Friday, March 27, 2009
Cobra < M3
So, I test drove an '04 Cobra and an '02 M3. Here's my report:
Ok, here's the Hechtspeed Review of the '03 Cobra 6 speed in white (that's right Rick, the best car color) with 78k miles for $15k.
Open the door, put the seat back all the way, hey, doesn't this thing go back further. Oh well, its a Cobra, who cares. Start it up, huh, that's quiet, must have stock exhaust. Let clutch out to back out. I feel a little thud. Hmm, its a Cobra who cares. First gear, pull to the lot exit of this little Used Car dealer of highend cars (also selling a black Z06, a red Porsche with aftermarket wheels, an M5 and an M3 (more on this beaut' later), etc. I pull out and feel another clunk when the rear gears begin forward motion. Lame, this thing must have been beatin' on. Dang.... :( Ok, just putting around because its about 43 degrees outside and this thing hasn't warmed up yet. Come to a stop after getting to 2nd gear. Brakes feel pretty good. On the walk around I saw it has drilled rotors and the 275's on the front and 245's on the rear (huh?). Next street, I get up to 2 and ease into 'er. Yeah, there's the Cobra! The boost guage is a dial from 0-10psi. It saw about 3 psi on that little ease job. Stoplight, turn right and get into 'er again just a little. Nice blower whine, that was cool. I gave it a little mini slalom just to get an idea for its steering feel. At this point the car is feeling really heavy. Everything is heavy and stiff. The clutch is pretty stiff. The shifter is super solid. I don't think anyone makes shifter feel better than Honda and Mustang V8's. Anyway, back to the Terminator. ;) Even the ebrake was tough to pull up on. Geez! So, I sit at a light a few cars back. Green and just a block up ahead is a quick onramp offramp setup. So, green at the onramp (about 4pm, so the meter light is on). Small clutch slip as I'm on the throttle and lay into 'er. First went by pretty quick, second gear and I take her up to 6k (she still had another 1k rpm or so in her I think) and the blower is whinin' good and she's putting me in the seat nice, got up to 70 in no time and I up shift to 4, 5, and 6 to make sure all gears are good, right? :) Then its quick rev matching and downshifting because I'm on the offramp already. ;) (Ben, you remember this little jaunt in Bountiful when you took me for a right in the Camaro? :) The offramp has a bend and I jabbed the thrrotle again and stopped at the light. A few more streets back and I'm back to home base. Man this car is a tank. It's a pig until you nail the throttle. At this point I'm not feeling the car. Sorry bro and pap. But this thing is not my style. It's a straight line monster no doubt, but its no fun to "drive". Everything is stiff, heavy, hard. The seating position was worse than in my Mustang GT I guess because the seat has more bolstering/padding? and doesn't feel comfy and tight like the EVO, Suby or SRT seats feel. The steering wheel is slow, no feeling, and no telescoping adjustment at all. The shifter feels like its a mile away. That clunk in the rear end doesn't feel positive either. Probably wornout IRS bushings or gear slop after all those launches. So, a big thumbs down. For taking a test drive, pretty fun and beasty, but not me. Bro and Dad you guys would dig, but Ben I've got another test drive for you. See below:
So, I ask for a test drive in the M3, a 2002 with 47k miles, silver (second best car color eh), 6 speed manual. Looks stock. I start it up and I here this swanky 3.2L dohc in line 6 cylinder. I idle it for a minute. While waiting for this beauty of german engineering to warm up, I dial in the perfect go kart seating position. Legs slightly bent, wheel closer to my chest since it has telescoping wheel. Put her in reverse to back out. Turn the wheel and say "man, this wheel keeps turning" unlike the cobra which seems to stop after one turn. Give a little throttle and the response seems slow and a little like my civic below 2000. Pull up to the lot exit and stay in first to the stopsign half a block away because it seems to like life at 3500-4000. Come to the lstop and begin breaking and geez, the brakes are right now. Much more feel with less pedal movement. The car already feels lighter. The clutch is like 3 times as light as the cobra (notice its a lower case "c"). The shifter is much easier to move, although not as solid as even my civic, but better than a wrx. So, I'm in 2nd and give it a little push on the go pedal. That swanky (this is the word that best describes this beauty) 6 is a revver. It's sort of like a honda how it doesn't have much below like 3-4k. I get to the right hander and then do the same mini slalom to feel the steering. I'll tell you what, the M3 was better than the cobra, but still not EVO steering. So, I get to the drag launch light at the onramp. I go for it pretty decent. I took it up to about 7k (redlines at 8000). When I was in second that swanky exhaust note and intake note are music to my ears and that pull at about 4500 to 7000 was awesome. It felt almost as fast as the cobra. It is ranked at 333hp/260tq vs Cobras 400/400hp/tq. Overall the difference for me was the light feel and the willingness to be driven. Can't explain it any better. This car just made me want to keep driving it. I wanted to take a longer test drive, try out more roads. So, I got up to about 70mph on the onramp/offramp thing and came to that bending offramp and was rev matching and it was just so fun. That thing is cool! Too bad they're asking $24k. ;( (good deal I guess, but you can get a nice used evo or sti for that). The M3 when putting around in low revs is a doll. Feels like the 328i I drove in late '08. Real pedestrian and quiet, easy to drive. When you open up that swanky 6, that's pure sauciness. Love it!
Verdict? M3 kills it. As I gave the M3 key back to the guy, he asked how it was and I said, well that ruled out the cobra! ;) So that's it my friends. M3 wins. Cobra out of my mind. Ultimate Driving Machine? Yes. So, where does this leave me? I will say that the new '05-09 Mustang GT and Bullit I drove felt more fun to drive than the Cobra. Plus at 300 hp on 87 octane, that's a much better driver than the Cobra when you consider gas and insurance. The Cobra is for hard core Mustang guys for sure. That car needs an intake, exhaust, pulley and tune to really wake it up and make it worth the tankiness it has. It needs to be on the 1/4 mile. It's no good anywhere else. So, I think my choice of my next car will be an EVO/M3 as first choice and an STi/05-09 Mustang GT as second and a WRX and Civic Si third.