potential for track and performance improvements than the M3 has.

So, I'm not going to tell you which car to buy, but if I was making the choice I would buy the M3. For me, I prefer the experience of the chassis and styling that I'm already accustomed to with my 330Ci just dialed up to 11 instead. The E46 has a special place in my heart since it's introduced me to being an enthusiast, and if your E46 has done the same for you then maybe the M3 is the right car for you. If you choose the BRZ, you'll have a great car too. If you want something on par with the ///M, then you'll have to put some money and work into your ownership for sure, but either way you'll have a great car. :thumbup:
 

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I always really wanted an E46 M3 but could never afford one, which is why I got a 3 series. Now that depreciation has taken place, would it be a good idea to buy one with 140,000 km? Or should I buy a BRZ with 20,000 km?
Initial cost of an M3 isn't what you have to worry about. It's ownership cost. You said reliability is a concern. Get the BRZ instead of the M3 you can "afford".
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I can speak from experience about driving both the FR-S / BRZ / GT86 and the E46 M3. I've driven the 6 speed FR-S and been on rides in my friend's turbocharged BRZ, and driven both SMG and 6 speed E46 M3's now, plus I've rode along in more M3's than I can count.

You're talking about two entirely different cars comparing these two - yes, price point is roughly the same for good examples of both, and they're both small-ish N/A cars but that's about where the similarities stop.

Starting with the '86 - you're looking at a small (yes, very small) ~2800 lbs car with a 2.0L H4, that quite honestly isn't very fast. It's actually slower than my stock auto 330Ci in a straight line. :thumbdwn: I'm assuming that we're talking stock for stock right now, but I'll mention modified examples in a second. The stock 86 is a great fun car, despite the lack of straight line speed. I enjoyed driving the FR-S, although I found the shifter quite notchy which I didn't care for coming from a bunch of smooth BMW shifters. The cabin is comfortable enough (ignoring some cheap-feeling plastics and fabrics) in the driver's or passenger's seat, but the low seating position and high doors can feel like you're sitting in a bowl, and the rear seat is practically unusable. I think Toyota put that seat in there just to say "Hey, we made a four seater coupe!" when in reality it's got the cabin space of most modern roadsters. If you're looking at a daily driver and ever have more than you and one passenger, the 86 might not be practical for you.

On to the E46 M3 - you're getting a bigger, heavier (~3400lbs) coupe with its 3.2L I6 motor. Revs higher and makes over 130 more horses than the Toyota does. Acceleration is very linear and the power comes on quite smooth, except for shifting at full throttle (especially in the SMG, it makes for an incredibly jerky yet fun experience) and is a much faster car. If you care about 0-60 times, just for comparisons sake, the ///M (coupe, not vert) will do low 5's with a good driver, while the Toyota might do low 7's with a good driver. Driving the E46 is an entirely different experience than the 86. You're driving a car with just as much, if not more grip (assuming nice summer tires) and a lot more speed. Stock for stock, the ///M is the much nicer car in just about every way. In the cabin, you get much more space with nicer materials (i.e nappa leather, solid vinyl dash/door cards and interior plastics) with minimal creaks and a much more refined experience in terms of road feel and noise. Plus, you get a usable back seat, and the car is much easier to climb in and out of (back seats). You have to keep in mind that in 2001, the ///M was a ~$55,000 car while the BRZ is a $25,000 car today. Even though the E46 is over 15 years old now, you're still paying for that luxury that you just don't get in the Toyota.

The big difference here comes when you want to modify the cars and you talk about maintenance. Maintenance costs will almost certainly be lower on a brand-new or lightly used Japanese car than a 15 year old German car. Now, that isn't to say that the E46 is unreliable in any way, but it has its proven weak points that may be worth considering in your purchase. Most repair costs will probably cost the same for both cars, although there is some additional routine maintenance required for the ///M, such as valve adjustments for the S54 every 15 to 20K miles and lower OCI's with oil that is harder to come by (Castrol Edge TWS 10W60) although that isn't a problem if you're an enthusiast like many of us are here on Fanatics. If you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty a few times a year, the E46 is the car for you. You'll save lots of money that way and learn new things about your car all the time.

With the BRZ, I can't speak too much for maintenance, but it is a much newer car that will have a lower probability of something going wrong with it. The H4 seems like it would be harder to do some things on (maybe replacing spark plugs, valve covers) while the I6 in the BMW is much easier to access and work on. I don't have much experience in the engine bay of an ///M, but the S54 is similar enough to an M54 that I can guarantee it isn't too hard to work on. Regardless, the BRZ will probably be easier on the wallet just since it's a newer car with the reliability record of a Toyota.

Okay, so, the fun question - what's the modified car like? I can't speak for a boosted M3 from personal experience, but I know they're quick. Safely boosting an ///M is going to be harder and costlier than boosting an '86. And the boosted '86 is quick. Of course, you're still getting two different experiences in these cars when they're modded, but I think with the popularity of the 86's now these cars have a lot more potential for track and performance improvements than the M3 has.

So, I'm not going to tell you which car to buy, but if I was making the choice I would buy the M3. For me, I prefer the experience of the chassis and styling that I'm already accustomed to with my 330Ci just dialed up to 11 instead. The E46 has a special place in my heart since it's introduced me to being an enthusiast, and if your E46 has done the same for you then maybe the M3 is the right car for you. If you choose the BRZ, you'll have a great car too. If you want something on par with the ///M, then you'll have to put some money and work into your ownership for sure, but either way you'll have a great car. :thumbup:
Thank you for the very detailed writeup! Really helped to narrow down my mind. Are E46 M3's really that unreliable though? I only drive about 12,000km a year. I've heard stories about people paying +15k per year for maintenance repairs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Initial cost of an M3 isn't what you have to worry about. It's ownership cost. You said reliability is a concern. Get the BRZ instead of the M3 you can "afford".
It's not really the fact that I can't afford. I just don't want to have to deal with a new problem every week. Which is whats happening now to my 325i with 328,000 km :/
 

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Normal maintenance isn't bad, but the M3 is a diva... as mentioned, requires valve adjustments (tappets) and the special 10w60, then wait till you have to start chasing vacuum leaks.... I would only have a M3 as a garage queen, not a daily...
 
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