M3 to Model S?

M3 to Model S?

OK, the Tesla bug has bitten me. I am the very happy owner of the current generation V8 M3 and up until recently my next car was going to be the next model M3 when it comes out in about a year. About a month ago my 15 year old son mentioned to me that his band teacher had a Tesla and he was giving kids rides (and doing burnouts!). I immediately volunteered to pick him up from his next band practice since my wife usually does it. I was expecting to see a Tesla Roadster and I drove all over the parking lot looking looking for it. I finally gave up and drove to the front of the school where I did a double take on a gorgeous white car with a "T" on the back. I had never seen a Model S in person before. At first glance I thought it was a Jag. Beautiful yet subtle lines. I talked with the owner for a while and kiddingly challenged him to a drag race whereupon he replied "I'll kick your butt" (I don't think he would have, he didn't have the performance model - but I liked his attitude). Since then I have been gleaning the Internet for articles and videos on anything to do with the Model S. Sound familiar? I love my M3, it is a multi award winning car - but when I see the looks on peoples' faces when they drive the Model S and hit the accelerator I am hooked. My car will do nearly 180 mph - so what? I have often thought that this top-end speed is totally wasted, only good for bragging rights and big numbers on the speedometer. I don't really care about anything in excess of 100 mph. That's one of the reasons I am so intrigued by the Tesla, seemingly incredible real-world usable acceleration in a totally family friendly and practical vehicle. My car also has the automated manual double clutch transmission which is truly a mechanical wonder. Now after researching the Tesla that mechanical wonder just seems clunky, inefficient and unnecessary (The M3 forum would string me up if they read this). So, have any of you gone from an M3 or other comparable performance car to a Model S? I would love to hear some comparisons. By the way, I have a test drive in the Model S scheduled for next Sunday in Menlo Park. Am I a goner?

Captain_Zap | 17. März 2013

Goner. Sorry; ;-)

mika_ | 17. März 2013

You're screwed, nothing short of owning one will cure you after your test drive. :)

I too came from a BMW (Z4 roadster for me, also with a fancy double clutch) which I thought was a pretty fun car... until I got bit by the Tesla bug. It's really a unique driving experience - it's well documented that it will slam you to the back of your seat easily enough, but what impresses me the most is how gentle and precise you can be in real-world driving at any speed. It's like a missile on the freeway, but still smooth and effortless in a parking lot. There's no hesitations or lag due to shifting, sucking in air, spooling up the turbo... all that adorable stuff my old car did, which now feels like a fossil.

petero | 17. März 2013

The only thing you are going to miss is the drama - NOT!

Tâm | 17. März 2013

No, I never had any luxury car before this so I have no idea what an M3 can make me feel.

The most expensive car that I could afford was a Prius. I was a hypermiler who tried to stretch as far as possible with each drop of gasoline so I didn't care about speed or performance.

I hate petroleum industry because of the negative environmental and social impacts including sending our young ones to die in wars to protect the oil fields. So I was hoping that someday there would be a company that would sell me an electric car.

When the Roadster was produced in 2008, I couldn't afford it with a start price of over $110,000. 4 years later in 2012, my dream came true with the Model S with a start price of half of that.

I then realized that this is not just an electric car, it is an amazing machine. People are attracted to it. One guy was walking in a shopping mall but then he suddenly stopped, looked at my Model S, and pulled out his cell phone and took pictures. He didn't realize it's an electric car and never heard of Tesla. Others also tailgating my Model S, circling while mine was on 70mph cruise control. Hey, don't care about me, they overwhelming just want to know what kind of car this is that they never saw before! That's ok for me just as long as they know that electric is the solution, not oil!

Once, I had no time to drive 800 miles round trip, so I had to fly instead. At LAX road stop check point, an office waved other cars to pass but stopped me just to ask about this car that he never saw before. There was no questions related to Home Land Security at all and I was more than happy with that!

Now, instead of flying to Oakland and Las Vegas from Orange County, I have been driving my Model S. Model S saves me from being molested or irradiated by airport security line! And I am no longer a hypermiler and I feel much more freedom to drive than ever because I take advantage of Tesla Supercharger infrastructure in CA.

I was never appreciative of a car performance until I first drove the Model S. I could easily pass any car on the road if I wanted so far. The feeling of handling, acceleration, deceleration of this car is incredible. I've met LAX pilot Larry who described that it's just like when you take off and land on an aircraft carrier. The runway is very short but there's enough G-force to do the job.

Get your Model S and you won't regret it!

Brian H | 17. März 2013

"The putt-putt car was nice while it lasted."

TikiMan | 17. März 2013

If this gives you an indication of how much faster the Model S P85 is, compaired to a BMW M5...

Hogfighter | 18. März 2013

M3Michael, I've driven my S for over 5,000 miles, and I am no longer impressed with any other performance car. Porsche Panamera, E63 AMG, M5...all are the same song-and-dance in slightly different wrappers.

2 years ago, I would have gone to great lengths to drive one of those cars. Now, no thanks.

alsettesla | 18. März 2013

You are a goner. I currently own an Audi A8 and a Porsche Cayenne, my last car was a BMW 750 (I was living in Germany and was able to drive 160MPH every day), and I was moving forward with the purchase of an Audi R8, until I drove the Model S. I was sold in about 3.9 seconds. This is an AMAZING automobile and ideally suited for US driving conditions. While there are a few amenities I will miss, I really think the Model S is a bargain and a wonderful blend of practical usability, grin inspiring performance, and visionary innovation. I take delivery in 10 days, and I have never been so excited about a car.

gasnomo | 18. März 2013

I've had both an M3 and an my Tesla more...and I used to say to everyone, "my favorite car ever was my M3" its my MS...

gregv64 | 18. März 2013

I know what you mean about the double clutch. I have a commute over the mountains and my car has always had to handle two different problems. Suddenly accelerating uphill to pass and on other days handling stop and go traffic uphill. A manual is great for the first case but a pain for the second, whereas an automatic is great for the stop and go, but the passing experience was awful with the downshift. I finally thought I had the best solution with a double clutch Audi and paddle shifters.

With the Model S the experience is 100 times better with instant response in all situations, and I can't imagine ever going back to a gas engine.

christurbeville | 18. März 2013

E39 M5, E60 M5, and the MS. Loved the E39 most of all...till the MS. 600Miles and it is still setting in I get to drive this anytime.

Velo1 | 18. März 2013

The teacher was correct, he'd kick your butt. Or as my vanity plate says: KCK GAS

alexlchan | 18. März 2013

I currently drive an e90 m3 with an manual gearbox. I like driving a "real" stick, and at first I thought getting a non-shifting car wouldn't be as fun.

We can tell you all day long that the MS is better, but you will reamin skeptical.

Do yourself a favor and go test drive a P85 (drop down the $5k if you need to). Decide for yourself, but I'm pretty sure I know how it'll go...

jbunn | 18. März 2013

Yea, its over. I have a ford explorer, and a volvo c70. Put the c 70 up for sale saturday. Will put the explorer up in another week or so. Yesterday, gave away my huge collection of motor oil, filters, tranny fluid, grease, starting fluid, oil change kit, etc, etc ive accumulated over my adult life.

Dont plan on needing any supplies for that quaint technology again.

ginsbergr | 18. März 2013

M3Michael, you will be a goner. The only car that is comparable is my GTR. The sports/sporty cars i presently own are a '96 911, GTR and BMW 335d. The Tesla Model S is phenomenal, only comparable to the GTR in terms of quickness and handling, although the GTR is a much better handling car...but, when you consider that you get all of this and do not use gas, the Model S 85 is in a class by itself. Now, with that said, I would not give up my GTR because that is a blast as well... Go get the Tesla, and you will be a very happy person!

MSNGIRL | 18. März 2013

Ive driven many fast cars bmw m, porsche s or turbo, mercedes amg, audi s or rs versions. Although I prefer a true manual car. I was absolutely stunned when I test drove a model s. Like ginsbergr said, the car that comes close to it is a GTR. Every car has its niche the market and I'm completely sold on Tesla. The car is phenomenal and in a complete class of its own. For a big heavy roomy all electric car it handles great and moves very quickly and quietly, you would never know it just by looking at it. Somehow you feel like you are driving off into warp speed. The next thing you know Tesla will be making them spread wings! I hope in my lifetime! Have fun with the test drive!!! The more test drives the more reservations!!! We just got back from our test drive and now our reservation is in. We cannot wait!

JZ13 | 18. März 2013

M3Michael says he has a test drive coming up this Sunday. I expect we will see a post from him shortly thereafter telling us all we were right. Welcome to the club Michael!

ronovan_mcnabb | 18. März 2013

M3Michael, I got my MS on Feb 1 and I've owned both the E93 and the E46 convertible before it, and I had a Porsche boxster about 10 years ago. I absolutely LOVE my MS and would not trade it in for any other car out right now, however I do have to say that I do still miss my E93 at times.

I love my MS for the same reasons why everyone else here loves theirs, but even though its center of gravity is extremely low its still quite a heavy car. Although it feels much smaller than it really is, it won't handle quite as well as an M3. I live in Half Moon Bay and love driving HW92 late at night when no one else is on the road, and nothing I've driven is as fun to drive on it than the M3s or the Boxster.

But even if the new M3 were out today, and I still would have gotten the MS. In fact at the end of Dec I came really close to taking an end of year deal($20k off!!!) on a brand new 911 convertible but passed on it in favor of waiting for my MS to be delivered in Feb. Even though it won't corner like an M3 or Porsche there is nothing like the immediacy of the torque coming from that single gear electric engine. There is nothing else that comes close to having the design, practicality, and performance of the MS. Plus I'm helping to save the world one mile at a time ;)

christine_orita | 18. März 2013


Ditto, ditto, ditto everyone else's input so far.

It's amazing.


KeithE | 18. März 2013

Had my MS for 3 weeks now and 300 miles. It is by far the most awesome car I have owned. I just gave back my Audi S4 lease 10months early. Before the MS the S4 was my favorite. Before that I had an exciting Jeep Srt8. Both of those cars were incredibly fast and agile but nothing compares to the MS. I have the 60kwh which is probably as fast 0-60 as my S4 but I have to say the performance MS really will blow you away. I just couldn't justify the extra 20+k and I'm Lovin my MS. Will plan to upgrade to GEN3 performance model in 5 yrs. Go for it! You will never look back. Please post your test ride feedback.

jgraessley | 18. März 2013

I switched from an M5 (the V10 one they stopped making when the new 5 series came out) to the Model S and I love the Model S. The torque in the M5 was all at the higher RPMs, so it was a chore to keep the car accelerating quickly and the milage was abysmal. The Model S has instant torque. I never have to stop at a gas station, and I get to take advantage of the car pool lanes here in CA. The Model S feels like has more storage space too between the trunk and the front trunk. The M5 had fold down seats, but the pass through between the two was very small. The Model S seats fold down and leave lots of room.

My wife has an M3 and I was able to convince her to start carpooling to work with me in the Model S. The only thing we miss is the ability to use USB to get the audio from our iOS devices. The Bluetooth audio quality is crappy and I plug in to the USB anyhow to keep the device charged. I hope support for USB iOS audio is only a software updates away.

dr.jacks.tesla | 18. März 2013

Your a goner! I drive a heavily modified S4 and can honesty say only thing I miss while driving the model S performance is that sudden burst of accel you get when you launch at 2-3k rpm with traction control off and all 4 tires start spinning, however after that initial accel in the S4, the model S is so much stronger than the S4 pulling to 60.
The electronics and interface on the S4 is superb and better than anything by far put there!
I really feel like this is the car of the future and introduce it as such when friends and random people check it out

mika_ | 18. März 2013

@jgraessley - you actually can play music straight off your iOS device if you plug it in via USB, you just have to control it from the device itself, not the car's touch screen. Once plugged in, go to the music app on the iThing and play the music of your choice. It basically treats the car just like earbuds... giant earbuds.

jchangyy | 18. März 2013

@M3...I've only had my MS for 3 weeks and I love it. I have to admit though...I've always wanted to drive an M3. Every time I went in to a BMW dealership(in my jeans and Atari t-shirt), no one would pay any attention so I was never able to get a test drive.

Good luck w the test drive.

darreny | 18. März 2013

I've had an 08 e92 M3 6-speed. It didn't have the torque I was looking for. You really have to rev the engine up to get the maximum power out of that 4.0l V8.

The instant torque of the Model S is simply magical. I have a non-perf Model S and it's still an amazing car. I live in the hills and I do miss the handling of the M3.

info | 18. März 2013

You might as well stock up on butter and jelly because you're toast.

dr.jacks.tesla | 18. März 2013

@jchangyy: "Every time I went in to a BMW dealership(in my jeans and Atari t-shirt), no one would pay any attention so I was never able to get a test drive."

This is why I refuse to buy any other premium German car now: they treat people like crap and expect you to bow down to them cause they sell 100K cars. I could tell you stories and fortunately they showed their true colors before I bought a car!


Sanjuro | 18. März 2013


The Model S is the first car I ever bought without having to go to a dealership and being subjected to douchey car salespeople.

michaelseda | 18. März 2013

Your love for the M3 will be D.O.A (of your MS...that is).

GLO | 18. März 2013

As you can tell, we've all given ourselves over to the MS. She sucks you in and ruins your for any other car. Start planning to sell your M3!...:)

garyrudolph | 18. März 2013

Best car ever (overall)! Only thing I find lacking is the handling could be stiffer for less body roll, particularly in the canyons (it's no M5 in the corners).

Previous cars are a S2000, E85 M, E60 M5, E89 "is", etc.

skymaster | 18. März 2013

M3, After you make the reservation, you will have to endure the wait. It can be painful. I am on the last 12 hours...I will not sleep tonight!!!

jchangyy | 18. März 2013's interesting...I live in Silicon Valley and many of the millionaires/billionaires walk around town in jeans/t-shirts and flip-flops. these car dealers should know better.

robert | 19. März 2013

I got into my SL500 today after a couple weeks of driving my Model S and I actually felt like something was wrong with the car, it felt so slow in comparison.

Cattledog | 19. März 2013


You can join me in the widowed BMW support group. Don't worry, there are lots of us.

dr.jacks.tesla | 19. März 2013

That is the difference between the East and West coasts! We all walk around like we are millionaires when we aren't! People act and want to be treated as such!
On the West coast you all are chill and you guys don't walk around with your nose in the air and dont expect to be treated like gods.
Just a generalization but kind of true also

mike_and_annie | 19. März 2013

Went from '08 M3 coupe to P85. As a daily driver, almost no looking back - can put all 3 kids in the back, right pedal is a kick, car handles very well for a 4,600 lb car, and the suspension is more friendly to midwest potholes. It is a different driving experience - no noise, no shifting, very visceral connection to your right foot.
As a track car, my part of the world is not yet fully ready to embrace electric cars on the track. There aren't too many supercharging stations / charging stations at the race tracks around the midwest.
I personally never had my m3 reach its speed limited top speed of 155. I can't imagine where / what it would be like to do 180. I did get it up to 140 at Road America. That was plenty exciting. Assuming I can get the P85 up to 135, I assume that will be plenty exciting as well.

bobinfla | 19. März 2013

@ jchangyy: I hope you drive your S to the BMW dealer a la Pretty Woman and say "you wouldn't give me a test drive, you work on commissions don't you? Big mistake!"

KennethL | 19. März 2013

I think the M3 - Tesla transition is going to be pretty common.

I've had an M3 for three years now. M-DCT transmission. THe works. I came to it from a 550. I love(d) the M3. It's a great car, with excellent performance characteristics. I've been a BMW owner since 1977 (320i). I've owned a number of 3 and 5 series cars. All great.

About two months ago the local BMW dealer called to ask what I wanted when the M3 lease runs out in May. I told him that after getting 11 cars from him I was leaving the church and moving over to Tesla.

I've had a Roadster for about 15 months, and took delivery of a Model S yesterday. The quick (one day of driving) comparison is:

1) Performance

No question here. The S outperforms the M3. This is really a function of the torque curve. To get comparable performance from the M3 you have to switch to "M" mode, and get the revs up, and then shift through the gears. No such thing here. Want to go fast - just hit the pedal.

2) Size

The S feels larger than the 550. It's way bigger than the M3.

3) Handling

The S feels like it leans less than the M3. It certainly holds the road comparably. I'm not quite ready to push it to its limits. I'll report more on that later.

4) Electro-Elegance

Hands down the "S" it's miles beyond BMW. The bavarians do a great job with mechanics, but definitely struggle with UI design, elecronics etc.

5) Maintenance

This is really the killer. I've switched BMWs every three years because I didn't want to risk ever having one that was out of warranty. No such worry with the Tesla. My hope is that I can hang on to his guy for quite a few years longer than I would ever dare keep any BMW, let alone a high performance one with a transmission as complex as the M-DCT.

Hope this helps


AndrewM | 19. März 2013

@KennethL - do you have the Performance Model S? Reason I ask is if the non-perf is an M3 beater then that's all I need.

dstiavnicky | 19. März 2013

You are such a goner!
Put the ad in the paper for your M3 before the test drive. I trader my 911 4S cab...

M3Michael | 20. März 2013

Thank you all for your helpful, well thought out and entertaining comments. it is obvious that this car has left deep impressions on its owners an future owners (and most of the automobile establishment). I thought that M3 drivers loved their cars - but you are all besotted, and I mean that in a good way. I am almost afraid to drive that thing. Facing what is probably the inevitable, I have called my insurance carrier, State Farm, and the premium for a 2013 P85 is only a little more than for my 2008 M. That was a bit of a shock to me really, I was expecting much worse. My only other worry is the size and heft of the car after my M3. The M is so sharp and nimble - but I can probably adapt. This is, after all, a paradigm shift. It's a brave new world. I guess I better take my checkbook along for the test drive Sunday.

Michael (We'll see how long it stays M3Michael)

baddtz | 20. März 2013

they take credit cards for the deposit as well.

Ohms.Law | 20. März 2013

This has been a great thread. Thank you to Michael for posing the question and all who have responded. I'm living vicariously through all of you and your experiences.

Still waiting... (2 years tomorrow). Red

araissi | 20. März 2013

I dont have an M3 but just traded in my Cadillac CTS-V (manual transmission) and got the model S performance. I love everything about the Tesla with the exception of the suspension. It is very good but not as good as the CTS-V which had the magnetic ride. I know most people wont drive at these speed but I feel as if the Tesla gets 'loose' a bit at 85+ mph where the Caddi did it at 95-100.

Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. I just need to figure out what commands the voice activation accepts.

kilimats | 20. März 2013

@ Ohms.Law

you placed your reservation 2 years ago and you are still waiting? why are some people getting theirs after only 4 or 5 months? is it because of that RED color? if so i find it very silly to wait so long just for having a diff color imo...

Captain_Zap | 20. März 2013

Red is the only REAL color available.

Brian H | 20. März 2013

It came late, and has to await clearing the Paint Center of the last of the Signature Reds for Europe to make room in the lineup. Someday they'll have another Center and be able to offer more colours, I expect. (I think 10 is the limit right now.)

Ohms.Law | 20. März 2013


I, like many others even longer ago, ordered my car before production began. The plan back then was to order gray. Then in early December when they opened up orders for the new red ("the only real color", thank you Captain_Zap), I changed my order. So it's looking like April if we all are lucky. As many, very many, have said before: the wait is worth it. I'm sure I'll agree!

christine_orita | 20. März 2013

M3Michael, I was a little nervous reading some of the forum threads about how fast the car is and how you got to watch not clipping someone in front of you when changing lanes and stuff like that because of the acceleration and the hefty size.

Well, for someone who was a little unnerved, it took no time to get used to it. It is sooo easy to adapt to the S.

I am keeping an ICE car for business driving (I get mileage plus I didn't want to run up the mileage on my S) and Gawd! it is PAINFUL!! The feeling is I can't wait till I am back with my S.

Once you've had a taste of it, nothing else can even come close, EVER!