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F30 / F31 / F32 / F33 (2012 - current)
The sixth generation 3 series, chassis code F30. 2013 model year 328i and 335i sedans now in production. Read the F30 frequently asked question thread for all your basic question and dive into all the details in the ultimate F30 information thread.

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  #1  
Old 02-19-2012, 09:37 PM
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tim330i tim330i is offline
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Post Bimmerfest Long Term Review 328i breaks the 500 mile barrier. Read the review now.

2012 BMW 3 Series 328i Long Term Review Car

In just three days we've put over 500 miles on our long term review 328i. Its been a lot of fun to rack up the miles, break in the motor (some - keeping it under 5,000), tweaking the almost endless number of settings via iDrive and of course taking in the sixth generation 3 series driving dynamics.

The long term review car is a loaded 2012 328i with the following specs -
  • Melbourne Red with Black Dakota Leather
  • 6 speed manual transmission
  • Sport Line
  • M Adaptive Suspension dampers
  • Just about every bit of technology you can cram into the car.

2012 BMW 328i F30 N20 Engine Bay

The number one takeaway that we have from the first 500 miles is no matter how you slice it, the car just flat out feels and behaves like you expect from a BMW. There are certainly differences in the driving dynamics from the previous generations of 3 Series cars but while driving the car you have no doubt you are in a BMW. The two biggest changes that you get over pretty quickly are the inclusion of a 4-cylinder 2L turbo motor and the switch from hydraulic steering to electronic power steering (eps). The motor just keeps on giving you gobs of power and the steering is better than expected.

Take a look at the full photo gallery of over 300 photos from our first 500 miles!

If you have priced out a new 3 Series, you will have certainly noticed that there is a ton of technology that can ratchet up the costs of an entry level 3 Series quite a bit. Some of the technology is great and we are glad that BMW has gotten on the ball to include things like USB ports standard, bringing iDrive to all trim levels and bringing higher fuel efficiency to the 3 Series line up. There is a steep learning curve if you haven't experienced iDrive before but a lot of the options are "set it and forget it" type settings that you may never visit a second time.

One of the more interesting new features available to US drivers is the My BMW Remote iPhone app (we hear an android version is in the works) which allows you to remote control lock/unlock, finding your car and using Google local search to quickly find destinations and send them to your car. See our demo video of how the My BMW Remote works below:



Mark's Top Three Favorites about the 2012 F30 328i
  • Heads Up Display. Call me crazy but this is the feature I have been looking for the most. When you see all the information that gets displayed in the HUD, I almost don't know why it's not on everyone's list. Current speed, turn by turn navigation, radio channels, phone call information and more allows me to keep my eyes on the road where they should be. It is awesome.
  • The Driver Experience Button. You may want to add in the Adaptive M suspension here and the variable steering but I would want to drive a car without those options to say for sure. Overall this customization option gives a level of versatility that is needed in a car that is going to be driven by multiple people. Your wife can drive the car in the stock comfort mode and be happy but you can customize the drive in sport mode to have fun on the twisty roads. If nothing else, it may be a good selling point for your better half.
  • For now the 3rd point goes to overall seating position. In my E92 335i I sit close up to the wheel but have very little head room...in fact, I can't wear a hat without it hitting the roof. This is 100% not the case for the F30...I can sit where I want and not feel like I'm going to hit the roof. The additional headroom makes for a much more enjoyable experience whether you are driving to the store or on a 500 mile trip to Bimmerfest.

Tim's Top Three Favorites about the 2012 F30 328i
  • Comfort access - Coming from an E46 this is so cool! The hands free trunk opening is fun and useful.
  • HUD - Not the most useful feature overall but the cool factor of having the speed and other info floating on the windshield does it for me.
  • Seat and Seating position - Being 6'5" I don't expect to fit in cars. The F30 is first car I actually feel I fit into and can get into a good driving position. Plus the seats are comfortable and very adjustable.

BMW 328i under the lights

Overall, we have been pleasantly surprised with how great the 2012 BMW 328i has turned out to be. There are certainly some things that could be changed but most are nit picky things that do not change our overall impression of the car but are worth mentioning.

Room for improvement
  • Brake feel. The brakes work great but the pedal is spongy and doesn't provide the feedback and confidence BMW brakes should. The 335i with the bigger brakes and fixed calipers should feel better.
  • Front facing camera in surround top view. When pulling forward in tight spaces, the side view cameras alone don't cut it
  • Driver Experience Switch last mode retained in comfort access key profile. It defaults to Comfort currently.
  • Voice recognition is almost worthless for navigation functions and address input via iDrive is cumbersome.
  • More customization via iDrive. The car could have another 20 or 30 options that enthusiasts would appreciate. It could be a simple as a software update so fingers crossed BMW hear us.

We are only 500 miles into a long journey with the Project 328i and are even more excited about the next 5,000 miles. We have a ton of projects in store for you including theses in the near term:
  • 300 mile trip with Eco-Pro - we try hypermiling!
  • Live web cam dyno run on Turner Motorsport's dynopack - Details coming soon
  • Do It Yourself oil change - For those that feel oil changes should happen more then 15,000 miles.

Have you already picked up your 2012 BMW 3 Series? What are your favorite features on the car?

If you are still on the fence about buying a new 3 Series, what can we do to convince you? Tell us what you want to know and we'll test it out for you!
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:12 PM
the J-Man the J-Man is offline
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I wonder why they decided to make the new key fob the size of a cell phone? Is there a good reason for this, or did the asshole that came up with the "lines" idea also design the new key?
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:13 AM
jackson328xi jackson328xi is offline
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Great feedback, thanks for the update guys!

This might sound cynical, but I was interested to see that 0 of 6 favorites involved; the engine, steering feel, or suspension... Maybe Mark's #2 but that sounds more like "your wife can use it to go to the store!".

Do you guys feel like these things are selling points for the car, and best in the class, or are they "things you get over"?

Looking forward to your impressions.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:08 AM
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tim330i tim330i is offline
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Originally Posted by jackson328xi View Post
Great feedback, thanks for the update guys!

This might sound cynical, but I was interested to see that 0 of 6 favorites involved; the engine, steering feel, or suspension... Maybe Mark's #2 but that sounds more like "your wife can use it to go to the store!".

Do you guys feel like these things are selling points for the car, and best in the class, or are they "things you get over"?

Looking forward to your impressions.
For me the engine, steering feel and suspension are exactly what I expected them and very much BMW. Anyone coming from an other BMW will feel that it handles and drives exactly like a BMW should. There are a few subtle differences such as the idle sound from the 4 cylinder but its minor (might add that to the area for improvement). The simply answer is that the the suspension, engine and feel is just BMW.

Tim
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:42 PM
jackson328xi jackson328xi is offline
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Originally Posted by tim330i View Post
For me the engine, steering feel and suspension are exactly what I expected them and very much BMW. Anyone coming from an other BMW will feel that it handles and drives exactly like a BMW should. There are a few subtle differences such as the idle sound from the 4 cylinder but its minor (might add that to the area for improvement). The simply answer is that the the suspension, engine and feel is just BMW.

Tim
Thanks Tim, I was just wondering. I guess it makes sense that you guys can't fully test out the driving dynamics in the break in period anyway.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:58 AM
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pix335i pix335i is offline
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Originally Posted by jackson328xi View Post
Great feedback, thanks for the update guys!

This might sound cynical, but I was interested to see that 0 of 6 favorites involved; the engine, steering feel, or suspension... Maybe Mark's #2 but that sounds more like "your wife can use it to go to the store!".

Do you guys feel like these things are selling points for the car, and best in the class, or are they "things you get over"?

Looking forward to your impressions.
I did not include the engine/suspension in my favorites simply because we are in the break in period and you can't fully get on the motor. From what I have seen during the break in period though, the motor is quite strong and is going to be a strong selling point for the car. It certainly brings a smile to your face in the driving I have done so far.

I am sure I'll have more feedback after we get the car fully broken in and have a chance to really open it up.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackson328xi View Post
Great feedback, thanks for the update guys!

This might sound cynical, but I was interested to see that 0 of 6 favorites involved; the engine, steering feel, or suspension... Maybe Mark's #2 but that sounds more like "your wife can use it to go to the store!".

Do you guys feel like these things are selling points for the car, and best in the class, or are they "things you get over"?

Looking forward to your impressions.
+1.

It's good as computer hardware review, like a newlaptop.

Not a car review.
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:50 AM
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The delay on the app is pretty lame.
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:00 AM
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NO fuel economy figures!!............ Why?.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:38 AM
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NO fuel economy figures!!............ Why?.
In all fairness to whatever it is now, the engine in my '09 JCW -- which has certain similarities to the N20 -- didn't maximize and stabilize its fuel economy until after a few thousand miles were put on the engine. Early on I was getting around 24 - 27 mpg combined and was quite worried my MPG wasn't going to be what I was expecting [28 or 29 mpg combined]. That is however exactly what I am getting now.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:42 AM
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In all fairness to whatever it is now, the engine in my '09 JCW -- which has certain similarities to the N20 -- didn't maximize and stabilize its fuel economy until after a few thousand miles were put on the engine. Early on I was getting around 24 - 27 mpg combined and was quite worried my MPG wasn't going to be what I was expecting [28 or 29 mpg combined]. That is however exactly what I am getting now.
Thanks .
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:03 AM
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NO fuel economy figures!!............ Why?.
I saw another member responded to this but I also wanted to add that during the break in period we aren't exactly doing "normal" driving with varying the rev ranges intentionally. In one segment the car was reporting that we had gotten 37.9 miles per gallon on a 44 mile trip averaging nearly 70 MPH. If this is any indication on what the numbers will show after break-in, I think the car should easily beat out the EPA estimates for a lot of people.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:19 AM
e39frank e39frank is offline
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Underslung seat design on standard seats.

Great review. Again very impressed with your review that is more informative than Satch Carlson from Roundel. The single reason I have not purchased an e90 is the low slung design of the rear of the lower cushion. Lower back issue bothered me after driving more than thirty minutes. This same was a problem in my e39, however, not the e36 or e46. I know you have the sport seats, however, if anyone could share experience with standard seating I would appreciate it very much. Sport line is not in my plans due to roads in my area being somewhat rough.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:49 AM
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How do you guys feel about the leather? Seems nobody is mentioning how different it feels from the last gen.
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:53 AM
the J-Man the J-Man is offline
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How do you guys feel about the leather? Seems nobody is mentioning how different it feels from the last gen.
From the cars I sat in, I thought the quality was down several notches. Which isn't saying much since the E90/2 leather wasn't anything special either.
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:24 AM
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I think you guys are the first to review a manual transmission 328i. How is the turbo lag or does it seem just like driving an e9x 6 cylinder?
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:29 AM
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Interesting. On the 4-banger, is that big shroud there to cover up the empty space between the front of the engine and the radiator?
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:04 AM
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I think you guys are the first to review a manual transmission 328i. How is the turbo lag or does it seem just like driving an e9x 6 cylinder?
There is certainly a "sweet spot" for power delivery in the car and the low end (up to 3k) does provide a small amount of lag. That being said, you are probably going to end up driving this car in the rev ranges that make the most sense to your driving style. The other area where I noticed a change is highway driving in 6th gear at 65mph or so...if you do not down shift to 5th, there is a delay in some of the power delivery. This is not a big deal to me since I would most likely act the same way in both cars.

Once we get the car broken in, we will be able to talk about this a lot more. The initial 1,000 miles or so is really a test to see just how much self control you have
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:06 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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Tim,

500 miles in and your "read the review now" includes about 2-3 sentences on driving dynamics and experience, and about 30 sentences on technology. That about sums up to me where the focus on BMW has shifted among it's primary buying demographic.

I'm sorry but as someone who hasn't spent ages owning a BMW, let me say that "it drives like a BMW" is a completely useless experience for me. I've driven e30s 325is, e36 328is, e46 330i w/ sport and w/o sport, e39 528/530/540/m5, e90 330i/335i/328i, e60 545i/550i.

Manual transmission, auto trans, all wheel drive versions, sport package'd, and not sport package'd

And the one thing I will report from all those experiences...

BMW does not have a "BMW feel" besides a certain level of solidity and cohesive controls . A sport package changes everything. Transmission choice changes everything. An e90 drives differently than an e46 and very differently than an e30 and e46 (makes sense). An e39 doesn't feel at all like an e60, when driven, IMHO.

I would really love to read a review that treats the reviewer as someone who wants granular information on each system of the driving experience. Does the steering still feel "telepathic" and "part of the whole", or is it now something you actually pay attention to getting right? How's the throttle input on the latest DBW generation? Natural, or a bit artificial? What does driving road noise/wind noise compare too and what's your perception of it after serious seat time? How does the suspension soak up mid-corner bumps during throttle application?etc.

Joe
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:41 AM
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Tim,

500 miles in and your "read the review now" includes about 2-3 sentences on driving dynamics and experience, and about 30 sentences on technology. That about sums up to me where the focus on BMW has shifted among it's primary buying demographic.

I'm sorry but as someone who hasn't spent ages owning a BMW, let me say that "it drives like a BMW" is a completely useless experience for me. I've driven e30s 325is, e36 328is, e46 330i w/ sport and w/o sport, e39 528/530/540/m5, e90 330i/335i/328i, e60 545i/550i.

Manual transmission, auto trans, all wheel drive versions, sport package'd, and not sport package'd

And the one thing I will report from all those experiences...

BMW does not have a "BMW feel" besides a certain level of solidity and cohesive controls . A sport package changes everything. Transmission choice changes everything. An e90 drives differently than an e46 and very differently than an e30 and e46 (makes sense). An e39 doesn't feel at all like an e60, when driven, IMHO.

I would really love to read a review that treats the reviewer as someone who wants granular information on each system of the driving experience. Does the steering still feel "telepathic" and "part of the whole", or is it now something you actually pay attention to getting right? How's the throttle input on the latest DBW generation? Natural, or a bit artificial? What does driving road noise/wind noise compare too and what's your perception of it after serious seat time? How does the suspension soak up mid-corner bumps during throttle application?etc.

Joe
Just test drive one...
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:29 PM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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Just test drive one...
Why? I can be like you and buy one without ever having test driven one

Seriously justin, you of all people should know the relative scarcity right now of a 6-speed manual 328i w/ sport package. And if you read my comments, you'd see that my past experiences driving any series with different transmissions/suspension packages leads me to believe they'll drive very differently.

....

Put another way, with your statement what's the point of their reviews? I could just drive one and never value the opinion of someone's review.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:57 AM
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Tim,

500 miles in and your "read the review now" includes about 2-3 sentences on driving dynamics and experience, and about 30 sentences on technology. That about sums up to me where the focus on BMW has shifted among it's primary buying demographic.

I'm sorry but as someone who hasn't spent ages owning a BMW, let me say that "it drives like a BMW" is a completely useless experience for me. I've driven e30s 325is, e36 328is, e46 330i w/ sport and w/o sport, e39 528/530/540/m5, e90 330i/335i/328i, e60 545i/550i.

Manual transmission, auto trans, all wheel drive versions, sport package'd, and not sport package'd

And the one thing I will report from all those experiences...

BMW does not have a "BMW feel" besides a certain level of solidity and cohesive controls . A sport package changes everything. Transmission choice changes everything. An e90 drives differently than an e46 and very differently than an e30 and e46 (makes sense). An e39 doesn't feel at all like an e60, when driven, IMHO.

I would really love to read a review that treats the reviewer as someone who wants granular information on each system of the driving experience. Does the steering still feel "telepathic" and "part of the whole", or is it now something you actually pay attention to getting right? How's the throttle input on the latest DBW generation? Natural, or a bit artificial? What does driving road noise/wind noise compare too and what's your perception of it after serious seat time? How does the suspension soak up mid-corner bumps during throttle application?etc.

Joe
We certainly plan on providing a much higher level of review but this was meant as an initial thought into the car. Most of what you are talking about relates to a fully broken in car and to review it before that point would be a disservice.

There is a lot more coming in terms of reviewing the driving dynamics but we need to have some more miles on it before making any judgments.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:27 PM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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We certainly plan on providing a much higher level of review but this was meant as an initial thought into the car. Most of what you are talking about relates to a fully broken in car and to review it before that point would be a disservice.

There is a lot more coming in terms of reviewing the driving dynamics but we need to have some more miles on it before making any judgments.
That's totally fair. I'd appreciate the title of "tech review" then -

As a "agree to disagree" - none of what I asked about had to do with a fully broken in car. I didn't ask about braking at the limit, power at the top-end, or clutch slippage in track conditions.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:34 PM
buckboss81 buckboss81 is offline
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I test drove the new 328 sedan automatic yesterday and am happy to offer my humble opinion. Let me preface my comments below with some history on my ownership experiences.

I've owned numerous BMW's and have been thoroughly impressed by each one (E36 318is, E36 318ic, E36 328 sedan, E39 540i, E46 323ci, E86 Z4 Coupe 3.0si, and E92 328xi Coupe. I've always ordered cars equipped with manual trans, but I always test drive an automatic with each new model as it seems they always arrive at the showroom first. I test drove the previous generation E90 sedan in automatic form when it first arrived back in 2005 and was more impressed with that car than any automatic I had ever driven. I currently drive a 2009 328xi manual coupe with sport pkg and love the performance of that car. Strangely, my favorite car was the 1994 318is (E36). It lacked HP and was slow off the line, but it was very light and responsive with good gas mileage...an absolute blast to drive! I've been driving inline 6 cars since selling that car in 1996 and have grown to love that engine.

As I went into my test drive, I was wide open to driving a 4 cylinder. I realized that BMW needed to step up their efforts towards fuel consumption, and understood that a 4 cylinder engine was a necessary option. I was actually hoping I could regain the feel of driving that 318is. For me, the feel of the engine was going to be as important or more important than the horsepower.

As I arrived on the lot, the sales person handed me the keys to a white 328 "Modern." I spent some time with him learning the new technology and then left for what I hoped would be an exhilarating test drive, much like every other experience of driving the new model. I was immediately impressed with improvements in the gadgetry, safety features, appeal of the interior, and the exterior (big improvement). I know I'm spoiled by the silky smooth inline 6 that my cars have been equipped with since the early 90's, but I remember how much I loved that 137 HP 318is car, and was wide open to moving back in that direction. Unfortunately, he turbo 4 engine seemed to have significantly more vibration at lower speeds and I experienced a noticeable amount of turbo lag. As I got onto the open road and started opening up the engine, I was less than impressed with the performance and feel of the turbo 4.

To be honest, I cut the test drive short, because I have never been so turned off by a BMW. I fear the company may have erred by offering neither a normally aspirated version, nor the N52 3.0L naturally aspirated I6 as on option on the new model. I asked the dealer to contact me once they have a manual transmission example on the lot and I will give this another shot, but I wouldn't go anywhere near the turbo 4. I'm seriously considering spending the extra $$ on gas and placing an order for the previous generation of 5-Series sedan while I still can.

I would be interested to know what others think of the performance of the new turbo 4 engine. It's clearly not my cup of tea, but maybe others can shed some light on their positive impressions.

Last edited by buckboss81; 02-20-2012 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:46 PM
7or8 7or8 is offline
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Originally Posted by buckboss81 View Post
I test drove the new 328 sedan automatic yesterday and am happy to offer my humble opinion. Let me preface my comments below with some history on my ownership experiences.

I've owned numerous BMW's and have been thoroughly impressed by each one (E36 318is, E36 318ic, E36 328 sedan, E39 540i, E46 323ci, E86 Z4 Coupe 3.0si, and E92 328xi Coupe. I've always ordered cars equipped with manual trans, but I always test drive an automatic with each new model as it seems they always arrive at the showroom first. I test drove the previous generation E90 sedan in automatic form when it first arrived back in 2005 and was more impressed with that car than any automatic I had ever driven. I currently drive a 2009 328xi manual coupe with sport pkg and love the performance of that car. Strangely, my favorite car was the 1994 318is (E36). It lacked HP and was slow off the line, but it was very light and responsive with good gas mileage...an absolute blast to drive! I've been driving inline 6 cars since selling that car in 1996 and have grown to love that engine.

As I went into my test drive, I was wide open to driving a 4 cylinder. I realized that BMW needed to step up their efforts towards fuel consumption, and understood that a 4 cylinder engine was a necessary option. I was actually hoping I could regain the feel of driving that 318is. For me, the feel of the engine was going to be as important or more important than the horsepower.

As I arrived on the lot, the sales person handed me the keys to a white 328 "Modern." I spent some time with him learning the new technology and then left for what I hoped would be an exhilarating test drive, much like every other experience of driving the new model. I was immediately impressed with improvements in the gadgetry, safety features, appeal of the interior, and the exterior (big improvement). I know I'm spoiled by the silky smooth inline 6 that my cars have been equipped with since the early 90's, but I remember how much I loved that 137 HP 318is car, and was wide open to moving back in that direction. Unfortunately, he turbo 4 engine seemed to have significantly more vibration at lower speeds and I experienced a noticeable amount of turbo lag. As I got onto the open road and started opening up the engine, I was less than impressed with the performance and feel of the turbo 4.

To be honest, I cut the test drive short, because I have never been so turned off by a BMW. I fear the company may have erred by offering neither a normally aspirated version, nor the N52 3.0L naturally aspirated I6 as on option on the new model. I asked the dealer to contact me once they have a manual transmission example on the lot and I will give this another shot, but I wouldn't go anywhere near the turbo 4. I'm seriously considering spending the extra $$ on gas and placing an order for the previous generation of 5-Series sedan while I still can.

I would be interested to know what others think of the performance of the new turbo 4 engine. It's clearly not my cup of tea, but maybe others can shed some light on their positive impressions.
Very interesting read. Thanks!
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