Back in the early ’00s, the E46 BMW M3 was considered the best driving sports car in its class. It beat out cars like the AMG C63 and the Audi RS4 on a track and on a twisty road. And don’t even get me started on cars like the Mustang of the era. However, toward the mid-’00s, the M3 started to lose its performance edge, due to its lack of power. Which is where Steve Dinan and his SR-3 package came in. In this new video, The Smoking Tire drives an E46 M3 with Dinan’s SR-3 package and it makes a world of a difference.
BMW’s 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six made 333 horsepower from the factory. It was an incredibly impressive engine, capable of making more than 100 horsepower per liter in the early ’00s. However, a few years later, Audi’s RS4 used a 4.2-liter N/A V8 to make 414 horsepower and Mercedes was developing its own V8. BMW needed more power and didn’t have it. But Dinan’s SR-3 package completely changed the game, by using a supercharger to make over 460 horsepower.
It wasn’t just power, though. The Dinan SR-3 package was Steve Dinan’s most comprehensive tuning package, with new suspension, Brembo brakes, a shorter rear differential, new strut tower braces, new sway bars, all new bushings, and lightweight 19-inch wheels. The SR-3 package improved everything about the car.
According to TST’s Zack Klapman, the SR-3-tuned M3 is significantly quicker and sharper than the standard M3. And Klapman would know, as he owns a mostly stock E46 M3. He claims the SR-3 car to be a big upgrade over his car, in terms of both power delivery and agility. He also says it increases the feel through both the steering and the chassis, making it a more communicative experience.
One of the most impressive aspects of the SR-3 BMW M3 is that it’s also reliable. As always with Steve Dinan, he doesn’t just slap a supercharger on and call it a day. He also tunes the hell out of the engine to make sure that it’s durable and reliable. The owner of this SR-3 M3 has put over 60,000 miles on it with that Dinan tuning package and it still works beautifully, despite making over 130 more horsepower that stock. That’s the beauty of Steven Dinan’s work.
If you want an early ’00s sports sedan or coupe, it’s understandable if you think the E46 M3 is a bit underpowered. However, just know that you can completely transform it with a little help from Dinan.