My simplified experience:
2008 335i manual --> Ho hum, when does this lease end again?
2011 135i M-Sport DCT --> Wow, this is what it's like to have fun again!
Since 1999, I've had three BMW 3 series (99 323i manual, 2004 330i SMG, 2008 335i manual). With each successive car came more performance and options, which was great, but it didn't necessarily equate to a better overall experience for me. Looking back at the three, I was most impressed with my 330i SMG. The engine & transmission combo proved exciting. The interior build quality seemed superior and surrounded me like a cockpit.
The interior feel of a car is hugely
important to me, and a significant reason why I was so disappointed with the 335i. That, along with the fact that I still missed the technological slickness of the SMG, made for a very unfulfilling 3 years with the 335i.
The 135i DCT has brought back the thrill of driving again for me. I find myself wanting to get in the car and run an errand or take an afternoon road trip. In two weeks of ownership, I've put on about 1500 miles and loving it. The 335i was turned in with 4500 unused miles. That sums it up for me!
With the upcoming 3 series makeover, they'll hopefully improve the lack of interior cockpit feel, and it's only a matter of time before the DCT is made available in the non M and IS models. Perhaps, when those two things are taken care of, I'll be back in a 3. Of course, by then, a fully loaded regular 3 will likely exceed the $60,000 threshold.
P.S. As far as Nav, I love it and wouldn't want to go without it. The iDrive in the 2008 335i was good and suited me fine, although I didn't have anything to compare it to at the time. The new iDrive is even better. I'm happy with it. Call me a sissy, but I appreciate performance AND technology.