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E36 M3 Performance Vs E36 325i/is and 328i/is Performance

The gap between the 328i/is and the M3 is considerably smaller than the gap between the 325i/is and the M3. The 328 performs closer to an M3 than it does a 325. since the 328's come with an open 2.93 differential, a simple swap to a 3.15 or 3.23 ltd slip diff from a 325i sport package or M3 will make accelerate awfully close to the M3....take a 328 and do the diff, shark injector, M50 manifold and CAI and shock stock M3s...

Now, to be fair, the M3 does have a lot of small little things and details that make it feel like a different car than the 'pedestrian' E36 series cars. The suspension geometry is a beefier version of the pre-6/92 E36 design. The rack is quicker lock-to-lock, the brakes are better etc. The vaders are really great, but some people prefer the standard sport seats for long distance comfort.

As far as getting a vanos 325i/325is to perform at m3 levels, well obviously being down a half liter of displacement puts the hurt on the 325i in terms of torque...but 200-210 RWHP NA from an M50TU engine is not exactly rocket sicene. I have seen a 94 325i put down 213 RWHP on a Dynojet 248C dyno with the following modifications:

  • S50 cams from a 95 M3
  • Turner Motorsports cam chip
  • Active Autowerke cold air intake
  • stock M3 exhaust system
  • underdrive pulley set

    Combine a setup like this with a 3.23, or better yet, a 3.38 differential (found in some M3 automatics), and your 325 will feel like a rocketship. It will pull on stock S50's to 100 mph. Of course, your car will still be down torque wise, but if you gear it tight enough it's not a big deal. Interesting to note that the M3's beefier internals closely resemble the guts of a non vanos M50 engine, especially the connecting rods and double valve spring setup.

    My 1995 325is has a TMS/Jim Conforti chip, an ECIS intake, and stock M3 exhaust. A good friend of mine drives a 97 328i with M3 exhaust and that's it. His car is much stronger off the line and at low-midrange rpm. I keep telling him to get the shark injector and an M50 manifold to really let his car breathe!

    A couple of other suspension and chassis notes: The control arm/ball joint setup on the E36 M3 is different and superior to the regular E36 series. If your E36 invariably eats its ball joints (which they are prone to doing), it's not a bad idea to upgrade to the M specific parts. Also, many people (especially on eBay) sell their stock M3 shocks/struts/springs. Do not attempt to run M3 springs on your non-M shocks/struts. They don't fit. Swapping over to a complete M3 suspension setup, on the other hand, is fairly painless.

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