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-   -   2013 328i (F30) - One month of ownership (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=648925)

brkf 09-29-2012 01:58 PM

2013 328i (F30) - One month of ownership
 
A month ago I picked up my 2013 F30 328i. It's got a few add-ons but nothing major - Sportline, 6MT, PDC/Camera, Everest leather, seat heaters, sunshades, aluminum trim, Melbourne Red paint. It's a lease because I tend to change cars every two years.

Pros:
* 6 MT - ah feels like home. Familiar long BMW throws and vague shifter action but I know this feeling so well that even a mediocre manual feels better than the 3 years of automatic purgatory I endured.
* RWD - again, just feels right.
* BMW seats - once again, they just feel right.
* BMW controls/switches - everything falls to hand nicely and feels good. The interior's a step up from the e90 but still a downgrade from the e46.
* PDC/Camera - nice to have when you're driving a car with this much size and such vague steering.
* Trunk - tons of nooks and crannies, lots of hooks and overall a nice trunk.

Cons:
* N20 engine's got a nice bit of power but the narrow powerband's getting on my nerves. Owned many turbo cars and while this is better than my N54, it's still not an exhilarating engine. Lacking in a sharp torque curve or any drama it's a workman-like engine.
* Auto Start-stop - the whole car shakes like a broken washing machine when it starts up at a light. Yikes, who allowed this into production? My mother-in-law's Kenmore-esque Toyota Prius has this feature too; only it's with 1/10th the drama.
* Steering - no matter that setting, BMW's apparently clueless about how to do EPS. In terms of feedback and control this even makes my Cooper S (on Sport), seem like a genius implementation.
* Leather - each generation BMW seems to get a cheaper quality leather. At this point this leather is one step above pleather.
* Size: great googly-moogly, was this thing built for typical Americans? Seems so given the plus size dimensions.

After a month, I'm happy to be out of my last car and once again in a manual, RWD BMW. There are smells and sensations that work. The driver position and ergonomics offer a big jump over the flat-wide e90s I've owned. The rear seat is perfect for my 3 year old; he loves the rear HVAC. when my next kid is born in December the shades will be handy for her. For the driver the seats grab on, the shifter's close at hand and it all works as I'd expect from a BMW. Heel-toe's still an option with pedal placement, though the narrow powerband of the clattery N20 means it's not something you can play with much. Still hit a corner right and the RWD/chassis will just motor you through with that re-assuring smoothness BMW' probably patented.

Because the car's grown so much over previous 3s it looks and feels like a midsize family sedan. There's a slight sporting edge but overall the car just gives a sense of a sturdy, solid boat. It never shrinks around the driver and although the numbers obviously indicate it's a sharp handler, it never really feels ready to slice nimbly through the curves. It will dance on some tight roads but the over-boosted, extremely artificial steering and the car's extreme size mean it always feels like a trick of electronics, not a reflection of supreme chassis tuning or driver involvement. Given the lack of quality in this area for all competitors BMW still reigns supreme but I've heard the ATS may finally supplant it...

The new suspension and Gen 3 RFTs provide a more relaxed level of passenger comfort My wife loves it. I find the suspension spongy and tuned far too much to luxury. Tried the active suspension on a bad road in the sticks before buying and even at the tightest setting that too gave too much of a Buick impression. For comparison sake, my ZHP always struck me a little marshmallowy, so this is positively 5 series-like. Again, family likes it; I can live with it.

Approaching the car, I'm still in the shrug phase with the exterior. The e90s never appealed to me visually. This car presents better, with a finished look but nothing about it has the chiseled, sinewy appeal of the e46 or the tight lines of the e30. Probably the second least appealing 3 series to look at after the e90. You know it's a BMW when you approach it; just it's one of the newer ones with less character or style. If I grow to love the car's abilities, I'm sure I'll draw a tight association to the exterior being special. For now it's a touch over anonymous but nothing that would turn my head on a freeway like an e36 M3.

The engine... well it powers the car. It hasn't done anything untoward yet, so that's a big plus compared to my last 3 series! The clatter doesn't bug me. The lack of engine note does bug me a touch but given how all turbos I've owned lack character, this appears to be the default. BMW's turbos (haven't heard a new M5 yet) thus far all remind me of old diesels, lacking the much sexier exhaust note of any of the NA engines BMW used to sell. The narrow rev range with the manual does get under my skin but I had the same issue with my 335i. Just miss making an engine sing to redline - and feeling that overwhelming sense of delight as power increased through the car. The turbo's supposedly more efficient (24 MPG mostly freeway makes me wonder about that - 2 MPG more than my 335i but with less city driving) and faster than my NA cars but it's not invigorating.

This will do as a family hauler for the next few years. For the wife and kids, they like it and for me it can be a bit playful. I don't park it and look back. When I step into the garage it's an obstacle, not a point of reverence. Rumors abound that the 1 series sedan will be made to combat the new Audi A3 sedan. It's probably too much to hope for an NA engine in an M model 1 sedan in 2016. One can always pray and send emails to BMW. Really the new 3's just capable enough that I wouldn't trade it back in for my old car.

justinnum1 09-29-2012 02:08 PM

Good read.

Saintor 09-29-2012 02:38 PM

Quote:

Owned many turbo cars and while this is better than my N54, it's still not an exhilarating engine
I don't see how it is better than a N54, and the N20 is rather un-BMW.

justinnum1 09-29-2012 02:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Saintor (Post 7104114)
I don't see how it is better than a N54, and the N20 is rather un-BMW.

Offers 80% of the performance of the N54 and gets 35mpg on the highway. Not everything is about engine sound.

SamS 09-29-2012 06:10 PM

Nice review, although you seem rather disappointed overall? Did you not test drive, first? Or consider the 335i?

SD330i 09-29-2012 06:39 PM

See you on the 163 !
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by brkf (Post 7104067)
A month ago I picked up my 2013 F30 328i. It's got a few add-ons but nothing major - Sportline, 6MT, PDC/Camera, Everest leather, seat heaters, sunshades, aluminum trim, Melbourne Red paint. It's a lease because I tend to change cars every two years.

Pros:
* 6 MT - ah feels like home. Familiar long BMW throws and vague shifter action but I know this feeling so well that even a mediocre manual feels better than the 3 years of automatic purgatory I endured.
* RWD - again, just feels right.
* BMW seats - once again, they just feel right.
* BMW controls/switches - everything falls to hand nicely and feels good. The interior's a step up from the e90 but still a downgrade from the e46.
* PDC/Camera - nice to have when you're driving a car with this much size and such vague steering.
* Trunk - tons of nooks and crannies, lots of hooks and overall a nice trunk.

Cons:
* N20 engine's got a nice bit of power but the narrow powerband's getting on my nerves. Owned many turbo cars and while this is better than my N54, it's still not an exhilarating engine. Lacking in a sharp torque curve or any drama it's a workman-like engine.
* Auto Start-stop - the whole car shakes like a broken washing machine when it starts up at a light. Yikes, who allowed this into production? My mother-in-law's Kenmore-esque Toyota Prius has this feature too; only it's with 1/10th the drama.
* Steering - no matter that setting, BMW's apparently clueless about how to do EPS. In terms of feedback and control this even makes my Cooper S (on Sport), seem like a genius implementation.
* Leather - each generation BMW seems to get a cheaper quality leather. At this point this leather is one step above pleather.
* Size: great googly-moogly, was this thing built for typical Americans? Seems so given the plus size dimensions.

After a month, I'm happy to be out of my last car and once again in a manual, RWD BMW. There are smells and sensations that work. The driver position and ergonomics offer a big jump over the flat-wide e90s I've owned. The rear seat is perfect for my 3 year old; he loves the rear HVAC. when my next kid is born in December the shades will be handy for her. For the driver the seats grab on, the shifter's close at hand and it all works as I'd expect from a BMW. Heel-toe's still an option with pedal placement, though the narrow powerband of the clattery N20 means it's not something you can play with much. Still hit a corner right and the RWD/chassis will just motor you through with that re-assuring smoothness BMW' probably patented.

Because the car's grown so much over previous 3s it looks and feels like a midsize family sedan. There's a slight sporting edge but overall the car just gives a sense of a sturdy, solid boat. It never shrinks around the driver and although the numbers obviously indicate it's a sharp handler, it never really feels ready to slice nimbly through the curves. It will dance on some tight roads but the over-boosted, extremely artificial steering and the car's extreme size mean it always feels like a trick of electronics, not a reflection of supreme chassis tuning or driver involvement. Given the lack of quality in this area for all competitors BMW still reigns supreme but I've heard the ATS may finally supplant it...

The new suspension and Gen 3 RFTs provide a more relaxed level of passenger comfort My wife loves it. I find the suspension spongy and tuned far too much to luxury. Tried the active suspension on a bad road in the sticks before buying and even at the tightest setting that too gave too much of a Buick impression. For comparison sake, my ZHP always struck me a little marshmallowy, so this is positively 5 series-like. Again, family likes it; I can live with it.

Approaching the car, I'm still in the shrug phase with the exterior. The e90s never appealed to me visually. This car presents better, with a finished look but nothing about it has the chiseled, sinewy appeal of the e46 or the tight lines of the e30. Probably the second least appealing 3 series to look at after the e90. You know it's a BMW when you approach it; just it's one of the newer ones with less character or style. If I grow to love the car's abilities, I'm sure I'll draw a tight association to the exterior being special. For now it's a touch over anonymous but nothing that would turn my head on a freeway like an e36 M3.

The engine... well it powers the car. It hasn't done anything untoward yet, so that's a big plus compared to my last 3 series! The clatter doesn't bug me. The lack of engine note does bug me a touch but given how all turbos I've owned lack character, this appears to be the default. BMW's turbos (haven't heard a new M5 yet) thus far all remind me of old diesels, lacking the much sexier exhaust note of any of the NA engines BMW used to sell. The narrow rev range with the manual does get under my skin but I had the same issue with my 335i. Just miss making an engine sing to redline - and feeling that overwhelming sense of delight as power increased through the car. The turbo's supposedly more efficient (24 MPG mostly freeway makes me wonder about that - 2 MPG more than my 335i but with less city driving) and faster than my NA cars but it's not invigorating.

This will do as a family hauler for the next few years. For the wife and kids, they like it and for me it can be a bit playful. I don't park it and look back. When I step into the garage it's an obstacle, not a point of reverence. Rumors abound that the 1 series sedan will be made to combat the new Audi A3 sedan. It's probably too much to hope for an NA engine in an M model 1 sedan in 2016. One can always pray and send emails to BMW. Really the new 3's just capable enough that I wouldn't trade it back in for my old car.

We get our 335i soon ! As you remember we both did the Drive for Team USA on May 8 at BMW of San Diego. It looks like there will be at least 2 Melbourne Red F30's on the San Diego Freeways by the November. Wave when you see us. Good critical Review. You have experience with many BMW's , and your insight reads like a Car and Driver or Road and Track Review. With our Red Cars , we need to be careful on the 163, 52 , 56 and I have noticed more CHP' s on the 125. I have never driven an MT Bimmer . Hope to someday. Safe Motoring my Friend:thumbup:;):bigpimp:

MML007 09-29-2012 10:13 PM

Good read. Very useful and knowledgable insights from somebody who has a lot of experience of BMW's.

:thumbup:

Daedalus34r 09-29-2012 11:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brkf (Post 7104067)
Cons:

* Steering - no matter that setting, BMW's apparently clueless about how to do EPS. In terms of feedback and control this even makes my Cooper S (on Sport), seem like a genius implementation.

* Size: great googly-moogly, was this thing built for typical Americans? Seems so given the plus size dimensions.

these two small but very important pieces of the puzzle are what worry me about the new F30s. A statistically capable car but does little to make the driver feel involved.

DerekS 09-30-2012 01:56 AM

Very thorough review, but I found your comments on the handling and steering to be rather harsh. Not being interested in owning a car with a highly stressed 4 cylinder engine, I decided against testing the 328i. I have driven the F30-335i, on three occasions; I would not characterize the steering nor the handling as you described them. I have yet to read a review by a professional tester that comes close to your comments on the steering and handling. I do grant you that the steering feedback is not on the same level as in the E9X RWD, E46 or E36.

As for the operation of the ASS, I found it to be seamless in the 335i; there was no roughness on re-starts.

I am also baffled by your comment on the F30 interior being "a downgrade" compared to E46 !!!! Are you serious ? :dunno: I have owned both an E46 sedan and coupe; both interiors I would describe as spartan compared to the F30-335i.

Saintor 09-30-2012 04:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by justinnum1 (Post 7104130)
Offers 80% of the performance of the N54 and gets 35mpg on the highway. Not everything is about engine sound.

Well BMW is clearly supposed to be more about a exhilarating engine sound experience than fuel economy.

Carenthusiast 10-04-2012 05:51 PM

I agree with BRKF'S review fully.
I have a 2013 328i and even in Sport mode the steering feels vague and disconnected from the driver.
I am disappointed in my BMW.

JoeFromPA 10-04-2012 07:03 PM

Can you guys help me understand why you bought your cars after a thorough test drive? Genuinely curious what it was that fooled you, so I can look out for that...

E36toF30 10-04-2012 07:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carenthusiast (Post 7114355)
I agree with BRKF'S review fully.
I have a 2013 328i and even in Sport mode the steering feels vague and disconnected from the driver.
I am disappointed in my BMW.

To you, the OP, and anyone else who's disappointed the the level of feedback from the F30's steering, I'd suggest you look at what tires it has, and consider upgrading them. A lot of the tires BMW has been fitting, such as the Pirelli Cinturato P7 and the Goodyear EfficientGrip, are grand touring tires that are more geared toward fuel economy, rather than performance and offering good steering feedback. Consider this excerpt from a Car and Driver comparison with the F30:

"What we're left with is a 328i whose personality is less distinct than that of the car it replaces, and we'd grown to love the old personality. The 335i we tested last month wore sportier tires, and its steering, while still light, had more feel than the 328i's here. Tires more worthy of a sports sedan would go a long way to improving the 328i's chassis performance." Full comparo here for those who haven't seen it: http://www.caranddriver.com/comparis...mparison-tests

The 335i they're referring to had Bridgestone Potenza S001 tires, which is a Max performance summer tire. If you guys want more steering feel, I'd suggest upgrading to an even better max performance non-RFT tire such as Michelin pilot super sport or Bridgestone S-04 Pole Position. It's stupid that BMW is putting on crappy tires, but I think you'd be happier with your car after the upgrade.

E36toF30 10-04-2012 07:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Saintor (Post 7104846)
Well BMW is clearly supposed to be more about a exhilarating engine sound experience than fuel economy.

As enthusiasts, this is how we'd want it to be. That's not necessarily how it is in the real world though. BMW, like every car manufacture that sells in decent volumes, is under a lot of global pressure (such as CAFE standards in the U.S.) to offer great fuel economy on all their cars, and particularly the higher volume models such as the 3 series.

Drewpax 10-04-2012 09:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by E36toF30 (Post 7114585)
As enthusiasts, this is how we'd want it to be. That's not necessarily how it is in the real world though. BMW, like every car manufacture that sells in decent volumes, is under a lot of global pressure (such as CAFE standards in the U.S.) to offer great fuel economy on all their cars, and particularly the higher volume models such as the 3 series.

Agree- this is all about manufacturers striking a balance with governmental mandates on fuel efficiency and emissions against raw performance. If they want to sell their cars in the US they have to comply.

Mykatie 10-05-2012 04:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeFromPA (Post 7114497)
Can you guys help me understand why you bought your cars after a thorough test drive? Genuinely curious what it was that fooled you, so I can look out for that...

I was wondering the same thing.

windsor027 10-05-2012 04:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by E36toF30 (Post 7114556)
The 335i they're referring to had Bridgestone Potenza S001 tires, which is a Max performance summer tire. If you guys want more steering feel, I'd suggest upgrading to an even better max performance non-RFT tire such as Michelin pilot super sport or Bridgestone S-04 Pole Position. It's stupid that BMW is putting on crappy tires, but I think you'd be happier with your car after the upgrade.

I have been saying this for a long time now, including the comparison test a couple of months back of the 335i and the S4 Audi. that 335i had all season tires on it. its like getting in the ring with a very good opponent with one hand behind your back for the entire fight. Not only the all seasons are non performance tires, but IMO the 335i especially should have 245/40s all around. Hell at the very list the sportline should.

vern 10-05-2012 06:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeFromPA (Post 7114497)
Can you guys help me understand why you bought your cars after a thorough test drive? Genuinely curious what it was that fooled you, so I can look out for that...

+1 :dunno: Had 2 LITLE things that I didn't care for that I knew I could take care of myself. The compass on the rear view mirror was distracting to me, disabled it . The head rests didn't go down flush to the seat backs, 5 minute fix. This is undoubtly one of the best BMW's I've owned,I love it but then again its only a car.
cheers
vern

leewtech 10-05-2012 08:34 AM

Quote:

Agree- this is all about manufacturers striking a balance with governmental mandates on fuel efficiency and emissions against raw performance. If they want to sell their cars in the US they have to comply
I don't believe there are any mandates in the US that restrict a sporty exhaust note. Heck the current batch of Corvette's, Mustangs, Ferrari, Lambo, Cadillac V's series, to name just a handful all sound raw and exciting....even loud under full acceleration.

E36toF30 10-05-2012 08:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by leewtech (Post 7115455)
I don't believe there are any mandates in the US that restrict a sporty exhaust note. Heck the current batch of Corvette's, Mustangs, Ferrari, Lambo, Cadillac V's series, to name just a handful all sound raw and exciting....even loud under full acceleration.

Yeah, of course there aren't any mandates like that. The point is that turbo 4 cylinders can get great gas mileage, but it's very difficult to make them sound good. With the exception of the Mustang, all of the cars you mentioned are much lower volume than BMWs, in particular the 3 series. They're also more expensive (again with the exception of the Mustang), have larger, higher cylinder-count engines (which usually sound better), get worse gas mileage than even the 335i, and much worse than the 328i. So it's really not an even comparison.

Nedmundo 10-05-2012 08:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeFromPA (Post 7114497)
Can you guys help me understand why you bought your cars after a thorough test drive? Genuinely curious what it was that fooled you, so I can look out for that...

I can't speak to the OP's experience with the F30, but I was somewhat "fooled" by the EPS when I bought my TSX in 2009. My test drives were in the suburbs and on back roads, where, despite a lack of feedback from the contact patches, the accuracy and linear response were effective, as they are with the F30's steering. Both cars go exactly where you point them, with no "slack." The on-center "dead spot" and general lack of feedback are IMO a much bigger problem on the highway, where my Acura feels really disconnected. This was not readily apparent on my test drives, but it started to bother me soon after I bought the car. (Some owners of the FR-S/BRZ, which is generally lauded for its steering despite the electric assist, are reporting similar things.)

When I tested an F30, a 328i Sport Line with 6MT, I immediately recognized steering characteristics like my Acura, but even worse IMO because even in sport mode the BMW's steering was much lighter, which makes it feel even less connected. I fully agree with all the criticisms leveled at BMW's EPS, and I hope it improves.

That said, tires will certainly make a difference, and I can't wait to ditch my Acura's OEM Michelins. When I switched our other car to the same Michelins due to their good snow performance, steering feel definitely decreased.

JoeFromPA 10-05-2012 01:03 PM

Well, they screwed up the 3 series steering back in 2001 and fixed it the next year, and that was with classic BMW steering systems. Here's hoping.

av98 10-05-2012 10:04 PM

Great review! Definitely debating about going from my ZHP to an E46 M3 ZCP or an F30 328i with the M-sport package. Decisions decisions...

brkf 10-05-2012 11:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeFromPA (Post 7114497)
Can you guys help me understand why you bought your cars after a thorough test drive? Genuinely curious what it was that fooled you, so I can look out for that...

I drove the F30 6 times before pulling the trigger. The competition didn't win me over and after two e90s I knew I wasn't going back to the that model. Up next were 535i manuals and GTIs/Golf-Rs. The 535s felt too big after a few drives. The GTI/Golf-R had the best shot as new vehicles but my last few Audi/VW products went south so fast I felt like it'd be crazy to take that leap again. Still I do like something so much about the size and zip of the GTI. Just not the FWD (or the AWD of the Golf-R).

So I settled into trying to find a ZHP. Eventually it became clear I couldn't find a ZHP locally for a price I felt was acceptable (about 15-18k) given I'd have plenty of immediate fixes to do on one. Buying used means being patient and trying to avoid a money pit. It just never panned out over and over.

So it really came down to deciding what was most important for me: RWD, manual, 4 doors and something with a sporty-feel. With all the competition disqualified, I settled on the 3. It'll do. Not in love but after 5 weeks it's an acceptable car.

av98 10-06-2012 07:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brkf (Post 7116999)
I drove the F30 6 times before pulling the trigger. The competition didn't win me over and after two e90s I knew I wasn't going back to the that model. Up next were 535i manuals and GTIs/Golf-Rs. The 535s felt too big after a few drives. The GTI/Golf-R had the best shot as new vehicles but my last few Audi/VW products went south so fast I felt like it'd be crazy to take that leap again. Still I do like something so much about the size and zip of the GTI. Just not the FWD (or the AWD of the Golf-R).

So I settled into trying to find a ZHP. Eventually it became clear I couldn't find a ZHP locally for a price I felt was acceptable (about 15-18k) given I'd have plenty of immediate fixes to do on one. Buying used means being patient and trying to avoid a money pit. It just never panned out over and over.

So it really came down to deciding what was most important for me: RWD, manual, 4 doors and something with a sporty-feel. With all the competition disqualified, I settled on the 3. It'll do. Not in love but after 5 weeks it's an acceptable car.

Yep it takes some time to get the right ZHP. The really good ones are getting harder and harder to find. It took me 4 months to find the right one 4 years ago.


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