Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cross Shopping an e92 M3 and a R35 GT-R

I'm privileged in the sense that I've owned both an e92 M3 and R35 GT-R, one after another. Maybe I can provide an objective review of both vehicles and help calm the waters that seem to be bubbling in the forums these days on people cross shopping the two.

I stepped into the world of BMW after a stint in the Audi scene (2005 S4 to be exact), an extremely costly maintenance stint. Being a little short-sighted, fueled by Audi frustrations, I honed in on the M3 without doing much cross shopping. I didn't bother looking at anything resembling an automatic which threw out Mercedes (c63 AMG) and Lexus (IS-F), both extremely sexy cars, which were really the only competitors in that price range. The BMW 335is had just come out, which I was allowed to test drive but the fact that regular 3-series cars are everywhere in the north east, swayed my decision to go with a loaded M3. Well, that and the price difference between the 335is and a loaded M3 was on the order of $10,000 - something I was very willing to spend knowing the ///M racing heritage and aggressive, yet sleek styling on the M3. That's not the whole truth, a guy I worked with just picked up a 335i and I wasn't about to get the same car as him!

The M3 was my first new car buying experience and boy was it informative. Hours spent searching online, gathering details on how I could squeeze every cent out of that dealer and get the best price. When I showed up at the dealer, I came prepared with invoice pricing sheets, offers from internet dealers, even my fancy pad folio and $50 pen to seal the deal. I was a little turned off by this specific dealer because it was obvious that I knew more of the technical details concerning the car than he did, often misquoting product details or flaunting their dealership's "Gold Sales Status" or some other fake sounding award. It's a little weird, only because every BMW dealership I have ever been to brags about how they are the best one around in sales and service - give me a break, not everyone can be the best. One demerit
Flip the tides and start talking about the Nissan dealership that I bought my GT-R from. The salesman claimed to be one of three people at the dealer that were allowed to move GT-R's around on the lot - the other two were the owner of the dealership and the tech, which is apparently pretty standard. Knew everything there was to know about the car. Extreme low-pressure sale and limited negotiating required to close the deal. I followed a similar approach with other available cars in the area, pricing, etc. Other than the difficulty in finding a mint GT-R, the entire process was painless.

With BMW came an extremely personalized run through of all the cool gadgets, gizmos, pressure switches, and buttons found through out the cabin. Details that would all require a run through of the user manual to get back to the same screens.
Just by glancing at the interior you see two different pictures, that of a refined German sports car with extensive attention paid to detail, the fit-and-finish contrasted against a raw, clunky feeling interior littered with cheap buttons and knobs found in the Nissan, even the abnormally large 'Bose' emblem plastered directly below the CD area wreaks of cheap style. I have to give the leg up in terms of electronics to the GT-R, real-time customizable sensor readings (really just a cool factor), and lets not forget the time saving touchscreen which is eons ahead of iDrive's knob twisting. The fatty ///M steering wheel is something that I found missing after heading to the dark side. Forget about trying to use the backseats of the GT-R for any adult - I'm 6'3'' and there is literally 2inches of leg room directly behind me when I'm all setup, good thing it's my car and I'm always the one driving it! Cabin noise seems to be a common complaint for GT-R passengers but when you're going for speed you need to skimp on sound proofing and go for big tires to keep sending power to the pavement consistently.

The s65 motor in the M3 is an awesome, high revving V8 that sounded like pure sex at the 8,300 redline but lacked any real killing power on the streets, especially in a younger area riddled with STI's, Evo's, and bad ass modded 335i's making more power than you. Hell, I got beat up on by a turbo Integra one night. The 0-60 of 3.9 is what is published everywhere but can't confirm as I  had the 6 speed and those numbers where for the DCT version. In terms of modifications, there isn't much room to play in the engine bay limiting your options. Sure you could do a full exhaust, tune, and a few other little things but you'd be hard pressed to make more than 400rwhp (stock cars will dyno at around 300-340rwhp). Yea, there is always the blower option which would put you into the 550ish range and lots of people have had great success going that route. It's a fight to get any sort of real power out of the car without heading down the supercharger road. It was the fastest car I had ever been in - that is until I took the GT-R for a spin

What the GT-R lacks in luxury items it makes up for in raw performance, even in porker status (3,800 curb weight - so figure 4,200 after fuel and a passenger). In stock form, you'll find most R35 GT-R's making 400-430awhp for the 2010 model year (that's the year that I have). Certainly nothing to sneeze at, especially with the quoted 0-60 time of 3.5 which I have found to be extremely consistent (it's an 'automatic' remember). Pump a little bit of money into her, figure $4,000 if you do your own labor and this beast is quickly at the 550awhp mark (93oct, y-pipe, downpipes, tune, intake, 1000cc injectors) which turns the car into a high 10 second beast (just like in 'fast and the furious') - fast enough to embarrass almost anything on the road. Of course you can get really crazy and go with different turbos and supporting mods and beat up on 'busas on the highways but I'm not going to go there because of costs (figure another 15-30k depending on how crazy you want to get).

Purist seem to hate the GT-R because of the gear box, claiming "the car has no soul" as you effortlessly fly through a corner with instant shifts and practically point-and-shoot mentality. These fan boys associate the difficulty in driving a vehicle to how 'pure' a car is which to me is stupid. If technology progression is a bad thing, we wouldn't have cars with turbos or limited slip differentials or air conditioning while running down a track at 120mph on a 100 degree day. What a lot of these fan boys don't understand is that the GT-R's transmission *is* essentially a manual transmission that is computer controlled. Gear selection is a breeze and while there are some disconcerting noises when stopped or in slow traffic from the rear located tranny, it functions better than any human could control.
Ok, ok I know every car magazine and review out there talks about how fast of a car the GT-R is, I certainly agree. What they never talk about is the attention the thing gets by the general public. I rocked the M3 for just over a year, getting a few thumbs up by car guys on the road and general 'nice car' comments at local car meets. What the M3 lacked was any sort of recognition for the race heritage behind the ///M brand. Sure, car nuts knew the difference and what it was, but at the end of the day the general public is just ignorant to an M3 being any different than a 3-series. It has the stigma of being an executive hauler, an 'old man car' as one of my less informed friends put it (being as only older males are typically seen driving them).

The GT-R was a completely different beast. Driving around town you get the stares and the attention of an uber-exotic. On the highway, in parking lots, basically anywhere you can find people, there will be people taking pictures of it. Car meets are even better with comments like "this is my dream car" or my personal favorite "why didn't you get a lambo or a ferrari instead". Ok, I know the second comment came from a guy that had no understanding to the cost of cars but the image was still there - that the GT-R possesses the same image as high end exotics on the road.  Even people that know nothing about the car will approach and ask questions about it. It's always a new adventure being in public with the GT-R.

All in all, your decision to cross shop an M3 and a GT-R is purely an artificial one. The M3 is highly refined, overall luxury car with a little bit of pep when you need it while the GT-R is an attention grabbing performance beast. If I had to choose one car for a daily driver, it would be hands down the M3. But being that I'm young and reckless (owning a second vehicle helps too), I'll keep the GT-R in my stable for a long time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Diablo 3: Magic Find Debate

I was a huge fan of Diablo2:LoD back in my high school days. Some friends from school got me hooked and I couldn't stop playing, even while I was at school. Having gotten rushed to hell by friends and countless hours in the Secret Cow Level, I had nearly an ultimate account:
  • Lvl 99 Whirlwind Barb with enough life leech to heal almost instantly
  • Lvl 99 Breath of the Dying Hydra bow Amazon with crazy IAS to mow down them cows
  • Lvl 99 Breath of the Dying Hammerdin that was doing 5k 1 hand damage
  • Lvl 99 MF Sorc with over 1000mf+
I'll admit, I was a bit obsessed over the game. Heck, the one day I found 2 Windforces and a Grandfather - hardest items in the game to find. I didn't get to the 'top' of the food chain by playing fair or being nice to people. I'll admit that I used less-than-admirable means when the occasion presented itself:
  • Joined a game where someone was using his friend to transfer items to another character. Waited for the one guy to leave. Went up to his friend and said "ok, im ready" to have his friend give me all the other guy's stuff. Social engineering at its finest
  • .08 Unidentified vamp gaze (not really one, had found with 28 durability and sold it as one) Buyer not happy!
  • Botted nearly all day while I was at school. 
  • Even got in on the dupe'ing bandwagon while it was working
So now that I've taken a trip down memory lane, let's look at the new controversial magic find changes that Blizzard has made for Diablo 3. Rather than using personal magic find, magic find is now averaged across the group. At first, this really annoyed me, afterall I loved my magic find runs! But what annoyed me even more were the people that were talking down to people who pursued magic find, often saying that people who focus on magic find somehow have 'nerfed' DPS - total lies.

MF cannot appear on weapons, something already data mined by various other sites.You will notice that MF can appear on everything else, meaning that one of the attributes will be consumed by magic find, in each slot on a true magic find character. While, in the early game, characters will need to choose between items that increase DPS versus increase MF, late game this will become moot. Think about how many items that you have found or heard about in the beta that are things like + health from globes or +Gold pickup radius that could easily be swapped out from an MF attribute (assuming you put in the time locating items to replace it).

Ok, so we've proven that MF gear is the same as non-MF gear atleast in the end game. What about the shared aspect of it? What will happen is, that characters looking to perform MF runs will start their own games together and go on their merry way. Bottom line is, MF sharing won't matter if you find friends with similar interests to play with (MF) since it will be beneficial in the form of more/better item drops by having more people in a game together.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The results

Compare with my predictions...

Washington--Romney, Paul, Santorum, Gingrich (67% correct)

Georgia--Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, Paul (100% correct)
Idaho--Romney, Paul, Santorum, Gingrich (100% correct)
Massachusetts--Romney, Santorum, Paul, Gingrich (100% correct)
North Dakota--Santorum, Paul, Romney, Gingrich (83% correct)
Ohio--Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul (100% correct)
Oklahoma--Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Paul (83% correct)
Tennessee--Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Paul (100% correct)
Vermont--Romney, Paul, Santorum, Gingrich (83% correct)
Virginia--Romney, Paul (100% correct)

That's 92% correct overall. If you just count Super Tuesday states, I was 94% correct. A/A- seems fair.

Note also that these contests could've played out in one of over 2.6 trillion different ways. Come on...fives.