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Old 06-02-2006, 02:04 AM
Colin Colin is offline
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Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 53
Mein Auto: '14 320d xDrive Touring S
E90 vs E46

Hi, all,

It's been some time since I last posted, but the ongoing E90 better/worse than E46 debate really captures my fancy.

Like all cars, there are things to like and dislike in both the E90 and its predecessor. It's a matter of where your priorities lie that will give either the nod over the other.

For me, the E90 has great refinement, fantastic drivetrains (sampled only the 320i and 320d, so far though), an even sharper chassis response on the open road than the E46 and great on road presence (more on which later).

Drawbacks of the new models are, however, too many for it to make it an unqualified success. Please bear with me if this sounds repetitious either because earlier posters have already brought them up or because I've posted these opinions before:

a) Dash is plain ugly. This could be subjective, but I still do not warm to the plank straight, minimalist look of the new design w/o i-Drive, while the twin cowl version with i-Drive is shades worse.

b) Unergonomic details - stop/start button with cartridge key, electronic turn signals, obscured cruise control, fiddly i-Drive, rear seat that has less headroom and outer edges that are so uncomfortably hard that the added width and leg/knee room are wasted, boot access still as bad as ever, particularly so if the optional computer tray is ordered.

c) Not driver/passenger focused - no temperature gauge but a pointmess vacuum gauge, no dipstick, poor ergonomics (as above), flimsy cup holders, courtesy light goes out the minute you slip the cartridge key into its slot so you cannot belt up and do any adjustments while there is light.

d) Deterioration of cabin plastic quality - door trims feel especially hard after the E46.

e) Styling not to everyone's taste - to me the E90 has presence only because it is UGLY!

f) The car feels limp and flaccid in tight, urban situations, unlike the E46, which was more easily manoeuvred and did not feel at all out of its depth on backroad blasts.

Compared to the E90, the E46 may be more cramped in the back, less refined on the move and not as sharp in handling, but for me (and I guess many on this forum), a much better balance of qualities and attributes.

I suspect that the E90 sells more on its image and brand desirability than on pure merit/talent, even though it is hardly the class dunce. Some would say this was already so of the E46, but at least the old model was not so compromised and diluted to appeal to the masses. It appealed to those who put driving pleasure ahead of all other considerations and could deliver without adopting useless gimmicks.

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