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Ultra expensive BMW E92 M3 GTS is only fractionally faster than older E46 M3 CSL

By Rigval on 24 Aug 2010

Attached Image: m3gts2.jpg

This piece of news is pretty interesting if you're a BMW M3 enthusiast. The people at Sport Auto magazine in Germany had recently published (in their September issue) their lap time results for their run around the Nurburgring and Hockenheim circuit for the BMW M3 GTS. The M3 GTS is a limited to 99 units Uber-M3 specified with bright orange paintwork, a half roll cage instead of rear seats, bespoke suspension and a 444bhp 4.4liter V8 instead of the usual 414bhp 4.0liter V8. The 99 people who bought the car coughed up $170,000 for what is considered to be the ultimate M3 that anyone could buy in this day and age.

Anyway, the Sport Auto people managed to make the M3 GTS lap the 'Ring with a time of 7minutes 48seconds. This 'unofficial' time is only 2seconds slower than a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera and a second slower than the mighty Ferrari 599GTB. It is however faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera S with full ceramic brakes, dual clutch gearbox, sport chrono plus kit and sticky Michelin Cup tires. Pretty impressive until you notice that the 2003-04 E46 M3 CSL (pictured below)lapped the same circuit in about 7minutes 50 seconds.

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They also tested the M3 GTS at Hockenheim, which is a a normal few kilometers long circuit unlike the epic 20 over kilometers long Nurburgring. Here, they found out that the M3 GTS does a lap time of 1minute 12.5seconds, which is only a second faster than the M3 CSL.

What we now can tell is that for $170,000, you get a car that is only a second or two faster than a car that is $70,000 cheaper. It also tells us that after 5 years of tuning and so called progress, the latest and most ultimate M3 is only 2 seconds faster than the older car.

444bhp over 360bhp and about 1,660kg over 1,385kg. When you get down to the details, the power to weight ratio of the GTS is 267bhp/ton compared to 264bhp per ton. So the extra power has been negated by the weight in the GTS. The one or two seconds gained must have been from handling improvements instead of actual power gain over the older car.

Whatever it is, the $70,000 extra that someone had to fork out over the older car isn't that justified. So much for actual progress, it seems the older car could still be the best M3 ever made. So if anyone is interested in getting the ultimate M3, the E46 M3 CSL could still be the one to get.

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Source and main pic:bimmerpost/m3postvia jalopnik

BMW, M3 CSL, M3 GTS, M3, CSL and 2 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

  • 1
Lammy84 Aug 24 2010 05:00 PM
2 seconds is an eternity in motor sports...
Rigval Aug 24 2010 09:14 PM
Agreed, after 10 laps it would mean that the older car is about 20seconds behind.

But when you look at it from a value for money/bang per buck point of view, the newer GTS isn't. For example, the 2010 911 turbo 3.8 lapped its 08/09 predecessor, a 3.6 turbo by about 10 seconds at the 'Ring. That improvement is substantial.

Lammy84 Aug 24 2010 09:47 PM
True that,but it says nothing about the comfort and daily drivability of the car too. Truth to be told, people who take the M3 over a proper midship performance car value practicality almost as much as performance.

Hard to compare like that.
Qr25vet Aug 25 2010 12:07 AM
I bet if the CSL was just tuned up by a wee bit that'd even the odds...remember its engine is somewhat handcapped when u compare to the monsterous V8 of the GTS...esp in the nurburgring where the final section is a super long straight were outright power really matters...and i'm guessing that in the 1st and final section before the long straight,is where the CSL really can outpace the GTS
Rigval Aug 25 2010 08:58 PM
but when you make the M3 into a GTS, it loses a lot of practicality. Half cage in place of the rear seats is as hardcore as a GT3.
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