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F22 / F23 2 Series (2014 - Current)
The 2 Series coupe is the replacement for the E82/E88 1 series coupe. Production starts in November 2013 on the 228i (N20) and M235i (N55) coupes. Look for them in dealerships in February 2014. The convertible F23 2 series will follow in the fall of 2014.

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  #1  
Old 10-20-2016, 08:16 PM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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Is all BMW steering numb?

So I thought I was buying a BMW 228/230i.

A little background information: I've been a BMW fanboy since forever; love the brand, love the look, love the attention to detail, love the engines, all of it, down to the coral red interior. My dream car in HS was a E92, but it just didn't happen, and I got stuck with a Scion tc instead lol. After transitioning from the tc, my current daily driver is an Audi A5, and I've been driving it for over 2 years now.

One big difference I noticed when going from the Scion (2007) to the Audi (2011) was the steering feel. Pretty night and day, obviously there is a big difference in feel between hydraulic steering, and EPS. I'm not mechanically inclined by any means, but I do notice fine (in my mind, obvious) differences. The scion's steering felt tighter, and had gobs more road feel; you can tell what was going on with the tires, etc etc etc. I won't go on any further about that because I realize we are over hydraulic steering, and that is done with.

When describing the Audi, it has super light steering, and it feels way looser (unlike my mom's old 99 A6) in comparison to the Scion. Audi's A5 steering feels like the epitome of EPS in general. It manages to be somewhat loose, but provide a very smooth feel, while maintaining minimal but still tangible road feel. The steering wheel itself is objective, but it feels like that kind of annoyingly smooth leather with no perforations or curves to give it any substance. Aside from texture, the weight and density of the wheel feel good, it feels like a quality wheel when you grip it firmly, no empty or hollow feeling. Overall, very Audi like in steering wheel feel, and steering feedback.

When the F30 came out, I was sure I was going to make it my next car, but then quickly shifted toward the F22 later on; I had my color, packages, trim, interior leather color, all of it picked out. Then after a year and a half, I finally got around to being serious about it. A couple weeks ago I test drove a BMW 230i (Sport package - summer tires), and was pretty shocked by the steering. I immediately felt it in the wheel, it just had this slightly empty hollow kind of feeling that almost seemed like it was missing something inside (like plastic encased razors that have a heavy metal bar going through them to give it a "premium" feel). The material felt fine for what it was, but the wheel felt a bit hollow. OK, so who cares? I put the car in drive and me and my 70 year old BMW dealer start our cruise drive. Within 5 feet distance I could tell the steering felt just like the wheel, hollow and numb. Buttery smooth; smoother than butter actually; electronically assisted artificial no resistance smooth. I said to myself, OK, but this is comfort mode right, so we'll give it some time and then put it in sport, I can see this being good for highway cruising. So we gave it some time, the comfort mode feels kind of floaty - still no road feel. Eventually I put it in sport mode, suspension change, engine blips, everything is great - and then the steering. The steering tightened up, quite a bit. The BMW didn't exactly feel loose before (compared to the Audi), but it sure got quite a bit tighter now. It now feels sporty, it now feels precise, it now feels quick and responsive, but it still felt numb, still hardly any road feel coming through whatsoever. Even compared to the A5, it feels more numb. What gives?

I test drove a 230i again a few days ago (much younger guy, lol) just to ensure I wasn't going insane (I was a little tired during the previous test drive), but the feeling was almost more dreadful this time around. Don't get me wrong, the car itself drives like a dream, super smooth engine, shiftable automatic is great, in sport mode the body rolls so so nicely (and I pushed it on several occasions). But without the actual steering feel, I left the drive feeling kind of unamused. I had way more fun in my Scion, as it's just much more tactile.

My brother has a 2012 328i which I've driven several times and his car has the same type of steering feel. To my luck the second dealer I was with showed me an M2 in the showroom and while the steering wheel looks identical to the "M" wheel in the 230i it doesn't have the same hollow feeling the 230i does. I was not able to actually drive the M2, but I don't think it would have the same lack of feedback that the regular 2-series would.

I test drove a Miata (2016) the other day just for kicks, and was pleasantly surprised to find the EPS to have much much more road feel than the BMW's. Maybe I'll consider that?

I'm just trying to find out if BMW all of a sudden doesn't care about the enthusiasts anymore, if their EPS system just isn't on par with the competition, or if they are just cheaping out nowadays and saving the good steering hardware for the M-series cars.

Last edited by VanillaCracker; 10-20-2016 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:34 PM
jjrandorin jjrandorin is offline
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Just curious... did you search bimmerfest for bmw numb steering? I believe the answer for your question might be in that search. So I dont get accused of being a "use the search!" nazi, the short answer is, steering is pretty light on most BMWs compared to older ones, reported by every person who owned an old one.

My particular car has VSS (the variable steering option) along with the adaptive suspension and the track package. Most report that if you check all the boxes, they (BMW) are pretty good. If you dont, not so much. You will need to decide. The M2 gets universal praise so you might need to get one of those, or switch to another brand if you are not willing to tick all the boxes.

(there is WAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY more info in probably several dozen threads on bimmerfest about steering for the F series cars.... you could read for days, but you probably wont like what you read).
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Old 10-21-2016, 06:25 AM
kenny164 kenny164 is offline
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I have the 16 228i with no X drive and the THP, so I think that counts as checking the right boxes in respect of the steering feel issue. In that connection I test drove a 228i with Xdrive and the M package, and felt the steering was somewhat more numb with the Xdrive.

Which was a factor in not getting the Xdrive (not the only one, but still...)

Despite checking the right boxes, and overall loving the car, and agreeing that the steering feel improves in Sport mode, I would say the steering feel, and lack thereof, is my biggest negative on the car. In fact it is my only negative of any significance.

Still, it's not that significant. I frankly am used to the steering feel now. There's enough in Sport mode that I don't really think and feel about it anymore.

I don't know if what I say here inspires any confidence in the OP, but there you have it.
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Old 10-21-2016, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanillaCracker View Post
I'm just trying to find out if BMW all of a sudden doesn't care about the enthusiasts anymore, if their EPS system just isn't on par with the competition, or if they are just cheaping out nowadays and saving the good steering hardware for the M-series cars.
Welcome to Bimmerfest, VanillaCracker! Based on my experience owning an F30 and driving F22 cars at BMW CCA and BMW of NA events (e.g., Ultimate Drive), the answer is no.

On my F30, the steering system works fine for both street and track driving. I have no complaints. You mentioned that the steering in the F22 you test drove (in SPORT mode) "feels sporty, it now feels precise, it now feels quick and responsive." That's what I found with my F30, which I always drive in SPORT mode as well.

Objective measurements that Car and Driver did a few years ago indicate that F30's steering is quicker and more responsive than that in the E90:

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Old 10-21-2016, 08:18 AM
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Old 10-21-2016, 11:44 AM
samplermike samplermike is offline
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Audi and Porsche do EPS and AWD better than BMW.
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Old 10-21-2016, 09:29 PM
Mick22 Mick22 is offline
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The lack of steering feel is the biggest negative in my car a 2015 228i with the track package. I am more use to it after a year and a half but still don't like it. I feel that sport only makes the steering heavier but doesn't add any road feel. It is too bad BMW has done this to the F series cars.
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Old 10-22-2016, 02:45 AM
Le Chef Le Chef is offline
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Totally Agree

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Originally Posted by Mick22 View Post
The lack of steering feel is the biggest negative in my car a 2015 228i with the track package. I am more use to it after a year and a half but still don't like it. I feel that sport only makes the steering heavier but doesn't add any road feel. It is too bad BMW has done this to the F series cars.
Compared to Lotus and Porsche, BMW's steering is weighty but numb. The fat steering wheel rim helps disguise the lack of feel as well.
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Old 10-22-2016, 07:43 PM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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Originally Posted by jjrandorin View Post
Just curious... did you search bimmerfest for bmw numb steering? I believe the answer for your question might be in that search. So I dont get accused of being a "use the search!" nazi, the short answer is, steering is pretty light on most BMWs compared to older ones, reported by every person who owned an old one.

My particular car has VSS (the variable steering option) along with the adaptive suspension and the track package. Most report that if you check all the boxes, they (BMW) are pretty good. If you dont, not so much. You will need to decide. The M2 gets universal praise so you might need to get one of those, or switch to another brand if you are not willing to tick all the boxes.

(there is WAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY more info in probably several dozen threads on bimmerfest about steering for the F series cars.... you could read for days, but you probably wont like what you read).
I did, at least in the F22 series section. It doesn't look like I did a very good job though. I more recently typed it in google, associated with bimmerfest and found better results.

I get the need to check all the boxes, and I have no problem buying a package (even if it cost an extra $3k on top of the M-Sport package) to get the sporty feel in which us drivers expect a BMW to be.

Do you know if VSS is a component, or just adding software functionality? The type of lack of feeling I've experienced does leave an impact and seems to be pretty definitive to me - I'm not sure if software would really fix it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenny164 View Post
I have the 16 228i with no X drive and the THP, so I think that counts as checking the right boxes in respect of the steering feel issue. In that connection I test drove a 228i with Xdrive and the M package, and felt the steering was somewhat more numb with the Xdrive.

Which was a factor in not getting the Xdrive (not the only one, but still...)

Despite checking the right boxes, and overall loving the car, and agreeing that the steering feel improves in Sport mode, I would say the steering feel, and lack thereof, is my biggest negative on the car. In fact it is my only negative of any significance.

Still, it's not that significant. I frankly am used to the steering feel now. There's enough in Sport mode that I don't really think and feel about it anymore.

I don't know if what I say here inspires any confidence in the OP, but there you have it.
Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your feedback on the topic, and I feel the same was as you when it comes to X-Drive. All wheel drive in general makes cars feel a bit more droney or disconnected. Maybe a better way to describe it is they seem to give a similar impact as a car using run flat tires vs. regular. Maybe not that dramatic, but I always go for RWD for best driving experience.

Couldn't agree with you more in sharing sympathy that I also love every other aspect of the car. For some reason I just can't kick this though. While everything else is great, steering probably means the most to me, by a decent margin. I'd be buying a BMW for a car that I personally find fun to drive. While BMW's mantra, styling, and class of car fits me quite nicely, I might actually need to look elsewhere if I am looking for more feel.
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Old 10-22-2016, 07:44 PM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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Originally Posted by gkr778 View Post
Welcome to Bimmerfest, VanillaCracker! Based on my experience owning an F30 and driving F22 cars at BMW CCA and BMW of NA events (e.g., Ultimate Drive), the answer is no.

On my F30, the steering system works fine for both street and track driving. I have no complaints. You mentioned that the steering in the F22 you test drove (in SPORT mode) "feels sporty, it now feels precise, it now feels quick and responsive." That's what I found with my F30, which I always drive in SPORT mode as well.

Objective measurements that Car and Driver did a few years ago indicate that F30's steering is quicker and more responsive than that in the E90:

Thanks! Glad to be here, and thank you for the data sheet; it actually looks pretty dramatic. Unfortunately what I am describing as a con is not the precision or quickness, but rather the feedback. Don't get me wrong, the car is extremely capable and everything is intuitively put together and intertwine. I'm just not getting the steering feedback I like. I don't know if this is a good analogy or not, but it's kind of the concept of a naturally aspirated engine vs turbocharge. Turbo is better, but it doesn't feel quite as natural. The steering on the F22 feels super accurate, but it just doesn't have that good steering feedback, or much of any from what I can tell.

Last edited by VanillaCracker; 10-22-2016 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 10-22-2016, 07:57 PM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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You get use to it.
That's kind of lame lol. I had that thought in my head too, but then I realized that if I'm going to just accept it, I might as well not even purchase the car. My goal out of a vehicle right now is to enjoy driving it due to a certain level of fun factor. The 230i is great at everything, but I'm not sure I was feeling the fun factor due to the steering feel. I'll be test driving again on Tuesday, and I'll probably have made a final decision after that.

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Originally Posted by samplermike View Post
Audi and Porsche do EPS and AWD better than BMW.
Well that sucks to hear. Audi's isn't even that great. Is all EPS that bad? I've driven an MX-5 Miata twice in the past month and it beats the Audi by a decent margin in steering feel.

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Originally Posted by Mick22 View Post
The lack of steering feel is the biggest negative in my car a 2015 228i with the track package. I am more use to it after a year and a half but still don't like it. I feel that sport only makes the steering heavier but doesn't add any road feel. It is too bad BMW has done this to the F series cars.
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Compared to Lotus and Porsche, BMW's steering is weighty but numb.
That's the exact same feeling I have about it and how I'll perceive my decision down the line. I hope you're enjoying the car! If I wasn't so picky about noticing the numb steering then I would be eager to purchase, but I am quite hesitant because of it. I suppose if I were to not go for it, then by the time the lease expires on any current purchase the next gen will be out and they'll have put better hardware into the steering.
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Old 10-23-2016, 01:53 AM
Le Chef Le Chef is offline
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I suspect that none of the 240's competitors are any better. You have to remember that these cars are based on more prosaic offerings that have to exist with Diesel engines and a quest for the best fuel economy. When your baseline is economy there's only so much you can change to make it better.

Sadly some of the cars with better steering (e.g. Renault Clio) are not available in USA.
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Old 10-23-2016, 07:15 AM
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Swapping out the lower control arms from the M2/M3/M4 helps nicely with steering feel! Really enjoying that recent mod!

https://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-3...-arms/?pdk=AQE
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Old 10-23-2016, 07:40 AM
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tl;dr
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Old 10-23-2016, 08:24 AM
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Tough luck, doctor? I give up?
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Old 10-23-2016, 09:42 AM
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Tough luck, doctor? I give up?
Here you go: Too long; didn't read
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Old 10-23-2016, 09:51 AM
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Here you go: Too long; didn't read
Ah....thanks....I guess it was ts;du

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Old 10-23-2016, 09:56 AM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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I suspect that none of the 240's competitors are any better. You have to remember that these cars are based on more prosaic offerings that have to exist with Diesel engines and a quest for the best fuel economy. When your baseline is economy there's only so much you can change to make it better.

Sadly some of the cars with better steering (e.g. Renault Clio) are not available in USA.
I drove a CLA the other day. POS overall (exaggeration), but in sport mode it actually did still have a bit more steering feel than the 230i. Overall it felt a ton less precise and just felt really sloppy and disjointed when speaking about tranny, engine, and steering cohesiveness - but for steering feel specifically, it was a tad bit better than the BMW.

Also, I know we're talking about direct competitors here, but I just wanted to point out one more time that the EPS in the Miata provides much better feedback. This feedback that I'm talking about is not the handling, or body roll feel, or anything else, aside from feedback of road to the wheel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sportstick View Post
Swapping out the lower control arms from the M2/M3/M4 helps nicely with steering feel! Really enjoying that recent mod!

https://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-3...-arms/?pdk=AQE
Interesting. Do you know if it's changed the actually steering feel at all? Or has it just changed the way the car drives/handles?

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Ah....thanks....I guess it was ts;du


Last edited by VanillaCracker; 10-23-2016 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 10-23-2016, 10:08 AM
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Interesting. Do you know if it's changed the actually steering feel at all? Or has it just changed the way the car drives/handles?
I can't speak for how others might react, but to me, the additional degree of negative camber from these LCAs did improve steering feel, as well as stability in cornering. It doesn't change an electronic steering setup to feel like hydraulic, but it was an improvement. I've shared this before, and so far, no one has written it off as a placebo effect.
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Old 10-23-2016, 04:26 PM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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I can't speak for how others might react, but to me, the additional degree of negative camber from these LCAs did improve steering feel, as well as stability in cornering. It doesn't change an electronic steering setup to feel like hydraulic, but it was an improvement. I've shared this before, and so far, no one has written it off as a placebo effect.
Right, that makes sense. Due to the wheel being tilted inward more, you have better stability during corners, most likely a significant difference for hard corners. Doesn't that cause major one sided tire wear though?
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Old 10-23-2016, 04:33 PM
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Right, that makes sense. Due to the wheel being tilted inward more, you have better stability during corners, most likely a significant difference for hard corners. Doesn't that cause major one sided tire wear though?
Two things:

1) I asked a few with more experience than I have about the likely effect, and they estimated 3,000 - 5,000 as the high end of lost tread life for this degree of added negative camber, so not too major, but meanwhile the passing miles feel so much better!

2) I have a square set-up, so I rotate every 5000 miles and may be on the lower side of the potential treadwear effects.

In all, if I just needed to get from point A to point B, my Subaru does that very well, all year long. For the degree of enjoyment this mod creates for me on the 2, the slightly earlier tire replacement cycle is just the price of doing business!! My wife needs even less excuse to buy new shoes, so why not me for the car?
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Old 10-24-2016, 06:46 AM
kenny164 kenny164 is offline
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Not to digress, but I am somewhat confused when people mention the Miata as an alternative to the 2 series. I must be missing something.
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Old 10-24-2016, 06:54 AM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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Originally Posted by Sportstick View Post
Two things:

1) I asked a few with more experience than I have about the likely effect, and they estimated 3,000 - 5,000 as the high end of lost tread life for this degree of added negative camber, so not too major, but meanwhile the passing miles feel so much better!

2) I have a square set-up, so I rotate every 5000 miles and may be on the lower side of the potential treadwear effects.

In all, if I just needed to get from point A to point B, my Subaru does that very well, all year long. For the degree of enjoyment this mod creates for me on the 2, the slightly earlier tire replacement cycle is just the price of doing business!! My wife needs even less excuse to buy new shoes, so why not me for the car?
That's actually not that bad at all. Keeps the car on it's toes!


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Not to digress, but I am somewhat confused when people mention the Miata as an alternative to the 2 series. I must be missing something.
When you're not driving a car for the luxury component, a Miata becomes more viable. I wouldn't actually care about the convertible part (would consider an RF). Looking for a car that's really fun to drive. Lack of steering feel sort of kills the experience for me.
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Old 10-25-2016, 11:12 AM
VanillaCracker VanillaCracker is offline
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Mein Auto: E92 328i
Test drove the 330i again today (as well as a MX-5 after), and with 3 test drives each, all of the characteristics and differences are now clear. My thoughts on the matter have pretty much remained the same, it's just more definitive now.

The BMW steering wheel is pretty awful. I drove a premium package car (mostly in sport mode), and two M-sport package cars (with the M steering wheel) - and both of them just have this terrible hollow feel to them. The driving itself gives very little feedback, and I was able to tell the difference between comfort and sport on an M-sport trim with summer tires versus a premium trim with run-flat tires, so I could tell when lack of feeling was related strictly to the tires (and potentially subjectively aided by the feel of the standard steering wheel). The only notable difference there was a bit less road feel with run flats, and in sport mode, the wheel overall in coordination with tires felt much heavier/tighter in sport mode with summer tires/M-sport package, when compared with premium package (subjective opinion).

I described the A5 steering wheel in my OP, but the Mx5 steering wheel feels like the good old-school kind, it feels substantial, and is wrapped in thin normal/good feeling leather (whereas the 230i kinda feels like faux leather). The wheel is a little more slender/thin (with fingers wrapped around it) compared to the BMW M-sport wheel, however it does not feel hollow in any way.

Comparing road feel (feel from front tires that goes through steering wheel - bumps on road, driveway enter/exits, etc.) from A5, Mx5, and 230i, I would say that I felt about 20% with the 230i, 35% road feel with the A5, and ~25-30% on the Mx5 (we drove on mostly really good roads). This is with 50-60% being the old standard HPS (from 2007 Scion tc), and putting 100% as a really heavy old-school steering system where you feel every jarring motion from the road, through the wheel. My personal preference would be at 60-70%, but I don't think any EPS system (right now) would be above 50% on my scale (which is fine).

With steering feedback aside, I think that the feel of Mx5 handling beats the A5 and 330i single handedly, most likely due to the lower height of 48" when compared to 54" from the A5 and 56" from the 330i, which may be providing much more turn responsiveness and feel in general - some of which I believe is going through the chassis as a whole (not talking about body roll here).

Aside from that, and creature comforts (not to undermine the vast differences between the Mx5 and BMW luxury), what I've written above describes the differences I've observed from my experience with those 3 cars.

As a whole package I think the 230i is fantastic, but I guess as steering feel has changed over the years I found myself going more and more towards true "sports cars" in order to meet my fun driving standards.

Last edited by VanillaCracker; 10-25-2016 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 10-25-2016, 02:24 PM
samplermike samplermike is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW 535i M-Sport
Still have not found better steering feedback than my first car, a 1986 Honda CRX SI.

The car did not have any power assisted steering whatsoever so it was virtually impossible to turn the steering wheel unless the cart was in motion.
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