Project E46 M3- Part 18: E46 M3 vs E90 M3


The Ford Mustang GT’s GT500 wheels are wrapped with 275/40-18 BF Goodrich Comp2 All-Seasons, which should hinder it a bit in grip but some of it will be made back up with its slightly larger circumference, providing a slightly longer footprint. Let’s hope its torque isn’t too much off the line, though. While we could botch an obviously poor run and start again, once we were fully committed, that was the one run that counted.

Project M3 is still rockin’ the same BF Goodrich Rivals from a few years ago. They’re far from new but have some life left. These tires have been awesome for a street-class tire.

One of the tricks up Project M3’s sleeve will be the use of the 3-step launch mode from the AEM Infinity, which uses factory steering wheel buttons thanks to CAN BUS. When you press the cruise control button, it activates the launch setup, and the RPM warm-up lights light up.

Considering the weather was about 60F out (although with 61% humidity—and humidity is a power killer), and the fact that we wouldn’t be doing any burnouts, we didn’t want to take off with too much wheel spin. So, I set up the launch mode to limit RPM to around 3200 as long as the cruise control button was depressed. It’s easy to use—with the button depressed with my right hand I simply dump the clutch at full throttle, at about 1 second into the run I release the button, grab the gear shifter, and hope the tire rotation has come down to actual vehicle speed.

In order to keep the comparison to just the cars and prevent it from turning it into a war over who’s the better driver or which car has more grip, my initial idea was just to compare third- to fourth-gear pulls from 60-120 MPH only. That way we’d just be comparing the true, straight-line acceleration, and any decent driver can perform a good 3-4 shift (just remember to grab “palm out” lest you sadly discover what a “money shift” is).

Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite enough room for that speed to perform safely. But, since we did have the opportunity to run a quick quarter-mile, we thought our readers would appreciate it. The real comparison with power comes with the trap speed, not the elapsed time, which is more indicative of how well the driver dealt with the available grip and gearshifts.

Before you Mustang GT and E90/E92 BMW M3s scoff at our times, keep in mind we did these as a “street start”. That means no track prep and no burnout—just take off like you would from a light. All were given a 1-day notification for this test, so no one really had the time to empty out their gas tanks, nor do any real testing beforehand. We just showed up, ran once, and went home. Since we weren’t in optimal weather or altitude, we also added in the standard NHRA correction for sea level (which is what the big rags use as well).

Our end results are on the next page!

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