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      07-12-2021, 09:19 AM   #1
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My G80 M3 experience at BMW M Track Days @ COTA

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Spent Saturday driving the G80 at the M Track day at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Let me start by saying I’m the quintessential M3/4 owner. It’s mostly a weekend car. I don’t track my car. Mostly driven on backroads with the occasional road trip. That said, driving the G80 on a track like COTA really showed it’s potential. I drove the M5 also. The M5 felt more at home on the 3.4 mile track due to AWD and the long sweeping turns and long straights. However, as stated above, I’m not buying a car based on how it navigates around COTA. On the backstretch, both the M5 and M3 hit 148mph before the braking zone. The M5 simply felt more planted/confident at that speed. I would surmise it has to do with it’s size/weight. However, the G80 felt more at home on the tighter sections of the track. Much easy to “point and shoot”.

First, the carbon seats are NOT for me. I’m 6’2”, 200 lbs and they are not comfortable. I can’t imagine having to climb in and out of these even on an occasional basis. As for track use, they are perfect. They give you a feeling of confidence that the normal comp seats don’t. But as I said, they are difficult to get out of and I can’t imagine spending any significant time in them. My $.02. Otherwise, the interior is a major upgrade over the F80.

The G80 is definitely more intuitive than the F80. It responds quicker to driver steering input. Of course after driving the M5, it felt like the G80 was half the weight. The transmission was quick but it’s not a DCT. It had some difficulty finding the right gear but I wasn’t in manual mode. That would have solved most of it’s issues, I believe. The most telling test was the drag race. We raced the M4/M8/X5M/X6M. The AWD models were MUCH quicker off the line. I believe the traction control “detuned” the boost on the M4 until it detected adequate traction. The object of the race was to arrive inside of a predetermined area first. Therefore, you had to finish “inside the box” without going past the cones that outlined the finish area. You punched it off the line but at a certain point you had to brake to finish “inside the box”. I was a passenger for half the races and a driver for half. As stated, the M4 was MUCH slower off the line but once traction was achieved, it was a bullet! I watched the speedometer for each car when I was the passenger. Even though the M8 was quicker off the line, both cars reached 62mph before heavy braking was required to not over shoot the finish area. That was telling. My opinion is the AWD M3/4 will be an absolute beast. The current version is quick but it’s like experiencing significant turbo lag. AWD will resolve that, IMO.

Overall, it was an eye-opening experience. The G80 is incredibly competent and powerful (maybe too powerful for 2wd). The handling is precise and the interior is a major upgrade (sans carbon seats). As for the design, everyone has his or her opinion and mine is as irrelevant as anyone’s is. But behind the wheel, it is evident BMW M did their due diligence to get it right.
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      07-12-2021, 10:06 AM   #2
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Nice write up, thank you for sharing. Been considering replacing our Macan with an X5M and while you spent most of the time comparing the M5 to the M4, how did the X5M fit into that equation?
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      07-12-2021, 10:36 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonahk View Post
Nice write up, thank you for sharing. Been considering replacing our Macan with an X5M and while you spent most of the time comparing the M5 to the M4, how did the X5M fit into that equation?
Both the X5M and X6M were impressive machines. The only experience was in the drag race portion of the day but they are incredibly quick considering their size. Quicker off the line than the M4 and the sound was intoxicating!

Depending on which Macan model you have, I would estimate the X5M to be more in line w/ the Macan Turbo on the performance scale. If I were in the market for an SUV with a significant "fun" factor, the X5M would be on my short list.
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      07-12-2021, 11:23 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdarwin View Post
Spent Saturday driving the G80 at the M Track day at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Let me start by saying I'm the quintessential M3/4 owner. It's mostly a weekend car. I don't track my car. Mostly driven on backroads with the occasional road trip. That said, driving the G80 on a track like COTA really showed it's potential. I drove the M5 also. The M5 felt more at home on the 3.4 mile track due to AWD and the long sweeping turns and long straights. However, as stated above, I'm not buying a car based on how it navigates around COTA. On the backstretch, both the M5 and M3 hit 148mph before the braking zone. The M5 simply felt more planted/confident at that speed. I would surmise it has to do with it's size/weight. However, the G80 felt more at home on the tighter sections of the track. Much easy to "point and shoot".

First, the carbon seats are NOT for me. I'm 6'2", 200 lbs and they are not comfortable. I can't imagine having to climb in and out of these even on an occasional basis. As for track use, they are perfect. They give you a feeling of confidence that the normal comp seats don't. But as I said, they are difficult to get out of and I can't imagine spending any significant time in them. My $.02. Otherwise, the interior is a major upgrade over the F80.

The G80 is definitely more intuitive than the F80. It responds quicker to driver steering input. Of course after driving the M5, it felt like the G80 was half the weight. The transmission was quick but it's not a DCT. It had some difficulty finding the right gear but I wasn't in manual mode. That would have solved most of it's issues, I believe. The most telling test was the drag race. We raced the M4/M8/X5M/X6M. The AWD models were MUCH quicker off the line. I believe the traction control "detuned" the boost on the M4 until it detected adequate traction. The object of the race was to arrive inside of a predetermined area first. Therefore, you had to finish "inside the box" without going past the cones that outlined the finish area. You punched it off the line but at a certain point you had to brake to finish "inside the box". I was a passenger for half the races and a driver for half. As stated, the M4 was MUCH slower off the line but once traction was achieved, it was a bullet! I watched the speedometer for each car when I was the passenger. Even though the M8 was quicker off the line, both cars reached 62mph before heavy braking was required to not over shoot the finish area. That was telling. My opinion is the AWD M3/4 will be an absolute beast. The current version is quick but it's like experiencing significant turbo lag. AWD will resolve that, IMO.

Overall, it was an eye-opening experience. The G80 is incredibly competent and powerful (maybe too powerful for 2wd). The handling is precise and the interior is a major upgrade (sans carbon seats). As for the design, everyone has his or her opinion and mine is as irrelevant as anyone's is. But behind the wheel, it is evident BMW M did their due diligence to get it right.
I was there on Saturday afternoon, and strongly agree to whatever was said in this post. It was a great evening and I expect AWD's to be really quick.

Also, the X5m's were bloody quick, sounded beautiful and I would be really considering one in coming years. jonahk
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      07-12-2021, 11:26 AM   #5
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Good write-up!
Looking forward to comparing RWD and AWD platforms in an upcoming ///M Track Day.
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      07-12-2021, 11:34 AM   #6
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Thanks for the write up!
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      07-12-2021, 11:55 AM   #7
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Great write up! I was for the afternoon event on Saturday as well and I agree with your sentiment. Overall, as a track newbie, I preferred the M3 over the M5 on track. Felt a little easier for me to drive/learn.
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      07-12-2021, 12:15 PM   #8
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These cars look so normal (and great) now.
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      07-12-2021, 12:24 PM   #9
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I was there on Friday when it was raining. I noticed a huge difference in traction between the M5 and M3. I'm very curious to see how the AWD M3 will perform in the rain.
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      07-12-2021, 12:30 PM   #10
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Nice write-up, thanks. The X vehicles are truly impressive, considering what they are.

I did one of those half-day thank-you-for-buying-a-BMW at the BMW SC PC with the wife (we went because of her M240ix) and the AWD M5 was really impressive, to the point that the wife suggested that I get one.

I love my G82 too much to do that right now, but it was a blast.
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      07-12-2021, 01:02 PM   #11
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Great post track day write up! I was there Saturday afternoon and that was a first for me! I definitely had a blast, starting off with the Z4 test drive with my son, then drag race. I agree on most points about the M4 having some lag at launch then boom off you go! I was impressed by the X6M and IMO, that was the fastest race for me.
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      07-12-2021, 02:34 PM   #12
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Was there Saturday morning and put the M3 through its paces in the slightly damp conditions.. When we did the M5 the track was dry and i was able to push the power of the car more especially around turn 18. Hot laps were a blast our instructor Emile put on quite the show with the M5.did pretty much the back section of the track in a drift! Tire popped while drifting turn 18 so we had to retire that M5. Will go again and can't wait to take delivery of my 2022 M3 so i can take it out there and see how well it preforms.
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      07-12-2021, 04:29 PM   #13
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It looks like it makes sense to get the AWD M3/M4.

Thanks for sharing!
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      07-12-2021, 05:28 PM   #14
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This is really helpful!
I'm going to track my own M3 at COTA as well this weekend.
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      07-12-2021, 05:29 PM   #15
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I was at a similar event last Friday at the Indianapolis Speedway. For the drag race as described above we had an M2C, an M8C and an X3M. And different from what is written above did I feel a huge turbo lag in the X3M compared to the M8, which of course went like a rocket. As the engines in X3M and M3/4 seem to be identical, I fear the turbo lag will stay even with an M4 AWD.
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      07-12-2021, 05:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonahk View Post
Nice write up, thank you for sharing. Been considering replacing our Macan with an X5M and while you spent most of the time comparing the M5 to the M4, how did the X5M fit into that equation?
A bit off topic but should help if your considering X5M.
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      07-12-2021, 05:32 PM   #17
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Thanks for sharing. Good write up. Funny, when I did COTA three years ago, we were doing 165 on the backstraight in the F80/82. All cars Carbon Brakes. Now I wanna go back!!
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      07-12-2021, 09:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MHOW996 View Post
Thanks for sharing. Good write up. Funny, when I did COTA three years ago, we were doing 165 on the backstraight in the F80/82. All cars Carbon Brakes. Now I wanna go back!!
Understand, it was a lead/follow scenario. We were somewhat restricted by not only the lead instructor but also those in our group. Could the M3 have reached 165? Probably. Would the M5? Absolutely. Plus some! All cars had CCB.
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      07-12-2021, 09:58 PM   #19
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jdarwin I was there with you. Agree with your sentiments about M3 vs M5. Carbon brakes on the M8C were incredible.
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      07-13-2021, 05:58 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Fan View Post
These cars look so normal (and great) now.
This strange compliment says so much. It'll be the G80 design's epitaph.
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      07-13-2021, 09:07 AM   #21
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It’s interesting that the “quintessential” M3 owner no longer tracks their car.

Not only would the owner find how incredible the cars are on track, but they would also hugely improve themselves as drivers.
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      07-13-2021, 10:47 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MHOW996 View Post
Thanks for sharing. Good write up. Funny, when I did COTA three years ago, we were doing 165 on the backstraight in the F80/82. All cars Carbon Brakes. Now I wanna go back!!
Wow, really. I did it three or four years ago as well and I waited as long as I could to jump on the brakes at the end of the straight and could only manage 145. I'm sure those more experienced on the track could probably bring more speed out of the exit before the straight and brake later than me, but 165 is a huge difference.
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