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    • AutoExpress compares the F22 M235i to the E46 M3 CSL around the track

      The new F22 M235i is generally receiving praise for the way it drives and feels. BMW's are gaining a lot of weight and are pretty heavy cars these days. With all that mass being moved by turbocharged engines they are not exactly the track cars they once were. Speaking of the track cars they once were, the E46 M3 CSL is about the best example of BMW's past philosophy while the M235i is a representation of the modern BMW.


      AutoExpress being based in the UK gets the benefit of having the E46 M3 CSL and F22 M235i available to them. BMW did not bring the E46 M3 CSL to the United States because they will only bring us cars with a fat margin to pad their bottom line using the United States as a money tree. Certifying the E46 M3 and even the E92 M3 GTS models for the US would have required going through US regulations which have cost money for crash testing and BMW would rather keep the change than reward its number one market. If this comes off as bitter you came to the right conclusion.

      BMW is selling the F22 M235i in the United States though and in comparisons with the CLA45 AMG it so far has shown it is the car that is more fun to drive. The M235i at least somewhat gets back to the formula of a balanced and affordable rear wheel drive BMW that puts a smile on your face when you are behind the wheel. However, it is no E46 M3 CSL and it is not deserving of such a lofty comparison to one of the best driver's cars BMW has ever built. Especially considering the M235i is not even a real M car and it does not even come with a limited slip differential as standard.

      Regardless, Auto Express decided to do such a comparison. The M235i is 187 pounds heavier than the E46 M3 CSL. As far as power, the 3.0 liter N55 turbocharged and direct injected inline-6 is rated at 320 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. Compare this to the E46 M3 CSL 3.2 liter S54 naturally aspirated inline-6 with 355 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. That is just about 111 horsepower per liter or the highest naturally aspirated specific output of any naturally aspirated production engine in BMW's history.

      The E46 M3 CSL has SMG (sequential manual gearbox) standard with no manual option. This particular M235i is a 6-speed manual. AutoExpress takes the CSL around the track first and while the the driver is talking to the camera the whole time he manages a 1:13.50 lap time.

      The M235i looks more tail happy during its lap and the driver remarks that it feels heavier and slower. Yet, the result is the exact same 1:13.50 lap time. How is this possible? It shouldn't be. The E46 M3 CSL does a 7:50 Nurburgring lap time. This driver achieves the same lap but considering he is not a professional driver and the timing is done while he is speaking to the camera during the test laps it is hard to take this seriously.

      Regardless, the M235i is at least BMW somewhat getting back to making driver's cars. Amidst the sea of X3's, X4's, X5's, X6's, X7's, i3's, i8's, Active Tourer's, and GT's, BMW has at least one car in the lineup that is still fun to drive. It just is nowhere near the driver's car that decade old E46 M3 CSL is though.

      This article was originally published in forum thread: AutoExpress compares the F22 M235i to the E46 M3 CSL around the track started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 18 Comments
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        I saw this the other day... I feel like this had some bias in favor of the 2 series. He admitted to not braking as hard in the e46 which will cost a huge amount of time on the track, and that leads me to believe that he did not push it as hard in general. Also the tires that were on the csl for this test are not the standard semi slicks it comes with (im not sure what exact tire this one is running). The 2 series has a tq advantage but the csl is lighter and if kept high in the rev range it should be able to overcome that disadvantage. I just find it hard to believe that they had the same exact lap time (he did not give any numbers at all for that matter). I think this is just bmw saying, "Hey Look we are still making the ultimate driving machines! Our near entry level 2 series with m-sport package is just as fast as one of the most hard core M models ever made."
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        There is no freaking way the M235i can lap as quickly as an E46 M3 CSL. You're telling me the M235i is faster than the 1M which does an 8:15 around the ring? Come on.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Seriously, Auto Express just flat out sucks.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        There is no freaking way the M235i can lap as quickly as an E46 M3 CSL. You're telling me the M235i is faster than the 1M which does an 8:15 around the ring? Come on.
        on a short, low speed track with tight curves I would not be surprised if it came really close to the csl just because it makes a good bit more tq so I imagine it can accelerate out of turns faster. Having said that the csl is lighter, has a better diff (limited slip vs open) and the smg may not be the fastest but I am sure its faster than a manual so it really should have come out on time
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        on a short, low speed track with tight curves I would not be surprised if it came really close to the csl just because it makes a good bit more tq
        The turbo lag, great weight, and lack of an LSD are helping it somehow?
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        The turbo lag, great weight, and lack of an LSD are helping it somehow?
        BMW has almost killed turbo lag I would almost say its a non factor at this point. The csl has a curb weight of 3047lbs and 274tq (http://fastestlaps.com/cars/bmw_m3_csl_e46.html). The 235i comes in around 3500 with 330tq that comes on @1300rpm (http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...t-drive-review). So even though the csl has a VERY small advantage in terms of tq/weight ratio the 235i hits full tq well before the csl and on a small tight track when you have two cars with a very similar power to weight ratio the one that can put the most down first will win.


        Just to be clear I am playing devils advocate.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        BMW has almost killed turbo lag I would almost say its a non factor at this point
        Come on, it's a factor.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        So even though the csl has a VERY small advantage in terms of tq/weight ratio the 235i hits full tq well before the csl and on a small tight track when you have two cars with a very similar power to weight ratio the one that can put the most down first will win.
        The CSL is geared far more aggressively. The crank torque doesn't really mean all that much especially on the track when you aren't sitting there at 1300 rpm.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        Just to be clear I am playing devils advocate.
        That's fine but it's honestly impossible for heavier and less powerful car without a limited slip and without as aggressive of a suspension setup to somehow lap the same. I mean like I said the M235i isn't quicker than the 1M around the track and the CSL spanks the 1M.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Come on, it's a factor.
        The CSL is geared far more aggressively. The crank torque doesn't really mean all that much especially on the track when you aren't sitting there at 1300 rpm.
        That's fine but it's honestly impossible for heavier and less powerful car without a limited slip and without as aggressive of a suspension setup to somehow lap the same. I mean like I said the M235i isn't quicker than the 1M around the track and the CSL spanks the 1M.
        Meh

        Yeah the csl has more aggressive gearing, but you wouldn't drive the 235 like the csl. The csl has to be wound out where as the 235 makes peak power almost immediately. So even though its down a little on power to weight ratio on a small track its all about how puts the power down first and here it was the 235 (this guy clearly was not driving the csl the way it was meant to be driven)


        The 235 is down on peak hp but like I said before it has more tq and it comes on earlier. As far as suspension goes my hats off to BMW they know how to dial in the suspension. Back when the e92 335 came out edmunds did a test comparing the e46 m3 (non csl), 335, and 135. Even tough m3 had tighter suspension the 3/135 were able to match it in the slalom and the m3 just barely won out on the track. That just leaves the lsd which I have no answer for lol... I read somewhere that the m235 has an option for a lsd, if thats true maybe this one had one?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        The csl has to be wound out where as the 235 makes peak power almost immediately. So even though its down a little on power to weight ratio on a small track its all about how puts the power down first and here it was the 235 (this guy clearly was not driving the csl the way it was meant to be driven)
        The S54 has a pretty flat torque curve. I seriously doubt either of these cars are very low RPM anyway on the track or what is the driver doing? It's been demonstrated time and time again by the S54, S65, etc., do much better on the roadcourse. They actually are race bred motors. The N55's torque doesn't mean much of anything versus an 8000 rpm redline and better power to weight ratio.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        The 235 is down on peak hp but like I said before it has more tq and it comes on earlier
        And ends earlier.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        I read somewhere that the m235 has an option for a lsd, if thats true maybe this one had one?
        M Performance is supposed to supply one but that is my point. This heavier and less powerful car without an LSD is not matching one of the best track cars BMW ever made. It's a physical impossibility.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        The S54 has a pretty flat torque curve. I seriously doubt either of these cars are very low RPM anyway on the track or what is the driver doing? It's been demonstrated time and time again by the S54, S65, etc., do much better on the roadcourse. They actually are race bred motors. The N55's torque doesn't mean much of anything versus an 8000 rpm redline and better power to weight ratio.
        And ends earlier.
        M Performance is supposed to supply one but that is my point. This heavier and less powerful car without an LSD is not matching one of the best track cars BMW ever made. It's a physical impossibility.
        Honestly the tq SUCKS on the s54 lol I drive one everyday and can guarantee that if its a tq battle the n55 will win. Going back to the whole small track thing there's not really any room to rev it out so there goes that advantage. That's why e46 m3's are so bad at autocross, they need room to really open up and get going. A track like this is almost like driving in stop and go traffic where the n55 would win out. If they were on a real track that let the s54 really open up and use that 8000 rpm it wouldn't be close. Lets not forget that it doesn't even make full power until redline so to say it has a hp advantage isn't really the case if you have to slow down and constantly down shift for every turn. The n55 is right at home on a small track like this (until it overheats after 3 laps).
        Yeah it ends earlier, but there is no need to rev it out that far on this track

        No argument there that is why I said in my first comment the was 235 bias. The csl never stood a chance in this test. The 235 was clearly driven harder and I wouldn't doubt if this kind of track was chosen specifically for the 235
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Why are you changing the text colors? It's really annoying to read.

        The torque doesn't suck on the S54 at all and it really doesn't matter because its revving much higher and geared more aggressively. The N55 torque is nice when driving around and getting groceries but its meaningless on the track where the S54 is sitting at 6k+ all day.

        I mean, what, the 911 GT3 is losing the torquier 911 Turbo around the track?

        Stop and go traffic? That doesn't even make any sense. You're on the track. If it's tight that favors an LSD and lighter weight. What does the torque even matter if you can't put it down without the ass end going everywhere?

        The CSL laps the 'ring in 7:50. This is 25 seconds quicker than the 1M which is quicker than this. It's no comparison.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Why are you changing the text colors? It's really annoying to read.

        The torque doesn't suck on the S54 at all and it really doesn't matter because its revving much higher and geared more aggressively. The N55 torque is nice when driving around and getting groceries but its meaningless on the track where the S54 is sitting at 6k+ all day.

        I mean, what, the 911 GT3 is losing the torquier 911 Turbo around the track?

        Stop and go traffic? That doesn't even make any sense. You're on the track. If it's tight that favors an LSD and lighter weight. What does the torque even matter if you can't put it down without the ass end going everywhere?

        The CSL laps the 'ring in 7:50. This is 25 seconds quicker than the 1M which is quicker than this. It's no comparison.
        I just change text colors to make it obvious which point I'm responding to

        I made the comparison between a small tight track and stop and go traffic because in both situations you go from barely moving to taking off.

        On a track that focuses on acceleration over outright speed then yeah a 911 turbo could possibly beat a gt3... I doubt it but its possible.

        Of course the csl would eat this thing on the 'ring. The ring gives you a chance to really use the full rev range, take advantage of having tighter/ more focused suspension, and would really push each car to the limit. The csl would clearly dominate on the ring, but on this little gokart track they were on most of the advantages the csl would have are negated.

        The 'ring = high speed everything csl wins. The track they were on= slow down and take off then slowdown again right when you get going

        edit* and relatively speaking the tq does suck on the s54 I drive a modded one every day! I'm not complaining because that's not why I bought the car, but I acknowledge that both in stock form the n5x platform has a clear tq advantage over the s54.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        I made the comparison between a small tight track and stop and go traffic because in both situations you go from barely moving to taking off.
        I don't know any track like that. The Streets of Willow is tight and it is nothing like what you just described.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        On a track that focuses on acceleration over outright speed then yeah a 911 turbo could possibly beat a gt3... I doubt it but its possible.
        So it's torque doesn't get an automatic win? The reason for this is because tighter gearing multiplies torque. You can have less lb-ft at the crank but more torque in gear.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        Of course the csl would eat this thing on the 'ring. The ring gives you a chance to really use the full rev range, take advantage of having tighter/ more focused suspension, and would really push each car to the limit. The csl would clearly dominate on the ring, but on this little gokart track they were on most of the advantages the csl would have are negated
        The ring is actually a bit of a power track. The tighter the course, the more it favors the CSL. Regardless, if the CSL is putting that much time on the faster 1M... um, is this even a discussion?

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        relatively speaking the tq does suck on the s54 I drive a modded one every day!
        I owned one and never felt like it was lacking in response down low.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        but I acknowledge that both in stock form the n5x platform has a clear tq advantage over the s54.
        Crank torque. You're omitting gearing and the rpm you are in at the track. Why does the S65 V8 beat other motors with more torque? Why doesn't a diesel dominate the E46 M3 on the track with all its torque?

        Crank torque doesn't mean much man it has to go through the driveline.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I don't know any track like that. The Streets of Willow is tight and it is nothing like what you just described.



        So it's torque doesn't get an automatic win? The reason for this is because tighter gearing multiplies torque. You can have less lb-ft at the crank but more torque in gear.



        The ring is actually a bit of a power track. The tighter the course, the more it favors the CSL. Regardless, if the CSL is putting that much time on the faster 1M... um, is this even a discussion?



        I owned one and never felt like it was lacking in response down low.



        Crank torque. You're omitting gearing and the rpm you are in at the track. Why does the S65 V8 beat other motors with more torque? Why doesn't a diesel dominate the E46 M3 on the track with all its torque?

        Crank torque doesn't mean much man it has to go through the driveline.
        shut me down lol. That was a nice little debate, but I have to finish studying for my chem final tomorrow lol. At the end of the day I honestly agree with you 100%. You know how I feel about BMW's new direction and the cars they produce now. The csl would beat pretty much everything bmw has made on most any track (with the exception of the gts/crt).

        edit* For me personally the s54 always left a little to be desired in terms of tq but after headers/tune problem solved Click here to enlarge
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        I would be a serious amount of cash that a 235i cannot compete with a CSL on a track.

        Regarding the torque thing, this drives me insane (no pun intended) - you make torque through gearing. You feel "impulse" or "jerk" (Horsepower<--Torque<--Jerk) of a high torque (at the crank) because we as humans detect this instant/brief change in acceleration (the cylinder firing). So, a high torque motor (disregarding gears) "feels" fast.

        Through gearing - and a high redline - a lower torque motor can HUGELY exceed the amount of torque put to the pavement - albeit it will not "feel" like this due to the actual engine not creating as much torque. Yes, an N5X might have more torque than an S54 stock for stock - but to the ground? Hell no.
      1. DFM's Avatar
        DFM -
        There is a reason why racing engines are high revving, lower tq.
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by DFM Click here to enlarge
        There is a reason why racing engines are high revving, lower tq.
        Yes sir... Having high torque at the crank = high impulse/jerk = in the middle of a corner too much acceleration = you $#@!ed up. Click here to enlarge

        Torque via a high revving (constant/flat torque engine) and gearing = smooth/reliable/what you asked for torque - not some random amount. Hit the nail on the head - and this is why the best M3s were the 'older' M3s for track duty.
      1. DFM's Avatar
        DFM -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by inlineS54B32 Click here to enlarge
        Yes sir... Having high torque at the crank = high impulse/jerk = in the middle of a corner too much acceleration = you $#@!ed up. Click here to enlarge

        Torque via a high revving (constant/flat torque engine) and gearing = smooth/reliable/what you asked for torque - not some random amount. Hit the nail on the head - and this is why the best M3s were the 'older' M3s for track duty.
        This is the exact reason why I liked the M52 in my z3 more than the n20 f30 I've got now. Miss that car....