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Autoreply 11-08-2011 03:11 PM

Perspectives On the F30
 
Hi,

Below is an article I wrote for my blog. Feel free to comment, share your opinions, or ask questions. Enjoy!





BMW released the new 3 Series on October 14th. After years of research and development, the automaker hopes to continue the success of the previous iteration.

New to BMW with both the new F20 1 series, and the F30 3 series, are different "equipment lines". While this tactic has been offered by competitors such as Mercedes, (C-Class Luxury and Sport Variants) Audi (Premium, Premium Plus, Prestige) along with others, BMW has traditionally been unique in the class with their abundant order combinations. Although US specs have yet to be released, it is unlikely that you will be able to get for example, the aggressive sport variant with a Saddle interior and walnut trim. This is really a shame as some customers might want a more custom specification which is no longer available as the packages will probably have restrictions.

While the new combination limitations might be disappointing, one area to applaud BMW is on the new chassis. BMW has been designing their product with a more luxury and comfort emphasis, while losing their distinctive sporty traits. Unlike other recently released products, (5, 6, X3) the 3 series manages to actually LOSE weight in comparison to the the previous generation, the E90!!! Hopefully, this translates into a sportier car which handles just as well as the praised E90 and still maintains the sporty ride. In their press release, BMW emphasizes that their car is as dynamic as ever. Many customers choose the 3 series solely because it is the most "athletic" car in the segment and hopefully BMW recognizes this and engineered the car to fit this need, suspension tunings included. That being said, it would be nice to know that BMW finally got an electronic steering system right. Ever since BMW has introduced electronic steering in an effort to reduce fuel consumption, their cars' steering has been severely criticized. BMW should have had sufficient practice with the system and fine tuned it enough to maintain the 3 series trademark steering, despite switching to an electronic system.

Lastly, while the loss of a naturally aspirated engine is a shame, hopefully the new I4 will be a good replacement! In the coming weeks we will know more about the vehicle. BMW claims to have greatly improved their most important product, but only time will tell.

hpowders 11-08-2011 06:28 PM

We can only hope that the new 3 Series is an improvement on the outgoing E9x. I'm not so sure, given the electronic steering.

Autoreply 11-08-2011 07:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hpowders (Post 6429465)
We can only hope that the new 3 Series is an improvement on the outgoing E9x. I'm not so sure, given the electronic steering.

This is BMW's volume model after all so it should have had a huge R&D budget. Therefore, I hope it is a better car overall. Yes, we will have to wait to see if BMW could finally get an electronic steering system right.

hpowders 11-12-2011 06:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Autoreply (Post 6429679)
This is BMW's volume model after all so it should have had a huge R&D budget. Therefore, I hope it is a better car overall. Yes, we will have to wait to see if BMW could finally get an electronic steering system right.

I agree. It's BMW's bread and butter model. They screw this one up and the reviews are mostly negative, it will hurt their bottom line.

Autoreply 11-13-2011 08:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hpowders (Post 6437630)
I agree. It's BMW's bread and butter model. They screw this one up and the reviews are mostly negative, it will hurt their bottom line.

Very true, but I confident that will not be the case.

e46_325xi 11-14-2011 10:04 AM

If the new 4-cyl 5-series provides any indication, the new 4-cyl 3 series will perhaps give you some greater kick starting from 0mph, BUT those who loved the rush of the 2nd kick from 60mph to 100mph will miss that dearly in the 4-cyl engine.

Autoreply 11-14-2011 02:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by e46_325xi (Post 6440260)
If the new 4-cyl 5-series provides any indication, the new 4-cyl 3 series will perhaps give you some greater kick starting from 0mph, BUT those who loved the rush of the 2nd kick from 60mph to 100mph will miss that dearly in the 4-cyl engine.

Yes...the engine has been noted for its torquey low end, sacrificing the high revving nature of a NA engine.

Saintor 11-14-2011 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by e46_325xi (Post 6440260)
If the new 4-cyl 5-series provides any indication, the new 4-cyl 3 series will perhaps give you some greater kick starting from 0mph, BUT those who loved the rush of the 2nd kick from 60mph to 100mph will miss that dearly in the 4-cyl engine.

Totally misleading.

Believe it or not, turbo don't help on 5-60mph. The reason why they get good 0-60mph is because you can cheat at pre-compressing RPM like nobody would do in normal spirited driving.

For example, the Z4 N20 gets a great 5.6s 0-60mph and a ordinary 7.1s 5-60mph, same as a 528i N52. The 528i N20 should not do any better.

hpowders 11-18-2011 07:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Autoreply (Post 6439491)
Very true, but I confident that will not be the case.

C&D already criticized the F30 for its steering, brakes and suspension.

Autoreply 11-19-2011 07:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hpowders (Post 6448561)
C&D already criticized the F30 for its steering, brakes and suspension.

Strangely enough, C&D was the only negative review that I read. All others were for the most part positive about the aspects you mentioned.

dtc100 11-19-2011 08:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Autoreply (Post 6450468)
Strangely enough, C&D was the only negative review that I read. All others were for the most part positive about the aspects you mentioned.

Positive in what context?

So far the Autocar review is the most positive. One reason was because, according to him, the steering was so light, the gas peddle so delicate, it felt like being a passenger.

I suppose if you like to drive an E or C class, the bigger 3 has finally caught up, so you are correct. Someone who loves to drive an E or C would find the F30 making very positive gains.

Maybe this is what BMW intended, so they succeeded. But why should I move from my E90 to F30 next time? Why not just get a C350, or E350?

hpowders 11-19-2011 11:37 AM

Sounds like the E90 is better than the F30 as to brakes, steering, suspension and road feel. Why indeed should any of us move to the F30 from the E90? I might as well get a freakin' VW GTI!

hpowders 11-19-2011 11:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Autoreply (Post 6450468)
Strangely enough, C&D was the only negative review that I read. All others were for the most part positive about the aspects you mentioned.

My problem with that is I'm pretty much in synch with C&D reviews over the years. I definitely plan to drive an F30 next year. I'm sure the one I'm offered as a demo will be "Luxury" or "Modern", both as in "Boring".

hpowders 11-19-2011 11:48 AM

I'm having a lot of trouble getting past those atrocious looking headlights. Reminds me of those ghastly headlights on the E60 5 Series. I don't want "angry-looking".

Autoreply 11-19-2011 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dtc100 (Post 6450490)
Positive in what context?

So far the Autocar review is the most positive. One reason was because, according to him, the steering was so light, the gas peddle so delicate, it felt like being a passenger.

I suppose if you like to drive an E or C class, the bigger 3 has finally caught up, so you are correct. Someone who loves to drive an E or C would find the F30 making very positive gains.

Maybe this is what BMW intended, so they succeeded. But why should I move from my E90 to F30 next time? Why not just get a C350, or E350?

I disagree completely. While the 5 and X3 have definitely moved towards a more luxury oriented audience, the 3 seems to have maintained its sporty appeal in most applications. And yes while the steering is not as "heavy" as before many have said that is still very precise while offering decent feedback.

As per automobile magazine:
"Paired with the manual, the turbo four is even quicker, reaching 60 mph in 5.7 seconds (0.6 second quicker than before)...We have no such reservations about the suspension, which exhibits all the athleticism we’ve come to expect here. That was particularly in evidence over five rainy laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, where the new 3 really came into its own. The steering, which we had been thinking was a bit less communicative than the delightfully informative system in the previous car, here conveyed plenty of info about the front tires’ tenuous relationship with the wet tarmac. The chassis balance (weight distribution is 50:50) was also evident, helping us on the slick circuit to keep the car in the narrow band between front-end push and power oversteer."

I'm not going to quote every single review, but know there are more positives out there. It is important to remember that these reviews are very subjective. As a result, we will both have to wait until February where we can form our own opinions.

Autoreply 11-19-2011 02:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hpowders (Post 6450853)
My problem with that is I'm pretty much in synch with C&D reviews over the years. I definitely plan to drive an F30 next year. I'm sure the one I'm offered as a demo will be "Luxury" or "Modern", both as in "Boring".

I would assume at least one of the three launch vehicles that each dealer will receive will be a sport model.

dtc100 11-19-2011 03:36 PM

Autoreply, what you had quoted had nothing to do with whether the car is a driver's car, or more a passenger's car, a point I was making based on the most positive (Autocar) review so far.

As I said in another thread, about the only positive thing I read of the new 328i is its 0-60, and the tuning potential that will make the 0-60 better.

But you know and I know 0-60 is hardly the measure to define a driver's car. Just head out to a drag race event, I challenge you to find a few you would call a driver's car.:)

The quote you used demonstrated the new 328i's good wet traction on a track. Again this is hardly something people traditionally looked for in a 3. If I wanted that I would have gone with the A4.

I didn't get the RWD 328i to drive in the rain. Not that you did not raise a good point, better traction on wet tarmac is a good thing. Just that it is not one of the measures that defines a driver's car.

This is why I asked, positive in what "context?"

Autoreply 11-19-2011 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dtc100 (Post 6451193)
Autoreply, what you had quoted had nothing to do with whether the car is a driver's car, or more a passenger's car, a point I was making based on the most positive (Autocar) review so far.

As I said in another thread, about the only positive thing I read of the new 328i is its 0-60, and the tuning potential that will make the 0-60 better.

But you know and I know 0-60 is hardly the measure to define a driver's car. Just head out to a drag race event, I challenge you to find a few you would call a driver's car.:)

The quote you used demonstrated the new 328i's good wet traction on a track. Again this is hardly something people traditionally looked for in a 3. If I wanted that I would have gone with the A4.

I didn't get the RWD 328i to drive in the rain. Not that you did not raise a good point, better traction on wet tarmac is a good thing. Just that it is not one of the measures that defines a driver's car.

This is why I asked, positive in what "context?"

The section of the Autocar review you brought up earlier was referring to the car's normal mode. It goes on to say that the car feels more "alive" in sport mode.

I agree that 0-60 is an irrelevant characteristic of a "driver's car", but strong acceleration is nice to have. I think that this generation of the 3, just like every other generation, is the most driver oriented in comparison its competitors. This is a sedan not an extremely expensive weekend track toy so naturally there are some inherent compromises.

Unfortunately, you, myself, and other car enthusiasts only gross a small percentage of 3 series sales. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that BMW designed this car for a large range of audiences, some of whom are looking for a very actively and passively safe car.

A comparison is to the owner of 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (What I consider the epitome of the drivers car) whose main concern is of performance. This owner will accept sacrifice numerous things in interest of the most pure car out there.

The 3 series was not made solely for performance so I think one must be lenient with their criticism and remember that it maintains its superiority in driving dynamics when compared to rivals.

hpowders 11-19-2011 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Autoreply (Post 6451112)
I would assume at least one of the three launch vehicles that each dealer will receive will be a sport model.

We can only hope!

Modern and Luxury. They sound so un-BMW-like.

dtc100 11-19-2011 06:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Autoreply (Post 6451298)
The section of the Autocar review you brought up earlier was referring to the car's normal mode. It goes on to say that the car feels more "alive" in sport mode.

I agree that 0-60 is an irrelevant characteristic of a "driver's car", but strong acceleration is nice to have. I think that this generation of the 3, just like every other generation, is the most driver oriented in comparison its competitors. This is a sedan not an extremely expensive weekend track toy so naturally there are some inherent compromises.

Unfortunately, you, myself, and other car enthusiasts only gross a small percentage of 3 series sales. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that BMW designed this car for a large range of audiences, some of whom are looking for a very actively and passively safe car.

A comparison is to the owner of 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (What I consider the epitome of the drivers car) whose main concern is of performance. This owner will accept sacrifice numerous things in interest of the most pure car out there.

The 3 series was not made solely for performance so I think one must be lenient with their criticism and remember that it maintains its superiority in driving dynamics when compared to rivals.

I am not here to trash the F30 at all. Believe me I want to love it. It is to my benefit if it turns out to be as much a driver's car as my current E90, while adding more comfort and gadgets for the family.

But review after review, I have sensed that the things that define our 3 in terms of driving dynamics (the unique steering feel as an example) are giving way so other priorities can be met.

I know it is a business decision, I don't blame them.

Autoreply 11-20-2011 08:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dtc100 (Post 6451442)
But review after review, I have sensed that the things that define our 3 in terms of driving dynamics (the unique steering feel as an example) are giving way so other priorities can be met.

Sadly this seems to happen every time there is a redesign.

Michael Schott 11-20-2011 02:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dtc100 (Post 6451442)
I am not here to trash the F30 at all. Believe me I want to love it. It is to my benefit if it turns out to be as much a driver's car as my current E90, while adding more comfort and gadgets for the family.

But review after review, I have sensed that the things that define our 3 in terms of driving dynamics (the unique steering feel as an example) are giving way so other priorities can be met.

I know it is a business decision, I don't blame them.

I think that as you say this is your sense and not at least IMO the predominant thought in the reviews so far. As a matter of fact most say it's the best 3 series yet and these are enthusiast reviewers.

I know there are some that feel the 3 series should not have too much luxury and should be the modern interpretation of the 2002tii. The F30 is the latest version of the 3 series which means it has to appeal to a wide demographic regarding gadgets but still has the key dynamics that makes it the best luxury sport sedan in its price range.

johnc_22 11-20-2011 05:02 PM

I say drive it and see for yourself. Only you use your car like you do and so only you can decide whether the F30 does what you need it to do better or worse than previous models.

PhillyNate 11-20-2011 05:06 PM

Since I've owned a 328i I'm concerned with 2 things on the upcoming F30. #1 The steering feel resulting from the adoption of electric steering. #2 Everything concerning the new N20 engine except power and torque numbers. Particularly the longevity and/or durability of the engine/parts and to a lesser extent the sound of the engine.
This guy below has none of those reservations. From what he says it's a keeper. Bravo BMW. I was scared they'd F this up but at least for now everythings ok. Consumers will have the final say though.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-9xcwd6sY0

jzcrna 11-20-2011 06:04 PM

I think that this car is everything that it should be. I would have never even thought of getting a four cylinder BMW. However, after watching the autocar video review I am sold. people just have to get it out of their heads and realize that this isn't conventional thinking.People are going to know after driving that this is a new era of low displacement engines that are true performers. I laugh every time I see people complain about new design, more electronics, etc. BMW is still a business who creates the ultimate driving machine while staying ahead of the competition. more features, bring 'em on!! The 328i is going to convert a lot of people from 335is as well as 528is. I think that with the lower weight and increase in size it appeals to a large demographic and will be the est selling 3 series-ever.


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