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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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  #26  
Old 02-02-2012, 04:57 PM
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Awesome!!!! 328 sounds like a real winner
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  #27  
Old 02-02-2012, 05:15 PM
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In all fairness, so you know where I am coming from, I should list my E90 preferences in order:

1--335i 6MT Sport
2--328i 6MT Sport
3--335i 6AT Sport
4--328i 6AT Sport

I really don't like the GM-sourced AT in the 328i (sorry, it sucks), but I do like the ZF in the 335i.

- Mike
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  #28  
Old 02-02-2012, 05:19 PM
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Emission, your last statement about the N20 is enough reason to make the extra expense of the 335 worth it for me. I came to BMW for the inline six. I also like the upgraded mechanical features of the 335, such as the larger, four piston front brakes.

I am very disappointed to hear your assessment of the N20. I was hoping BMW had succeeded in its efforts to make it run smoothly. I am completely ruined to the inline six and I hope I'll never have to do without one.
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  #29  
Old 02-02-2012, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
Emission, your last statement about the N20 is enough reason to make the extra expense of the 335 worth it for me. I came to BMW for the inline six. I also like the upgraded mechanical features of the 335, such as the larger, four piston front brakes.

I am very disappointed to hear your assessment of the N20. I was hoping BMW had succeeded in its efforts to make it run smoothly. I am completely ruined to the inline six and I hope I'll never have to do without one.
And, that is exactly why I made that point.

I have no plans to buy an N20 either.

- Mike
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  #30  
Old 02-02-2012, 06:44 PM
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Emission,

Is the n20 actually not smooth or does it simply sound poorer than you'd like?

I'd be very surprised if it's actually a unsmooth engine - whereas that fuel-rail sound is far too common upon the turbo four crowd (audi, VW, genesis 2.0t, and now BMW....)

Your comments about their performance are staggering in their implications. I didn't realize how much more forward mass there might be in the n55. 50/50 weight distribution doesn't mean crap if the allocation of the weight makes it plow more.

Very curious to test drive a 328i now. Going to re-spec one out too...
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  #31  
Old 02-02-2012, 06:55 PM
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Mike,
Very helpful information.
Keep the hard work up!
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  #32  
Old 02-02-2012, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFromPA View Post
Emission,

Is the n20 actually not smooth or does it simply sound poorer than you'd like?

.
Some people won't tolerate this, but it sounds like a Civic - yes I drove a N20 8-sp.and there is noticeable lag as well. A N20 3-series is a downgrade from a I6 engine, in matter of quality of feeling which is something you should expect in a 45 large vehicle.

The difference in price between a Canadian 328i and 335i is 8000$. When I'll replace my E90, Plan A: Get as slightly used American F30 335i. Plan B: Get a new 328i, assuming that BMW will offer a Performance Exhaust that differentiates it from a Civic.
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  #33  
Old 02-02-2012, 07:33 PM
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Mike,

Thank you so much for the sacrifice, hard work and time you spent testing all these cars for us, it must have been tough. Next time, let me help out ok?

Ugh, I felt a knot in my stomach with regards to your feedback about the N20. This isn't good. I have a feeling I'll ultimately decide to keep my naturally aspirated inline 6 until it falls apart or trade it in for an new 328i E93 in its last year of production so I can hold on to it longer, then get a NA-flat six porsche when it dies. It may not have the 0-60 time posted by the newfangled 4-banger, but I just get so much fun out of how it sounds and reacts while remaining so composed. I like how it is rev-happy in a way that allows you to push it without breaking the speed limit. These things put a smile to my face. I don't think I'll ever grow tired of it and I'll likely miss it once it's gone. Plus, on a side note, the common thread to all BMW reliability issues has been the HPFP failures in the turbocharged models. Will this hit the N20 as well?! Is BMW putting all of its eggs in one basket by turbocharging everything in sight?
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  #34  
Old 02-02-2012, 07:55 PM
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I guess there is just no magic when it comes to the sound of a turbo 4. But the better balance of the N20 tilted the scale in favor of the N20 a little. Maybe a good aftermarket intake would mask the bad sound?
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  #35  
Old 02-02-2012, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtc100 View Post
I guess there is just no magic when it comes to the sound of a turbo 4. But the better balance of the N20 tilted the scale in favor of the N20 a little. Maybe a good aftermarket intake would mask the bad sound?
Wouldn't hurt
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  #36  
Old 02-02-2012, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emission View Post
Okay, so I just spent the day on the track with four different versions of the F30:

328i 6MT Sport
328i 8AT Sport
335i 6MT Sport
335i 8AT Sport

My time was equally spent, about 30-40 minutes in each back-to-back. All damn fun.

That said, in order of which is fastest around the track (assuming identical wheel/tire packages). My butt timer:

1--335i 8AT Sport
2--328i 8AT Sport (tie)
2--335i 6MT Sport (tie)
3--328i 6MT Sport

Okay, before you all soil your shorts... the N55 engine is heavier and placed much further forward in the nose of the 335i when compared to the N20 in the 328i. When driving both vehicles around the track at 10/10ths, the 335i will understeer much quicker (plow) while the 328i has faster turn-in. And, the big four-piston front brakes on the 335i (vs. the single-piston front brakes on the 328i) are offset by its additional mass. There is no obvious advantage on the track.

The 8AT is just about flawless on the track, cracking off bloody-fast shifts and always seeming to be in the torque curve. So good, that it makes the 6MT feel sloppy and with tall ratios (even Bill Auberlen said the 8AT is faster than the 6MT).

So, which keys would I grab first for driving on a track (not the fastest, but the most enjoyable):

1--328i 6MT Sport
2--335i 6MT Sport
3--328i 8AT Sport
4--335i 8AT Sport

Which keys would I grab first for driving on the street (money no object):

1--328i 6MT Sport
2--335i 6MT Sport
3--328i 8AT Sport
4--335i 8AT Sport

Lastly, which keys would I grab first if I was paying for the vehicle:

1--328i 6MT Sport
2--328i 8AT Sport
3--335i 6MT Sport
4--335i 8AT Sport

Being honest here, I feel the performance difference between the N20 and N55 doesn't warrant the price premium. They are less than 1/2 second apart to 60 mph. If the N55 was tuned to 340 horses, my tune would change.

That said, the N20 is buzzy as all hell. It feels like a four-cylinder engine in terms of vibration and sounds like a damn diesel at idle (super loud fuel rail). It doesn't try to be an inline-6 and it shouldn't. It does sound kinda cool at WOT.

The answers to some of your above questions to follow.

- Mike

LA Folk -- I may bring one car (335i 6MT Sport) down to Orange County on Saturday to show it off... if you want to check it out. More details to follow.
Great info. Thanks.
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  #37  
Old 02-02-2012, 09:03 PM
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This is fantastic info from a trusted source. Too bad about the N20 - there ain't no free lunch as BMW would have us believe. I guess everyone will have to drive it themselves and see if it's too much of a downgrade. Everything else about the 328i sounds great.
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  #38  
Old 02-02-2012, 09:16 PM
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Mike - thanks so much for posting all this. I know enduring all of this with slave like devotion must be awful....

Actually, being a watch freak myself, I was drooling over your getting to see what the winner's Daytona looks like This was my first trip to Daytona for the Rolex 24. I'm absolutely going back next year!

And count me in the 6 cylinder camp. Love my current GTI. But it's not an inline six is it?

Last edited by volsfan0911; 02-02-2012 at 09:20 PM.
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  #39  
Old 02-02-2012, 10:08 PM
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This post should be a stickie... At least for now. It goes w/o saying, but Thanx much emission.

I thought w/the counter-balance shafts I would [edit] not be hearing the buzzy part. Hoping it's still much less than my '09 JCW engine tho.

Last edited by m8o; 02-03-2012 at 09:38 AM.
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  #40  
Old 02-02-2012, 10:49 PM
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We all expect every single BMW engine to be a jewel... but the N20 is a compromise on smoothness.

Its strengths:

Fuel Economy
Size
Reliability
Power delivery

Its weaknesses:

Vibration
Engine note

Keep in mind that the N54/N55 isn't perfect either. While smooth as an infant's ass, it is big, and reliability has been sketchy...

I like the N20, and I will recommend it to everyone without reservations... but don't expect it to feel or sound like an inline-6 (hell, even a V6 doesn't feel or sound like an inline-6).

- Mike
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  #41  
Old 02-02-2012, 10:59 PM
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Answering a few questions from earlier (excuse my all CAPS questions):

HAS BMW ANNOUNCED A DIESEL?

Not as of yet. There will be no 3 Series diesel in 2012, and don't expect it to be a "performance" diesel like the 335d.

DOES THE NEW 335i OFFER VARIABLE SPORT STEERING?

Only on the Sport model. I drove cars wtih it (unknown to me) and I couldn't tell the difference. But, keep in mind that was under crazy track conditions.

IS THE N20 SLUGGISH OFF THE LINE?

No, it actually develops its power earlier than the N55.

HOW DOES THE HK AUDIO SOUND?

I will let you know tomorrow.

IS THE SUSPENSION TUNED FOR COMFORT OR SPORT?

Official BMW line is that the answer is both. Yeah, it is a bit of both. I prefer the Sport.

WHAT ABOUT THE FUEL SYSTEM? DID BMW CHANGE THEM?


Yes, BMW is convinced its HPFP issue is behind them.

WHAT ABOUT THE BRAKE UPGRADES?

BMW is using a four-piston front caliper on the 335i, and a single-sliding piston on the 328i. I feel the additional weight of the 335i offsets most of the increased braking capability.

ANY NEW TRICKS IN THE F30 TO IMPROVE THE N55 PERFORMANCE?

Just new aerodynamics, for better cooling and intake airflow.

ANY COOL NEW TECHNOLOGY UNDER THE HOOD?

Nope.

WHAT ABOUT THE M ACTIVE STEERING VS THE M SPORT OPTION?

The M Sport option is cosmetic, while the M ACTIVE is mechanical.

HOW DOES THE ELECTRIC STEERING FEEL?

Pretty damn good. I was impressed.

- Mike
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Last edited by Emission; 02-02-2012 at 11:02 PM.
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  #42  
Old 02-02-2012, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFromPA View Post
Your comments about their performance are staggering in their implications. I didn't realize how much more forward mass there might be in the n55. 50/50 weight distribution doesn't mean crap if the allocation of the weight makes it plow more.
Physics are interesting. You can have a front-engine and a mid-engine car with 50/50 weight balance -- the same. But on a track they are night and day on how they handle.

It all has to do with the polar movement of inertia (or something like that) which changes how the vehicle rotates on its axis on the track.

Nearly all of the engine mass of the N20 is behind the front axle, while the N55 hangs a couple cylinders forward. Plus, the front suspension on the 335i is beefier, and it has bigger front rotors... um... that will really change how it rotates in a corner.

- Mike
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  #43  
Old 02-03-2012, 01:56 AM
bm323 bm323 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emission View Post
HOW DOES THE ELECTRIC STEERING FEEL?

Pretty damn good. I was impressed.

- Mike
Hi, how is the steering feel of the F30 compared to the E90?
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  #44  
Old 02-03-2012, 04:06 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
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Mike,

Yeah, driving a boxster in anger a good amount, I've really gotten to discover the difference between balanced weight distribution and a truly centralized polar moment of inertia ( as well as all other major weight being very low or very centered).

In the other thread, I thought the new 335i sounded like crap. But it was internet video - not known for showing the true sound.

I've owned and driven a very wide variety of 4-cyl engines: legendary honda k20, Subaru EJ25 turbo, mitsubishi 1.8 n/a, GM ecotec 2.2, Subaru EJ20 turbo....

I've found each to be distinct and the Subaru & GM plants were rough, but the small displacement mitsubishi and honda engines were buttery smooth.

One thing I'll be curious to see - Porsche used to make flat six 2.0 liter engines. I wonder if BMW will ever go a similar route - a small displacement inline six.
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  #45  
Old 02-03-2012, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bm323 View Post
Hi, how is the steering feel of the F30 compared to the E90?
My litmus test isn't first impressions, but how it feels the second or third time I try it. That said, the F30 steering feels good enough that I completely forgot about it after an hour behind the wheel. After done with the track, BMW gave me a map with a long (200 mile) pre-planned test loop and asked me to grab some keys. Long story short, I took the 328i AT (non-sport), threw the map aside and went the long way from US101 to Monterey via Carmel Valley Rd. It is a very tight rural road (NOT on BMW's planned route ) and the F30 was a blast to drive. The steering... I never even thought about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFromPA View Post
Mike,

Yeah, driving a boxster in anger a good amount, I've really gotten to discover the difference between balanced weight distribution and a truly centralized polar moment of inertia ( as well as all other major weight being very low or very centered).

In the other thread, I thought the new 335i sounded like crap. But it was internet video - not known for showing the true sound.

I've owned and driven a very wide variety of 4-cyl engines: legendary honda k20, Subaru EJ25 turbo, mitsubishi 1.8 n/a, GM ecotec 2.2, Subaru EJ20 turbo....

I've found each to be distinct and the Subaru & GM plants were rough, but the small displacement mitsubishi and honda engines were buttery smooth.

One thing I'll be curious to see - Porsche used to make flat six 2.0 liter engines. I wonder if BMW will ever go a similar route - a small displacement inline six.
Along that note, Porsche will have its own 2.0-liter (or so) engine arriving very, very soon.

- Mike
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  #46  
Old 02-03-2012, 06:44 AM
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I forgot to add... one of the most striking things about the E90 -> F30 changeover is the driving dynamics. I swear they drive almost the same way.

It seems that nearly all of the changes are in cockpit (cosmetics, styling and electrical systems) and exterior styling. The mechanical bits and the driving dynamica are mostly unchanged. That really surprised me.

- Mike

P.S. - I am jumping behind the wheel of an F30 335i 6MT Sport for a five-hour drive back to LA. I'll answer more questions in six hours.
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Last edited by Emission; 02-03-2012 at 06:45 AM.
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  #47  
Old 02-03-2012, 06:58 AM
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Thanks for sharing Mike! Really good info
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  #48  
Old 02-03-2012, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emission View Post
We all expect every single BMW engine to be a jewel... but the N20 is a compromise on smoothness.

Its strengths:

Fuel Economy
Size
Reliability
Power delivery

Its weaknesses:

Vibration
Engine note

Keep in mind that the N54/N55 isn't perfect either. While smooth as an infant's ass, it is big, and reliability has been sketchy...

I like the N20, and I will recommend it to everyone without reservations... but don't expect it to feel or sound like an inline-6 (hell, even a V6 doesn't feel or sound like an inline-6).

- Mike
How is it that the trade rags say things like "you wouldn't know this was a 4-cylinder just from driving the car"? Perhaps that is only when not being pushed?
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  #49  
Old 02-03-2012, 07:46 AM
7or8 7or8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saintor View Post
..yes I drove a N20 8-sp.and there is noticeable lag as well.
Mike, can you comment on this later... how much lag is there in the F30 implementation of the N20 compared to the E90 N/A 328?

Thanks for all the great info! You the man!!
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  #50  
Old 02-03-2012, 07:49 AM
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Mike,

How would you compare the N20 to the VAG 2.0T? An engine that has been winning awards for a while now. Not really power, but more on smoothness, sound, power delivery, etc.

I have yet to find a turbo 4 that is as smooth and linear as the Audi unit
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