Three generations of BMW M3 face off in a drag race, and the results are pretty much exactly as you’d expect.
Newer is almost always better. There’s nowhere this axiom holds truer than on a BMW, where the German carmaker has been iteratively improving their design for decades. From having barely over 200 hp way back in the ‘80s, the best M3 nowadays produces double that amount of power while also having incredible fuel economy and turning performance.
To put into stark contrast just how much has changed over the years, Australian car site CarWow decided to get one example of the best M3 that each generation had to offer.
From the original E30 they got the Roberto Ravaglia, a limited edition model from the UK with only 25 examples. From the E46 generation they got the CSL (Coupe Sport Leichtbau), a lighter, more powerful E46 with only 1,383 built. For the E92, they got the GTS, yet another lighter and more powerful model, while the current F80 is the CS, the most powerful M3 ever built.
On paper, this isn’t much of a contest. The E30 Roberto Ravaglia was built at the end of the 1980s and sported a 2.3-L 4-cylinder which produced 215 hp. The E46 has a 3.2-L inline six-cylinder engine with 365 hp. The E92 GTS has a 4.4-L V8 with 450 hp, and finally the F80 CS has a 3.0-L twin-turbo inline-6 with 454 hp and 443 lb-ft.
So really, this drag race is between the E92 and the F80. The F80 has the latest and greatest in aerodynamics and computer technologies, while the E92 is just a smidge lighter.
But really, the race was a foregone conclusion. Unless the E92 was several hundred pounds lighter, there’s just no way it would be able to keep up with the F80’s incredible power married with technology. The F80 shot off the line and never looked back. In fact, the E92 had some trouble getting its power to the pavement and spun its wheels off the line.
Even with the poor start, the E92 came in a comfortable second place. The times were 12.2 seconds for the F80, 13.5 for the E92, 14.8 for the E46, and 17.9 seconds for the E30. Had the E92 not spun out at the start this race might’ve been a little closer, but in the end, this race provides a great example of just how much a car improves from generation to generation.