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      06-25-2019, 03:30 AM   #1
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M Town Tour - Impressions, disappointments, and surprises

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I was able to attend a M Town event near me today! Overall a short but fun event if you want to test drive the current M lineup shotgun style.



The advertised lineup was:

M340i
M850i
X3M Competition
M5 Competition
M2 Competition


I took some photos and came away with some very surprising impressions including some disappointments!

Background:

I currently drive an F80 M3 CS and an i3 REx. I also used to own an F30 328i, F30 340i, and an F80 M3. I attended this even mainly to get a good feel for the M340i since it will be a good indication on what the G80 M3/4 might be. The M2 Competition was also on my radar. I also really love how the M850i looks both inside and out.


Arrival:

I checked in at a table in the lobby easily enough. They confirmed my reservation for the M340i and X3M Competition. I was waitlisted for the M5 Competition, M850i, and M2 Competition. No matter, since most people don't show up despite making a reservation I was able to drive all of them with little to no wait time. My reserved time didn't matter too much either, I was just shoved into a car and sent off as soon as I walked up!

The Route:

The route was programmed on the NAV for us to follow. It consisted of a 3 mile loop around the local area. No freeways, no backroads, no parking lot autocross courses. Just city driving. There were a few straights to open up, but nothing crazy. I was alone in each car save for the M850i, in which I had a representative ride along to make sure I didn't do anything irresponsible,


First drive: M340i






The exterior styling has grown on me. I like it. I think the rear looks great, Lexus lights and all. The grill is a bit shocking, I still prefer the vertical slats, but over time it will be fine.

Driving the M340i was very important to me. I wanted to see how the new G20 platform performs. How will it compare to the F80 platform? Being an M340i instead of a 340i I figured it might be even closer to the G80 M3/4 will be.

Well, it is a definite improvement over my old F30 340i. Faster, more refined, solid. The X-Drive and extra power helps a lot. The burbles are much louder, and it's overall a nicer place to sit in. However, there is a strong distinction between the true M cars like the M5, M2, and X3M, and the M performance models like the M340i and the M850i. More on that later.





The interior is clean, but admittedly boring. Maybe because it is black and there isn't a lot of textures. It's different than the outgoing F30/80, which some people might see as an improvement. To me it just looks different.



The iDrive integration into the dash is much nicer than in the F30/80. It now flows as its own element out of the dash, but still cohesive.



The instrument cluster is fine. It's a huge improvement over the awkward in-between phase over the digital dash on the newer F30's. Overall it works well, but I need more seat time to make a better conclusion. The flopped RPM gauge doesn't bother me. The HUD is much improved, and now includes a tachometer, although it's much smaller than even the F80's tachometer and the ones in the M5 and X3M.

M340i HUD:


M5 Competition HUD:


X3M Competition HUD:



I found a keycard in the glovebox. I'd love to not have to carry a fob.





The M5 Competition: A RETURN to form!















The interior is understandably nicer in the M5 over the M340i, commensurate with price. The flat carbon fiber weave looks great and the mode toggles for suspension, chassis, and steering for a true M car look great. The red M1 and M2 buttons are a very nice touch on the steering wheel. Don't tell them, but I was able to find a way to switch the car to 2WD mode! DSC has to be completely off, so I don't think that was encouraged. In fact, it was for VERY good reason, if not for the M5, but for another car in the lineup. Again, more on that later...












WOW, what a machine. Such a beast! It's big, it's fast, it's loud! It's scary! It's no V10, but it still a brute. I've dragged raced an M5 Competition at the M Track Day, so it was no surprise.



Never Meet Your Heros



The M850i wasn't the most disappointing aspect of the day, and I wouldn't necessarily say it was a bad car, or that BMW made a mistake with it. I think I expected something different. I love the styling, it screams speed. My biggest gripe was how SOFT it felt. Like the M5, it was fast, and it was big, but unlike the M5, it also FELT big. Maybe I was expecting too much from the M badge. Even in Sport + the suspension was way too soft and I cold feel all the mass and weight even in the most pedestrian of maneuvers. I wanted so much to love the car, and in a way I still do, but for not the reasons I wanted to love it.
It wasn't the sports car disguised as a grand touring convertible, it's a grand tourer with sporty appointments. But what a grand tourer! The interior, at least to me, is spectacular. I still think it's a great looking car. Perhaps being the only car that required a chaperone really hurt the driving experience. I'm willing to give it another chance with a real test drive, but I was kind of disappointed. Still, it wasn't the most disappointing thing about this day, but more on that later.


















The X3M Competition Surprised Me in EVERY Way








I was never a huge fan of the X3M Competition. I liked the X3 as a utility vehicle, but it never excited me. I scoffed at the idea of a "Competition" model-since when is an X3 going to compete in any type of road race anyway?! It's for groceries and kid hauling. Boy was I wrong. This is a true M car/SAV. I was throughly impressed not only by the driving characteristics, which was much more fun than the M340i by the way, but the interior as well. The M340i interior is boring in comparison. Why can't the flagship 3 series have the nice quilted two-tone interior of the X3M? Is it even an option? You can get this type of attention to detail in a $35k Hyundai nowadays, there is simply no excuse anymore. I'd argue that he X3M seats are as nice or nicer than the M850i. The alcantera bolsters work really well to keep you in place, it's something I wish my M3 CS had.


















The M5 and X3M Competition have identical instrument clusters and steering wheel. I guess consistency has it's place, but for how much the M5 Competition costs, I'd expect some distinction.

X3M Competition:




M5 Competitoin:







The BIGGEST Disappointment of the day: The M2 Competition






Before you crucify me, hear me out. The M2 Competition was the biggest disappointment because it actually wasn't there. It got totaled earlier in the tour when someone turned off DSC and decided to wrap it around a tree. Instead, I got to drive a vanilla M2:




I have driven an M2 on the track extensively over the course of the years attending the 2 Day M School, 1 Day M School, and M Track Day pushing the M2 to the absolute limit and so far beyond that DSC has surely saved me more than a few times. I had a very low interest in going out on a city street with traffic and speed limits, but I decided to take it out nonetheless.





The digital display looked even more archaic and awkward after witnessing the updated versions in the X340i and M5 Competition, but something very very surprising happened on my 3 mile loop: I had a lot of fun. In fact, I had more fun in the vanilla M2 than in any of the other cars that day, including the M850i that I needed a chaperone for! The interior was boring and cheap by comparison, the pedal placement was strange, the instrument cluster was ugly, but damn, what a car! I still prefer the DCT over all the fancy ZF8s in the other cars, I don't care how you tune it. There is a reason the M2 is considered one of the purest and most fun current M cars, and I really do agree.

In the end the X3M and M2 proved to be the real stand-outs in this company. I'm not sure what that says about the upcoming G80 or where BMW is headed. Time will tell.
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Last edited by jmg; 06-25-2019 at 01:21 PM..
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      06-25-2019, 07:14 AM   #2
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Wow - Great pictures and informed perspective; definitely interested in attending an event like this one. Thanks for posting!
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      06-25-2019, 07:36 AM   #3
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Wow, what a fun event to attend. I think the X3M is more of an accurate preview of what's to come in the G80 due to the drivetrain, and to see how impressive the latest M car is. And, besides the driving dynamics, the M division has a LOT of work to do on that 3 series interior to make it worthy of the hefty price tag it will no doubt carry.

Your disappointments with the M850i may be due to the fact that it was a convertible and...an M car in badge only

Finally, someone wrapped the M2C around a tree? These events might not be around for too long if that's the case.
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      06-25-2019, 12:32 PM   #4
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M2C was missing from SRQ this past Thursday event too. X3m was the surprise; a lot of motor in that thing. Like the dash it and m5 share... want the HUD more than anything in the M2C though.
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      06-25-2019, 03:05 PM   #5
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Great write up and yeah, they wrecked the M2C at the event I attended in Ontario, CA. 2 hours before I arrived. What a bummer. The tree is still there with a big chunk out of it.
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      06-25-2019, 03:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F30ZHP View Post
Great write up and yeah, they wrecked the M2C at the event I attended in Ontario, CA. 2 hours before I arrived. What a bummer. The tree is still there with a big chunk out of it.
Any info on the driver? Overconfident?
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      06-25-2019, 03:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmg View Post
Any info on the driver? Overconfident?
So I got the longer story when I went with my buddy over the weekend to test drive a used F10 535i they had on the lot. Apparently, everyone who attended the event was driving like a jackass, going 100mph plus on side streets, not following the route (one guy was gone with a car for 30 minutes. Said he was lost ) and putting pedestrians in danger.

The guy who wrecked the M2C had DSC turned off and lost control in a right hand corner, then slid it 100 feet into the tree. Walked away with only a scratch but totaled the car. The salesman showed me a pic of the wreck...It was definitely totaled.
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      06-25-2019, 04:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F30ZHP View Post
So I got the longer story when I went with my buddy over the weekend to test drive a used F10 535i they had on the lot. Apparently, everyone who attended the event was driving like a jackass, going 100mph plus on side streets, not following the route (one guy was gone with a car for 30 minutes. Said he was lost ) and putting pedestrians in danger.

The guy who wrecked the M2C had DSC turned off and lost control in a right hand corner, then slid it 100 feet into the tree. Walked away with only a scratch but totaled the car. The salesman showed me a pic of the wreck...It was definitely totaled.
BMW is stupid for having these events on the public roads, they just need to keep it to the parking lots with autocross or I guess have a rep in every car, since people don't know how to behave.
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      06-26-2019, 10:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmg View Post
I was able to attend a M Town event near me today! Overall a short but fun event if you want to test drive the current M lineup shotgun style.

[img]https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...f1e94e5a_c.jpg[/img]

The advertised lineup was:

M340i
M850i
X3M Competition
M5 Competition
M2 Competition.....Time will tell.
What a great review Thank You for all the time and detail you put into it!
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      06-26-2019, 10:36 AM   #10
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I so agree with you on the NEVER MEET YOUR HEREOS. Great perspective and article. Thank you.
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      06-26-2019, 10:37 AM   #11
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Thanks for the write up! My event isn't until August, but I plan on driving every vehicle available
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      06-26-2019, 10:37 AM   #12
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Thanks for the review...


It's good for all bimwads to check these events out and have an evening checking out the new toys. It's like making that occasional visit to the Apple store, but in this case you have a lot more fun, and you generally get some free scwhag.

Very happy to hear that the M2 and the X3M captured your imagination most... which actually supports my own shopping interests.

Somewhat oddly, I'm tempted by the M2 CS vs an X3M.. and very interesting to hear that the X3M was more fun than the M340i.


Thanks for the excellent photos of the HUD and displays in each model.

I do not share the opinion that the M5 competition steering wheel/HUD needs to be " extra" over the M3 competition simply due to price tag. They are both top level items in the lineup and should both have the top level equipment.
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      06-26-2019, 10:51 AM   #13
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I went to the event as well and was a great opportunity for me to taste the current BMW M lineup.

M2 Comp is by far my favorite M car to date (I currently own an E46 M3 as a weekend car)
M2C is THE CAR to get in my opinion. I felt so connected with this car, the steering feel, acceleration, cornering and the sound!
This car feels just like an E46 M3 but improved in every way.
True presentation of a modern E46 M3. Awesome x10!

M5 Comp on the other hand felt like a boat compare to an M2C.
I prefer 2WD mode over 4WD.
2WD definitely felt more livelier, 4WD ruined the steering feel for me
Kind of disappointed how the car felt overall.
Very nice car nonetheless.

Now to the M340i..
The car felt very refined and was pretty fast.
Interior was nice but I really didn't like how the gauges were layed out. I much prefer M5/X3M style.
Although this car is considered as an M car (according the BMW marketing), to me it isn't.
This car does not drive like an M car.
It's a great daily fast car IMO.
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Last edited by Mrgunfun; 06-26-2019 at 11:00 AM..
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      06-26-2019, 10:54 AM   #14
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I hate those fake bumper exhaust tips
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      06-26-2019, 10:54 AM   #15
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I had to cancel my appointment yesterday. :-(
Thanks for the feedback. I really wanted to drive the M340.
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      06-26-2019, 10:57 AM   #16
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Great write up!

I attended the event over the weekend and got to drive the M5 and M340i. The M5 was very fast, but not the brutal acceleration I was expecting. Basically no drama in the experience - just speed and competence. The M340i was a good drive if a little dull as well. I really dislike the new gauges, but I'm sure they'd grow on me eventually. Both cars felt very solid, but the M340i wasn't the "return to the old BMW" that some of the journalists have been touting.
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      06-26-2019, 11:15 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IllSic_Design View Post
BMW is stupid for having these events on the public roads, they just need to keep it to the parking lots with autocross or I guess have a rep in every car, since people don't know how to behave.
I agree it's always those F N idiot.
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      06-26-2019, 11:18 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F30ZHP View Post
Great write up and yeah, they wrecked the M2C at the event I attended in Ontario, CA. 2 hours before I arrived. What a bummer. The tree is still there with a big chunk out of it.
Do you know if there's any personal financial consequence for that idiot that wrecked the M2C?
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      06-26-2019, 11:35 AM   #19
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I agree with your assessment of the M850i steering feel. My wife has one and as much as we love it, I am also surprised that in Sport and Sport+ that the steering and suspension doesn't really stiffen up much at all like it had in our other M-Sport cars including my current X5 35d
Again, love the car, just an observation.
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      06-26-2019, 11:39 AM   #20
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Fantastic thread, thank you for sharing!
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      06-26-2019, 11:43 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by khanyam4 View Post
Do you know if there's any personal financial consequence for that idiot that wrecked the M2C?
Was wondering this as well. There has to some liability for this right? You can't just walk away from that....can you?
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      06-26-2019, 11:43 AM   #22
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This event is happening this Saturday near me. For some reason I thought you had to pay but looks like it is free. Hoping I can get into an M5 competition.
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