Even though the BMW E46 3 Series hasn’t been around for over a decade, people still love the popular Bavarian model. It is, arguably, the most appreciated car the Germans ever made, and it’s definitely the best 3 Series they ever put out, with a timeless design and an incredible chassis. Even so, as time goes by technology advances and today the E46 can’t match the performance of newer models. The guys from Car Throttle decided that could change with the right tools and challenged a BMW E92 M3 to a track battle.
Therefore, they started a new series, this time the project being a BMW E46 330d Touring, a car that was never meant to break lap records. It was bought for some £1,800 ($2,300) and it has a bit over 150,000 miles on the clock. It’s a manual and it doesn’t look all that bad, to be honest. In the following weeks, they will transform it, by fitting it with an upgraded suspension, new brakes, stripping out the interior and some engine upgrades, to get the power output of the 3-liter straight six diesel up a bit.
On the other side of the track there’s a stock BMW E92 M3, quite a challenge for the Touring, to be honest. It comes with its 4-liter V8 and 414 hp and, as if that wasn’t a big enough difference, it’s a generation younger. It would’ve been one thing to compare the E46 to its generation’s M3, but it’s a different thing to compared to its successor. The lap time the M3 set might seem like it’s not too far off compared to the diesel rival here but then again, this is a short track and the difference couldn’t be higher anyway.
In the end, the 330d Touring set a lap time of 40.11 seconds. The fourth lap was the lucky one and it’s quite interesting that the old timer didn’t break down in the meantime. On the other hand, after the first lap, the ABS system on the M3 failed and didn’t recover. As for the lap time set by the M model, the best one was of 37.07 so the upgraded E46 needs to make up 3.04 seconds. Doable? Maybe, I have a hunch that even without upgrading the engine the 330d could do it. Just change the suspension, wheels and shed some weight and it’s going to be a lot closer.