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Old 02-20-2012, 12:53 PM
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av98 av98 is offline
ZHP = Patlabor
Location: SF Bay Area
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,340
Mein Auto: Mini Clubmn,Odyssey,Miata
I'm keeping my ZHP!

Summary:
Test drove the F30 328i Sport with the 8-spd auto today which included all the packages (Tech, Premium, NAV, Xenons, paddles, etc.. Fully Loaded except for the M-adaptive suspension). I immediately was reminded why I didn't like the E90/E88, the driving experience was greatly removed from the driver; definitely less connected than my ZHP (even in stock form) w/o the pinpoint and precise refinement. The sum of the ZHP really shines through compared to the current Sport or M tech packages. Highly looking forward to the M-Sport package coming this summer; hopefully it negates all the Cons I experienced with the F30 328i Sport. The F30 328i Sport compared to an E90 328i is a great improvement, however, compared to an E46 ZHP it's a downgrade.

Pros:
-N20 engine is awesome= very responsive with lots of power through out all the rev ranges and has a usable power band. Turbo lag is non-existent.
-Cabin noise= pretty good, not loud at all; quieter than my ZHP through all rev ranges.
-Weight= compared to an E90 328i- F30 is lighter. Accelerates better and more tossable.
-Cabin space= More rear cabin space compared to the E46 or E90.
-Brakes= very good stopping power for the car's weight, not as fast compared to the stock ZHPs. Same BMW bite with great modulation when applying late, slow, on/off, hard brake stops. Predictable and firm without having to guess on when the distance will be; can be gauged very well w/o engaging the ABS.
-Power= Limitless powerband all the way up to redline, could only feel a turbo drop off towards the last 200-500 rpm of the rev. range. Gobs of power for any driving scenario needed- off the line, transitions, passing, top end speed, cruising, etc...
-Technology= HUD, Nav (Voice activated, makes the iDrive difficulty go away), collision warnings, cameras all around make a safer driving environment.
-Paddle and AT shifters= Fast and less travel than the ZHP's Steptronic AT shifter.

Cons:
-8 spd AT transition downshifts are awful= not smooth at all even with the rev match (falls short by about 200-400 rpm between non-turbo spooled and turbo spooled rev ranges). I verified by blipping the throttle before downshifts which were smoother. Add the fact that the out of turbo spool -> turbo spool and vice versa transitions upset the balance of the car more. If you are in a turbo spooled -> turbo spooled or non-turbo spooled -> non-turbo spooled range it's smoother. I messed with all the driving modes- sport+, sport, comfort, eco pro, and the comfort mode seems to have the smoothest transitions during downshift with a middle of the pack response.

-Sport suspension is ok= Been spoiled with my Koni yellows + Hotchkis sways but I didn't remember the stock Sachs ZHP suspension rolling, yawing or moving around so much. It was just all over the place, too much driver compensation needed for my tastes. Very difficult to drive the car precisely to inches of start stop points and transitions. Suspension didn't settle fast enough when needed requiring longer driver corrections with the steering, brake or throttle. Ride height felt tall with the stock Sport suspension + the taller profile RFT.

-Tires= Run Flat POS Goodyear 225/45/18 fronts and 255/45/18 rears. Road feel felt very tall and the grip was not very good; very much an AS tire equivalent. Definitely missed my Michelin PS2s.

-Sport seats= Side bolsters were digging into my sides and were stiff. Guess I need to go on a diet or the seats needed break in. My ZHP sport seats never had this problem.

Thanks to BMW of Fremont for letting me test drive their F30 328i Sport; great service and very much down to earth attitudes.
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