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3 Series / 4 Series
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  #1  
Old 03-12-2003, 09:12 AM
OBS3SSION OBS3SSION is offline
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Location: Feeding Hills, MA
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 2,961
Mein Auto: '02 M3 'Vert
First 2500 miles: Thoughts on my 330i, Step, HK, Nav and other aspects

Well, it's taken me about a month and a half to reach 2500 miles on my new 330i. I figured I'd take a few paragraphs and put my thoughts on the car in a post to be shared with the forum. First, let me quickly recap what I have... A 2003 330i, Tourmaline Violet with black leather, Premium, Sport and Cold Weather packages, Steptronic, bi-xenons and navigation.

The Steptronic

There seems to be a strong point of view from most members about driving an automatic versus a manual. Well, most of my cars have been sticks, and I used to agree that you had to drive a manual to truly be able to enjoy driving a car. I was wrong. Over time, whether because of laziness or poor coordination, my manual driving technique became sloppy. Enough so that my wife began complaining about how I lurched the car about when shifting. Even I felt it, and disliked driving the manual in traffic or when I was tired after work. So we decided the 330i would have the Step.

The Steptronic isn't as responsive as a manual transmission, nor a true SMG I suppose, but it's good enough, and pretty damn fun. I'm finding that I use the manual mode most of the time. As a matter of fact, I'm sure I'm much quicker not having to muck about with a shifter and clutch. I'm able to rev as high as I want, shift when I want, and use engine braking when I want. And I get all this with no lurching and the ride is nice and smooth. While a small part of me will always pine for a true gearbox, I'm happy with my choice.

The HK Soundsystem

I came from a car with no stock CD player in the dash, and only basic speakers. I wound up upgrading to a complete aftermarket setup... HU, speakers, sub, amps. It was a pretty sweet setup... at least I think so. So, I was coming from pretty high standards when I got the 330i. Of course, it came with the HK system standard. At first, I was disappointed in it. Lack of bass. Muddy sound from the speakers. Static sounds from the speakers. But I've given the system some time, and I feel it gets more of a bad rap than it deserves.

Sure, it's not a high-end competition super-sounding system. But it's adequate for day-to-day listening. I found that after tweaking the tone controls (more bass, fade more to the front), the system actually sounds pretty good. In fact, I've found that for some reason, the HK system is much pickier when it comes to source material. Some systems will pretty much play any CD with roughly the same sound quality. The HK will shine when a CD is played with terrific sound quality, while everything will sound muted and muddy on a CD that has poor sound quality. Ironically, I've found the BMW demo CD that came with the car to be one of the worst sounding CD's I've yet put in the system!

With a good quality CD, and the tone settings set nicely, I can pretty much enjoy the HK system without remorse for loosing my old custom system. Occasionally, certain songs with specific frequencies will cause a static-like sound to emanate from the speakers. While annoying, I wasn't immune from this on my custom setup either. In fact, with my amps and sub, I was more prone to rattle then than I am now.

The Nav System

Okay, I admit. I got this for the "cool factor". I didn't need it... I've been driving around for years with maps and directions, and never got lost. However, the nav is a wonderful tool for the gadget freak like me. Even if I know where I'm going, sometimes it's just a great thing to know how much further you have to go, or how long until the next interchange. It's especially nice to be able to call home and tell my wife my ETA down to within a couple minutes (you know, so dinner is ready...) I've also been on the road and stopped for food at some greasy spoon, only to find out there was a whole street full of better choices just around the corner. I must say, the nav... particularly because of the female voice... really gives the car a personality. (Especially when she "yells" at me for going too fast!)

Many people will complain that BMW is way behind in nav technology. Sure, the Germans don't seem to be on the bleeding edge of certain things like the Japanese are. But, I'll tell you what... for someone who's never had a nav system before, the BMW nav is a wonderful thing. I don't find it too difficult to use at all. Now, if I were used to the slick systems like in a Lexus or something, then I might be singing a different tune. But I'm happy, and that's what matters.

The Car In General

So, what about the car overall? Well, so far I like it. Unfortunately, the dead of winter in the northeast makes it difficult to enjoy the car to its fullest. (I can't wash it by hand, I can't drive out outright for fear of ice and potholes, etc.) But from what I've been able to do with it these first couple thousand miles, I'm happy.

The purr of the engine/exhaust is nice. Reminds me that I finally own a true sports sedan... not a sedan that I pretended was a sports sedan (though my Passat did a very good job, once modded appropriately.) I love the styling inside and out. The power is more than enough (at least for now) and the handling and steering response is better than any other car I've driven to date. I can't wait to bring it out on some true twisties once the weather gets better. Overall, just about everything I had to add to my Passat in mods came standard on the 330i... and then some!

My dislikes? Well, my last 3 cars were Passats... so I'm used to a bigger car. At 6'3" and 225, I still fit in the driver's seat with no problems. I don't have the stretching room I used to, but if you really need to stretch, you should get out of the car anyway. However, I know that my back-seat passengers must suffer more now. Oh well, too bad for them! Actually, my kid sister is probably the one who rides with us the most, and she has no complaints back there. (She always loves her brother's cool cars.) However, one thing I'm having a hard time coping with is the lack of storage space. The storage locations are the same as my Passat (glove box, arm rest, door pockets, seat nets, trunk), but they are all tiny compared to what I had. This would be my one, biggest complaint at the moment. But then again, I knew what I was getting into when I decided on the 3 over the 5 because I wanted a "true" sport sedan.

What else? I should mention snow handling. So far, I'm amazed at this car's behavior in the white stuff. I had a set of Toyo Garit HT snow tires and 16" wheels waiting for her when I brought her home. Good thing, I came home to a nor'easter. With the snow tires, the 330i with DSC has been handling better than any of my FWD cars I've ever owned... even when they had snow tires. This was my biggest fear, and prompted me to consider the xi. But I now know that I would have no problem buying another RWD BMW again, even with the white stuff flying.

So, there you have it. Sorry for being so long-winded. Now I need to start with the personalization. I should start with some window tint, and perhaps some clear turn signals. perhaps some upgraded wheels, and if I'm really adventuresome, some Dinan or equivalent stuff too. Now, if the frelling weather would just get nice so I can drive this car the way it was meant to be driven!
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Eric (the Obsessed)

2002 M3 Convertible
2005 VW Passat 1.8T Wagon
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  #2  
Old 03-12-2003, 09:20 AM
ronrich's Avatar
ronrich ronrich is offline
Confused.
Location: New Orleans
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 4,913
Mein Auto: 2002 325i / 2011 328i
Re: First 2500 miles: Thoughts on my 330i, Step, HK, Nav and other aspects

Quote:
Originally posted by OBS3SSION
. I must say, the nav... particularly because of the female voice... really gives the car a personality. (Especially when she "yells" at me for going too fast!)

What are you talking about willis?
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  #3  
Old 03-12-2003, 09:48 AM
Mr Paddle.Shift Mr Paddle.Shift is offline
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Location: bmw
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,848
Mein Auto: bmw
Re: First 2500 miles: Thoughts on my 330i, Step, HK, Nav and other aspects

Hate to do this, but now that you mentioned about Steptronic...

The fun factor for driving a Step can be enhanced with paddle-shifting. Still not a TRUE SMG system but hey, the paddles interaction is still there.


Quote:
Originally posted by OBS3SSION

The Steptronic

There seems to be a strong point of view from most members about driving an automatic versus a manual. Well, most of my cars have been sticks, and I used to agree that you had to drive a manual to truly be able to enjoy driving a car. I was wrong. Over time, whether because of laziness or poor coordination, my manual driving technique became sloppy. Enough so that my wife began complaining about how I lurched the car about when shifting. Even I felt it, and disliked driving the manual in traffic or when I was tired after work. So we decided the 330i would have the Step.

The Steptronic isn't as responsive as a manual transmission, nor a true SMG I suppose, but it's good enough, and pretty damn fun. I'm finding that I use the manual mode most of the time. As a matter of fact, I'm sure I'm much quicker not having to muck about with a shifter and clutch. I'm able to rev as high as I want, shift when I want, and use engine braking when I want. And I get all this with no lurching and the ride is nice and smooth. While a small part of me will always pine for a true gearbox, I'm happy with my choice.
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  #4  
Old 03-12-2003, 10:03 AM
skyehill skyehill is offline
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Location: Chapel Hill
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 138
Mein Auto: 2003 330i (step.)
I just hit 666 miles today on my 330i (I thought about driving around the parking lot until it hit 667, but decided I liked the evil overtone). I think having driven a 2000 coupe for 3 years prepared me for the lack of storage space.

The upgrade you really need is XM radio.

As for your comments on the Step. Couldn't agree more. Before BMWs, I drove Hondas, and those were some manual automobiles. The BMW manual isn't terrible, but it's no Honda. Because of the break-in period, I don't find myself much in manual mode because it's too easy to get it past the 4500 point. I'm looking forward to being able to use it soon though.

Spring is almost here, so I hope you get to open that thing up soon.
  #5  
Old 03-12-2003, 10:18 AM
PhilH PhilH is offline
Audi, BMW or Porsche???
Location: Philadelphia, PA
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 3,922
Mein Auto: 2010 S4, 2004 X3 2.5i
I really enjoy the sound of the HK system. It's the best sounding car stereo I've ever had, although you really do have to be careful about distortion at what seems to be moderate sound levels. The only thing I really miss with the HK is a tape deck, since I have about 500 albums/CDs on tape and only about 100 CDs. I would have appreciated a combination tape/CD unit.

Right now my car has 1100 miles on it and I'm totally ready to get closer to redline on that great engine.
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  #6  
Old 03-12-2003, 10:46 AM
F1Crazy's Avatar
F1Crazy F1Crazy is offline
racer wannabe
Location: .
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3,284
Mein Auto: '12 X5,'08 535i, '03 325i
I'm also a new BMW owner here and so far I've put 7K fun miles on my car since late November.
The only problem I have with my car is lack of manual tranny, it will be on my next BMW, no matter how much my wife will whine.
Having said that if there has to be alternative to true manual I'm glad it is the steptronic. I've driven quite a few manumatics and this one is the best by far. If I decide to keep the car longer Vince's SMG paddle retrofit will be on my shopping list.
  #7  
Old 03-12-2003, 11:21 AM
Jspeed Jspeed is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 800
Mein Auto: E46 330i
Excellent review. Glad you're enjoying the car.

Edit: BTW if you want to get adventurous with modding go check out the fanatics. Signal-to-noise ratio is lower than here but there are some good info. You'll see that Dinan is hardly your best choice.

Last edited by Jspeed; 03-12-2003 at 11:27 AM.
  #8  
Old 03-12-2003, 01:43 PM
OBS3SSION OBS3SSION is offline
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Location: Feeding Hills, MA
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 2,961
Mein Auto: '02 M3 'Vert
Re: Re: First 2500 miles: Thoughts on my 330i, Step, HK, Nav and other aspects

Quote:
Originally posted by VinceTopasBlau3
Hate to do this, but now that you mentioned about Steptronic...

The fun factor for driving a Step can be enhanced with paddle-shifting. Still not a TRUE SMG system but hey, the paddles interaction is still there.
Yeah... your kit is on my wishlist. Just don't know if I'll ever do it. BTW, what is your kit with a wheel running now? And more importantly, is de-mod to stock easy and possible... the car is leased?
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Eric (the Obsessed)

2002 M3 Convertible
2005 VW Passat 1.8T Wagon
  #9  
Old 03-12-2003, 01:47 PM
JST's Avatar
JST JST is offline
A sudden sense of liberty
Location: U of ///M
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,935
Mein Auto: 535xiT, Golf R, 987S
Quote:
Originally posted by skyehill
The BMW manual isn't terrible, but it's no Honda.
Er. Where is the spit-take smilie?
  #10  
Old 03-12-2003, 01:48 PM
Mr Paddle.Shift Mr Paddle.Shift is offline
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Location: bmw
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,848
Mein Auto: bmw
Wow! I didn't know my kit will be on someone's shopping list! Let me know when you decide to. Special pricing extended to Bimmerfest members only.

Quote:
Originally posted by F1Crazy
If I decide to keep the car longer Vince's SMG paddle retrofit will be on my shopping list.
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  #11  
Old 03-12-2003, 01:53 PM
Mr Paddle.Shift Mr Paddle.Shift is offline
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Location: bmw
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,848
Mein Auto: bmw
Re: Re: Re: First 2500 miles: Thoughts on my 330i, Step, HK, Nav and other aspects

Yup, totally reversible. Won't leave any trace of retrofit or modifcations. The price of the kit and the wheel has been pretty much the same for the last couple of months (check my website: http://www.bmw-paddleshift-retrofit.com). However, BMW AG increased the price of the SMG wheel just about 1.5 weeks to MSRP US$667.50. Ouch.

Still, my latest price will stay for a while before I feel the need to increase it.

Like I promise to F1Crazy, special discount for Bimmerfest members.

Quote:
Originally posted by OBS3SSION
Yeah... your kit is on my wishlist. Just don't know if I'll ever do it. BTW, what is your kit with a wheel running now? And more importantly, is de-mod to stock easy and possible... the car is leased?
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  #12  
Old 03-12-2003, 07:20 PM
rwebbe rwebbe is offline
Lead Foot
Location: Melbourne, FL
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 442
Mein Auto: '02 330ci
Nav System

Does your Nav System allow the writing of address and No. at address together? On mine I have to scroll through new address retreive address to print address number. Also mine drops the address number once the cycle is competed ie: reached programed destination. Can you adjust the fine lady's volume with radio on and/or radio off. I ask this because my volume of the lady is erratic. Sometime loud sometimes soft and is not adjustable. Let me know as my car will be a year old on the 23rd and I hope to receive a Nav unit that works as designed. The remainder of my coupe is great.
  #13  
Old 03-13-2003, 04:40 AM
OBS3SSION OBS3SSION is offline
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Location: Feeding Hills, MA
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 2,961
Mein Auto: '02 M3 'Vert
Re: Nav System

Quote:
Originally posted by rwebbe
Does your Nav System allow the writing of address and No. at address together? On mine I have to scroll through new address retreive address to print address number. Also mine drops the address number once the cycle is competed ie: reached programed destination. Can you adjust the fine lady's volume with radio on and/or radio off. I ask this because my volume of the lady is erratic. Sometime loud sometimes soft and is not adjustable. Let me know as my car will be a year old on the 23rd and I hope to receive a Nav unit that works as designed. The remainder of my coupe is great.
Lets see if I understand your question, and if I can answer it...

When I put in an address I want to go to, I first enter the city and state, then the street name, and finally the house number or intersection. After I arrive, I'm able to get that address again from my recent destinations list without loosing any information.

As for the volume, yes... I can adjust Twilight's volume with or without the radio on. However, there's a trick to getting the volumes just right... and I haven't found it yet.

It sounds to me like you might need a nav software version update.
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2002 M3 Convertible
2005 VW Passat 1.8T Wagon
  #14  
Old 03-13-2003, 07:02 AM
rwebbe rwebbe is offline
Lead Foot
Location: Melbourne, FL
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 442
Mein Auto: '02 330ci
Navigation System

Thanks for the reply. Your right, mine really has problems. One last question. Do you have the CD or DVD. Sounds like DVD when you have to enter State. You will enjoy your car to no end and discover new and wonderful things about it every day. They are strong. Mine got tail butted by a Kenworth Semi and has been repaired to BMW specs. Looks like new and drives well. Wheels were not out of alignment following crash only from previous 12,000 mile use. Can't say the same for my body. Still sore and aching after 6 weeks. Mostly harness and belt related plus the forward motion of head (whiplash).
 

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