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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 06-13-2013, 06:47 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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F30 loaner review from an e39/e60 owner

All,

I was given an f30 loaner this morning and put over 150 miles on it today. It's a 328i x-drive sport + tech package in mineral gray with light gray leather on black interior. Just about every option except xenons and DHP for some reason.

I've been a member of this forum for awhile but never before had a chance to do an extended, solo test drive of an f30 and really compare it to the driving experience and "feel" of both an e39 and e60.

My daily driver is an e39 m5 with about ~420 crank hp and notable suspension modifications. The f30 is often compared to the e39 in terms of size, so i wanted to offer some feedback.

...

Let's start with how it drives and discuss a contentious issue:

Steering & Suspension - Body control and driving dynamics:


I found the steering to be a delight. the turn-in to be spectacular, body control to be exemplary, and tossability to be admirable. And supposedly the 328i x-drive without DHP is just about the lowest of the low.

I really came into this car with low expectations but I've got to say that this is definitely a 3-series. This ~3500 pound car, sized like an ol 5-series, is totally tossable and incredibly responsive. The steering is direct, willing, and communicative. Feedback is muted, yes, but below 8/10ths driving it's quite a direct and playful system. It WANTS to turn-in, a hallmark of 3-series.

This chassis is simply spectacular. Body roll gets a bit out of control when it's hussled but in normal driving/commuting it has incredibly weight control and takes an amazing set.

I had really gotten lost in all the reviews bemoaning various aspects of this car at 10/10ths and when driven on the track or bombing a back road. Those might still be fair. But it ignores the day to day driving aspects and this is truly a fun 3-series to drive day to day.

Ride Quality & NVH

This was another area I was surprised in. First off, the chassis is so good that bumps are pretty much never harsh but they are definitely present. There is never any notable harshness, road noise is admirably low, and wind noise is present but controlled. I took the car up to 90mph and cruised at 80mph alot and wind noise was totally acceptable at those levels.

I've driven RWD sport 328's and their suspension is better at both ride quality AND maintaining a connected feel while driving. This AWD suspension without DHP seems the least able to absorb bumps and stay connected. It's still quite good.

Engine & Transmission

I'm very mixed about this engine. On the one hand, I returned 27mpg (OBC) in 150 miles of mixed and aggressive driving. No Eco Pro. A mix of comfort and sport modes. It's also very responsive and has good EVERYDAY power.

On the other hand, in comfort mode this engine was often lugging at 1400-1500 RPMs. You could feel it being right on the edge of running too low as chosen by the transmission. It was starting to cause vibrations. It's just a small displacement engine powering a heavy car and at low engine speeds it's not doing it well. This may be exacerbated by the x-drive as well.

Also, you can feel it running out of gas when driven WOT in the upper RPM ranges and as it goes above about 85-90mph you can feel the pull really starting to slow.

That being said, this is simply a fantastic engine even in an AWD sedan when driven from 2000-5000 rpms for daily driving. Smooth, responsive, and loving to rev.

The transmission is the best auto trans I've ever driven. It's world's better than my e60. Yes, I can confuse it and have it jump back and forth between 3 gears. It's very hard though.

For the most part it never bogs down slipping, it just quickly and instantly changes gears. If anything it's pairing with the 2.0t probably encourages it to change gears a bit too frequently down low.

Exhaust & engine noise

Yes, a minor exhaust system needs to be on this car. Mainly to simply cover up the unpleasant noises the engine sometimes makes. That being said, I found it to sound fine from the driver's seat in 99% of cases. Really unobtrusive.

...

Now, let's talk about some more subjective items:

Size

This car is the spiritual successor to the e39 in terms of length, wheelbase, and interior space. And it's VERY close to it overall - I have it in my garage right now.

The interior is a bit tighter for the driver/passenger. The seat feels a bit lower to the floor, the center tunnel feels a bit wider. It actually provides a bit more connected drive. I find the rear seating of the 3-series to be almost identical to the e39.

But most importantly, the f30 DRIVES like a 3-series - NOT like an e39. It drives distinctly smaller and more connected than my m5. It FEELS 400+ pounds lighter as well but it's also more tossable.

Again, this is even in the non-DHP 328xi which is the "least sporty" of the lines supposedly. Damn thing felt fantastic.

Materials

This is probably the one "dissapointing" area for me. I daily drive an e39 m5. It has a full leather interior. When I get into the f30, I am simply struck by the fairly cheaper look of the dash, all of the plastic plating around the shifter (really, they should have done some stuff down there to make it look better than dark gray plastic).

In addition, the huge plastic door pockets (with carpeted lined interior) are scary thin towards the bottom of the door card. Thin like I'd expect in a Corolla. Feel that flex baby!

Seats

The seats FEEL good. In 2 hours of driving, I never got sore. However, I did get alot of tingling representing blood flow wasn't quite right. Over time, I felt they weren't quite big enough for my 5'10 195 pound frame. Not quite soft enough to embrace me. Maybe it would get better with breaking in.

...

I think that's it Just wanted to share this as a different perspective.
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  #2  
Old 06-13-2013, 07:18 AM
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GVFlyer GVFlyer is offline
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Nice review. I submitted a similar post that covered the aspects of the car that are most important to me - yours is more of a holistic approach. Most telling to me as to how we approached the car is mileage - you returned 27 mpg on a 150 mile trip; I got 21.5 on a 100 mile course. The principle difference in our experience is that at no time did I find the 3,595 lb BMW 328i Sportline xDrive to be "tossible."
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  #3  
Old 06-13-2013, 09:09 AM
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Quinn Lasser Quinn Lasser is offline
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Great review! Just technical enough for a non-technical person to enjoy. Thanks.
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  #4  
Old 06-13-2013, 12:02 PM
Bratters123 Bratters123 is offline
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F30 loaner review from an e39/e60 owner

At last a sensible review.


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  #5  
Old 06-13-2013, 12:39 PM
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boltjaM3s boltjaM3s is online now
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Originally Posted by Bratters123 View Post
At last a sensible review.


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Hoo-rah.

I always knew my car didn't suck and embarrass the 3 Series brand.

BJ
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  #6  
Old 06-13-2013, 02:03 PM
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Good, accurate, fair review. And I do agree about the huge plastic door pockets. Cheap, cheap!
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  #7  
Old 06-13-2013, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFromPA View Post
...I think that's it Just wanted to share this as a different perspective.
Not at all different from mine as I came from an E39 540i.

Quote:
Originally Posted by au1994 View Post
Good, accurate, fair review. And I do agree about the huge plastic door pockets. Cheap, cheap!
The review parallels my feelings/experience. The door pockets don't bother me as much as the sun visors.
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  #8  
Old 06-13-2013, 03:12 PM
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The Nerd The Nerd is offline
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F30 loaner review from an e39/e60 owner

I agree as well coming from an e60....


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  #9  
Old 06-13-2013, 03:18 PM
Ace88 Ace88 is offline
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I too had an F30 sport line loaner for 2 weeks. I really did thoroughly enjoy the car, I did NOT like the nav unit sticking up out of the dash in that obtrusive fixed position but loved everything else. The new 4 banger was really great on gas and quite responsive. Oh...I didn't care for the auto stop/start feature either but thats a minor thing that I don't consider performance, comfort, or design related to deciding whether I'd buy the car or not, I'd buy one for sure.
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  #10  
Old 06-13-2013, 04:31 PM
cblandin cblandin is offline
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Appreciate the review Joe. As a former M5 owner (with >1000 posts over there on M5board.com where I know you frequent) it is nice to have a common point of reference when reading reviews. I'm eyeballing the AH3 as a possible next ride myself (basically because it seems to provide 335i power with 328i mileage)...or an i3?

How did it compare with that new CTS-V you got to test drive (obviously two very different rides)?
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  #11  
Old 06-14-2013, 06:03 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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I can only remember my skin wrinkling back in the cts-v
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:37 AM
BlueF30 BlueF30 is offline
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Nice write up Joe. Good to read as I wait for my car to get here next week. Oh, get ready to duck, saintor is around here somewhere!
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  #13  
Old 06-14-2013, 06:51 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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Thanks all.

I'll add one more thing which is interesting and surprising. The 328i x-drive is probably my least likely choice of trim. I'd get a 328i, 335i, or 335xi first.

Yet when I handed the keys back, I looked back and actually was unhappy I was giving up the car.

I REALLY have not felt that in....well, I don't even remember. A long time.
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  #14  
Old 06-14-2013, 07:24 AM
jedbmw jedbmw is offline
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Great review. I thoroughly enjoyed your comprehensive evaluation.

I would agree that running around town at about 30-40 mph, my 328i Sport Line seems to feel a little bogged down in the "Comfort Mode" . That's why I always drive in Sport Mode for sure at these speeds, which as you know, has the SWEETEST steering feel.

I wish there was a way to program the "Sport Mode" steering separately and to keep the RPM's from always going higher.

Overall, after owning my 328i "Sport Line" for about 2 weeks, I really enjoy the vehicle a lot. I did, however, luck out and receive the "M Sport Steering Wheel" (factory error/gift), which I have to admit, is such a bonus!
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  #15  
Old 06-14-2013, 07:29 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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You received a factory error installed steering wheel? Seriously?

all kidding aside that's going to be one of those "special cars" in the used car market in 5+ years or so for enthusiasts. It's pretty rare to find factory mistake vehicles with DESIRABLE parts installed like that.
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  #16  
Old 06-14-2013, 08:52 AM
cblandin cblandin is offline
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Did you miss the stick at all?
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  #17  
Old 06-14-2013, 09:24 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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Did you miss the stick at all?
Yes and no. The 328i stick is super easy going, but I think this is an engine that benefits from the way the automatic transmission maintains load on the turbo (keeping it better spooled) and the tighter gearing of the 8 gears.

I think it actually punches more with the automatic than the manual, but I could be wrong.

If I were to be making a buying decision right now, i would need to test drive back to back the RWD versions of the 328i manual and automatic as well as the 335i versions of the same.

I really enjoyed the automatic that much and I'm a dyed in the wool manual trans guy.
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  #18  
Old 06-15-2013, 08:57 AM
ehchan ehchan is offline
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Mein Auto: 2012 328i
F30 loaner review from an e39/e60 owner

I came from a dreadfully unreliable E61... 4 HPFPs so far and a failure of power steering at thigh worst possible moment....

The 328i I have now is seriously large enough for previous 5 owners. The cabin isn't much smaller than an F10 now... It's not as lux, but for my purposes I'm happier with the F30 than I was with my E61...

Though when my lease is up I'm going to have a serious look at the F31 and the GT models...



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  #19  
Old 06-16-2013, 12:58 PM
jwalz1 jwalz1 is offline
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Originally Posted by JoeFromPA View Post
All,


I found the steering to be a delight. the turn-in to be spectacular, body control to be exemplary, and tossability to be admirable. And supposedly the 328i x-drive without DHP is just about the lowest of the low.
ha ha. Nice to know I just ordered the "lowest of the low." I only had the car for 20 minutes or so on my test drive but found the steering and handling to be perfectly fine and preferred it to the overly heavy e90. And my last two sporty cars were a heavy steering MR2 turbo and current S2000, both known for their handling and steering feedback. I thought the 328xi was "fun" and tossable for a car that hefty.

I am keeping the Honda as the toy, but I think the bimmer will still be a joy pulling DD duties. If BMW took out some more power assist in sport plus mode it would probably make a bunch of people happier though.
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