1997 BMW M3 vs. 1997 Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG: Classical Gas

This comparability take a look at between the BMW M3 sedan and Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG was initially revealed on April 1, 1997.

This comparability is between—inarguably—the 2 most fascinating compact sedans ever constructed. The limited-production BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG are every so unbelievable, so essentially great, that this take a look at may degenerate right into a love-fest of reward. They’re fast, deal with brilliantly, brake immediately, and are constructed with the structural integrity of a beryllium molecule. We may virtually put the essential blinders on, interact WordPerfect’s glorious built-in thesaurus, and let the superlatives fly. Nonetheless, although this take a look at will draw out the subtleties and distinctions, it’ll lapse into a couple of gooey gushes. Forgive us, we’re human.

Neither the M3 nor the C 36 seems notably intimidating. Positive, they’ve deep entrance spoilers, oversize wheels, they usually hunker seductively to the bottom, however these are acquainted shapes. If one isn’t aware of the efficiency particulars, then you definitely’d be forgiven for considering of those two automobiles as among the “lesser” 3s and Cs that line the affiliate parking stalls at any Minneapolis legislation agency. Nevertheless, their low-key ornament belies the substance of the modifications inside. Each the M3 and C 36 emerge from a German tuning custom that calls for elegantly engineered parts to enrich additional energy with dealing with and braking. That custom has little to do with ornamentation.

BMW M3 vs. Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG: Mo’ Motorsport

The M3 sedan comes from BMW’s personal Motorsport division, which has developed particular high-performance highway and race machines reminiscent of the exotic M1 mid-engine sports activities automotive of the early 1980s to the luscious M5, M6, and 850CSi fashions of more moderen reminiscence. Till the sedan’s late arrival in the USA, the M3 extension of BMW’s 3 Series had been accessible right here solely as a coupe. Apart from the additional set of doorways, the M3 sedan is mechanically an identical to the M3 coupe, proper right down to its suspension calibration. And that’s a superb factor.

Which means underneath the identical sheet metallic that skins the 138-hp BMW 318i sedan lies a 240-hp inline-six engine. Boring the iron-block 328i’s six cylinders a further 2.Four millimeters and lengthening the crankshaft’s stroke 5.6 millimeters ends in a 359-cubic-centimeter bump in engine displacement to three.2 liters. Mixed with a slight compression enhance from 10.2:1 to 10.5:1 and the suitable gas injection, consumption, exhaust, and engine administration programs, the web result’s a automotive with 50 extra ponies than its 328i kin.

That energy score is misleading, although, as a result of the engine’s best benefit really lies in torque manufacturing. The M3’s peak energy score happens at a comparatively excessive 6,000 rpm—700 rpm greater than the 328i’s peak. However its 236 lb-ft of torque is on the market at solely 3,800 rpm. That’s 150 rpm decrease than when the 328i’s 206 lb-ft of twist peak. Principally, no matter gear the M3 is in, or wherever within the rev band the engine is popping, there’s at all times a glut of grunt accessible.

Behind that torrent of twist, BMW mounts both of two ZF five-speed transmissions: a sublime-shifting guide or an outstanding automated. Our take a look at automotive had the guide, giving it a considerably unfair edge in acceleration over the automatic-only C 36.

The M3’s suspension geometry is acquainted to anybody who’s peeked underneath any BMW Three Collection coupe or sedan, nevertheless it’s optimized by the M Division with particular springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars. Additionally, in contrast to different Three Collection, the M automotive will get a variable-rate energy help on its rack-and-pinion steering system, which has a slower ratio at parking-lot speeds and a a lot faster ratio when the automotive is romping. Braking is the accountability of big 12.4-inch entrance and 12.3-inch rear vented discs.

Sharing a shoe dimension, the M3 and C 36 each put on 225/45ZR17 entrance and 245/40ZR17 rear tires on 17 x 7.5-inch entrance and 17 x 8.5-inch rear wheels. The M3’s tires are Michelin Pilot SXs, whereas the C 36 sports activities Bridgestone Expedias.

BMW M3 vs. Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG: Extra Like OMG

To create the C 36, Mercedes conspired with famed tuner AMG, a agency that not too long ago advanced into Benz’s sensible equal to BMW’s M. Based mostly on the C-Class sedan launched in 1995, the C 36 represents the primary time Mercedes has offered a automobile explicitly modified by an out of doors agency as its personal. It received’t be the final, nevertheless; quickly an E50 model of the E-Class sedan is slated to look on these shores. In order for you a C 36, hurry; solely 200 will probably be imported this 12 months, and the corporate swears there will probably be no 1998 model.

The C 36’s engine has just one.1 millimeters of additional bore diameter relative to the two.8-liter six-cylinder engine of the C 280 that it’s primarily based on, however the crank’s stroke is a frightening 18.9 millimeters longer. Together with that enhance, AMG bumps the compression up half some extent to 10.5:1, calibrates the electronics to work with more-aggressive camshafts, and throws on a freer-flowing exhaust. This ends in 3.6 liters of displacement, a full 454 cubic-centimeters extra displacement than the M3’s engine presents. That benefit works out to 276 hp at 5,750 rpm—82 greater than a C 280 and 36 greater than the M3. It’s additionally eight extra ponies than was claimed for the C 36 upon its introduction two years in the past.

The one transmission supplied with the C 36 is a five-speed automated, which, utilizing the normal Mercedes gated shifter, could be very efficient when shifted manually.

Fortification of the C-Class chassis was achieved with cautious raiding of the AMG and Mercedes components bins. For instance, the AMG “Monoblock” wheel design can also be used on the SL 500 (albeit in an 18-inch diameter), and the mammoth 12.6-inch entrance and 10.9-inch rear vented disc brakes had been scavenged from the 905-pound-heavier SL 600 V-12 roadster. The essential C-Class suspension design stays unaltered, although geared up with a lot stiffer springs and shocks and specific-diameter anti-roll bars. The C 36’s recirculating-ball steering’s 13.3:1 ratio is way faster than the C 280 Sport’s 15.4:1 gearing.

BMW M3 vs. Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG: Tremendous Sedans

Slide into the M3, and the automotive appears to wrap round you. The sprint and cowl really feel excessive, whereas the aggressively contoured bolsters of the M-spec seats virtually embrace you. Climb into the C 36, and you are feeling as when you’re in a a lot bigger automotive. Though the C 36 is simply 0.Eight inch wider, 2.9 inches longer general, and rides on a wheelbase that’s really 0.Four inch shorter than the M3’s, the Mercedes feels as if it’s nearer in dimension to a BMW 5 Series. The C 36’s sprint sits decrease, the glass space appears larger, and the motive force sits atop, reasonably than in, the splendidly snug seat. It’s a query of temper. The M3 feels aggressive and able to pounce, the C 36 assured and in command for a protracted bout. It’s the distinction between being outfitted for guerrilla warfare or an open-field tank battle.

Enticing as each interiors are (with their supple leather-based, upholstery element, and delicate logos), all will not be good. Within the M3, there’s no adjustment accessible for the steering wheel, and the shallow center-console cupholder seems like an afterthought extra acceptable for a conversion van. On the C 36, the door armrests and heart console are shaped from a inflexible plastic missing the tactile sophistication that must be taken without any consideration on any automotive this costly.



The C 36 could really feel greater, however the inside dimensions supplied by every producer point out that the distinction in lodging is minimal. BMW claims 41.1 inches of entrance and 34.Zero inches of rear legroom within the M3, whereas Mercedes asserts there are 41.5 and 32.Eight accessible within the C 36. On the subject of packing folks in—and that’s the essence of a four-door’s skills—the competition is a draw.

To get the utmost efficiency from both automotive, it’s first needed to show off the traction management. Fortuitously, that’s attainable. Sadly, there’s no option to program both system to not reengage each time the automotive is began. When on, each programs are unobtrusive and reassuring throughout day-to-day motoring, but show to be absolute fun-robbers in aggressive driving.

Every automotive shows a giant orange triangle warning gentle on the sprint when the traction management system is turned off, subsequently indicating that, whereas the producer appreciates you’re an grownup accountable sufficient to afford an M3 or C 36, you should be nuts to do what you bear in mind. If the C 36’s warning gentle was any extra obnoxious, it might auto-dial the suicide prevention hot-line on the cellphone. What makes this all so weird is how completely mannered each automobiles are with out traction management—among the many least seemingly automobiles to betray a driver.

BMW M3 vs. Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG: On the Proper Monitor

It takes a little bit of delicacy to acquire the quickest dragstrip launch from both automotive (a bit extra with the guide transmission within the M3), however each are massively fast. The three,175-pound M3 takes simply 5.5 seconds to achieve 60 mph, whereas the three,550-pound C 36 does the trick in 5.9 ticks. BMW claims the automatic-equipped M3 sedan takes 0.Eight second longer to hit 60 mph than its guide brother, which would go away it barely behind the C 36. Pull as much as a Chevrolet Camaro Z28 in both automotive, and it’ll be the drivers’ relative talent that determines the winner of a stoplight drag. The BMW exhibits its energy finest when coming off a nook, as its heady torque rockets the automotive from any apex. Against this, the C 36 shines brightest when the motive force kilos the accelerator whereas cruising at about 70 mph; as soon as the transmission kicks down, the automotive’s acceleration to 120 mph is breathtaking. Prime pace received’t separate the 2, as each are electronically restricted to 155 mph.

In final dealing with, the M3 has a transparent benefit. The BMW’s 69.4-mph eruption by way of our 600-foot slalom has been surpassed solely by the Ferrari F355, Porsche 911 Turbo, and Dodge Viper GTS amongst all present manufacturing automobiles. Spectacular firm. What’s extra superb is that the M3’s steering response could also be the perfect of the bunch. Matching that dynamic efficiency are superior brakes (60-Zero mph in 113 toes). Round a decent highway course, the M3 may effectively be the quickest manufacturing four-door ever.

Nonetheless, the C 36 isn’t any dealing with slouch, and its 66.5-mph slalom pace betters some naturally aspirated Porsche 911s we’ve examined, and its suspension isn’t fairly as harsh in regular driving. Whereas the BMW beats the Benz’s 114-foot 60-0-mph stopping distance by a single foot, the C 36’s 28-foot 30-0-mph anchorage is a foot higher than that of the M3. Nearly as good because the C 36’s steering is, nevertheless, it will possibly’t match the M3 for precision really feel.

The C 36’s extra compliant suspension combines with extra efficacious gearing to make the automotive a superior cruiser. At about 70 mph, the M3’s 1.00:1 fifth-gear and three.23:1 final-drive ratio have the engine turning at effectively over 3,000 rpm, and the drone is noticeable. The C 36’s 0.83:1 fifth-gear and three.07:1 rear-end end in a extra relaxed 2,550 rpm on the similar 60 mph.

The M3’s barely compromised prowess has its attract, and so do the C 36’s longer, extra compliant legs. However finally the victory right here should go to the M3 for one easy cause: worth. Each C 36 comes loaded with energy seats, a moonroof, cruise management, a Bose stereo that could possibly be used to shout propaganda into North Korea, and a $51,925 base worth. By the point choices reminiscent of an built-in cellphone, CD changer, adjustable steering column, and vacation spot costs had been added, this take a look at automotive wore a $57,260 sticker. That’s up there with the bigger, incredibly attractive Mercedes-Benz E 420 Sport and BMW 540i.

In distinction, the M3 sedan begins at a a lot decrease $39,280, though it comes and not using a sunroof, energy seats, cruise, and a variety of different issues. However even geared up with sufficient choices to match the C 36, the M3 continues to be a full Honda Civic DX cheaper. And within the realm of efficiency automobiles, that makes it one of many nice bargains on the market. Regardless of what number of doorways it has.

BMW Mercedes-Benz
M3 Sedan C 36 AMG
Importer BMW of North Mercedes-Benz of
America, Inc, North America, Inc.,
Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Montvale, N.J.
Physique fashion 4-door, 5-passenger 4-door, 5-passenger
Location of ultimate meeting Munich, Germany Afalterbach, Germany
EPA dimension class Subcompact Compact
Drivetrain format FE, RD FE, RD
Airbag Twin Twin
Base worth $39,280 $51,925
Worth as examined $39,280 $57,260
Choices included None Traction management,
heated seats, $,1875;
CD changer,
cell phone, $1,495
Ancillary costs Vacation spot, $570 Vacation spot, $595
Wheelbase, in./mm 106.3/2700 105.9/2690
Monitor, f/r, in./mm 56.0/56.6/1422/1438 58.9/58.2/1497/1478
Size, in./mm 174.5/4432 177.4/4506
Width, in./mm 66.9/1699 67.7/1720
Top, in./mm 53.7/1364 56.1/1425
Floor clearance, in./mm 3.5/89 5.0/127
Mfr’s curb weight, lb 3,175 3,550
Weight distribution, f/r, % 50/50 55/45
Cargo capability, cu ft 10.3 11.6
Gas capability, gal. 16.4 16.4
Weight/energy ratio, lb/hp 13.2 12.9
Kind I-6, liquid-cooled, I-6, liquid-cooled,
cast-iron block, cast-iron block,
cast-aluminum head cast-aluminum head
Bore x stroke, in./mm 3.40×3.53/ 3.58×3.64/
86.4×89.6 91.0×92.4
Displacement, ci/cc 192/3,152 220/3,606
Compression ratio 10.5:1 10.5:1
Valve gear DOHC, DOHC,
Four valves/cylinder Four valves/cylinder
Gas/induction system Multiport injection Multiport injection
Horsepower, hp @ rpm, SAE web 240 @ 6,000 276 @ 5,750
Torque, lb @ rpm, SAE web 236 @ 3,800 284 @ 4,000
Horsepower/liter 76.1 76.5
Redline, rpm 6,800 6,600
Really helpful gas Premium unleaded Premium unleaded
Transmission sort 5-speed guide 5-speed automated
Gear ratios
(1st) 4.20:1 3.59:1
(2nd) 2.49:1 2.19:1
(third) 1.66:1 1.41:1
(4th) 1.24:1 1.00:1
(fifth) 1.00:1 0.83:1
Axle ratio 3.23:1 3.07:1
Ultimate-drive ratio 3.23:1 2.55:1
Engine rpm, 60 mph in high gear 2,800 2,250
BMW Mercedes-Benz
M3 Sedan C 36 AMG
Entrance MacPherson struts, decrease Higher and decrease
arms, coil springs, arms, coil springs,
anti-roll bar anti-roll bar
Rear Multilink, coil springs, 5-links, coil springs,
anti-roll bar anti-roll bar
Steering Rack and pinion, Recirculating ball,
Kind energy help energy help
Ratio 15.6:1 13.3:1
Turns, lock to lock 3.0 3.0
Turning circle, ft 38.1 37.2
Entrance, sort/dia., in. Vented disc/12.4 Vented disc/12.6
Rear, sort/dia., in. Vented disc/12.3 Vented disc/10.9
Anti-lock Commonplace Commonplace
Wheels and tires
Wheel dimension, f/r, in. 17×7.5/17×8.5 17×7.5/17×8.5
Wheel sort/materials Cast alloy Cast aluminum
Tire dimension, f/r 225/45ZR17/ 225/45ZR17/
245/40ZR17 245/40ZR17
Tire mfr. and mannequin Michelin Pilot SX Bridgestone Expedia
Devices 160-mph speedo, 160-mph speedo,
8,000-rpm tach, 7,000-rpm tach,
gas degree, water temp, gas degree,
digital clock coolant temp
Warning lamps Battery, low gas, Low gas, engine oil,
verify engine, seatbelt, traction
brake, brake fluid, management, entrance brake-
airbag, seatbelts, pad put on, coolant,
brake stress, ABS washer fluid, ABS,
engine electronics
Acceleration, sec
0-30 mph 2.0 2.2
0-40 mph 2.9 3.2
0-50 mph 4.1 4.5
0-60 mph 5.5 5.9
0-70 mph 7.2 7.7
0-80 mph 9.0 9.9
0-90 mph 11.5 12.3
0-100 mph 14.3 15.2
standing quarter mile,
sec @ mph 14.0 @ 99.2 14.4 @ 97.7
Braking, ft
30-0 29 28
60-0 113 114
Dealing with
Lateral acceleration, g 0.91 0.87
Velocity by way of 600-ft
slalom, mph 69.4 66.5
Speedometer error 30/29 30/28
Indicated/precise 40/39 40/38
50/49 50/48
60/59 60/58
Inside noise, dB
Idling in impartial 48 45
Regular 60 mph in high gear 71 70
EPA, metropolis/hwy., mpg 20/28 18/24
Est. vary, metropolis/hwy., miles 328/459 295/394

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