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  #1  
Old 08-03-2004, 06:13 PM
eelnoraa eelnoraa is offline
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Location: Bay Area
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Mein Auto: 04 330i SP 6 speed
745i Z4-3.0 525i-Manual X3-3.0 X5-4.4 Test drive, 4 hours

I test drove the above cars in Fremont BMW (former Claridge BMW) in Frement Auto Mall. It was one of those Breast Cancel donation event.

Let me get to the point. The predetermined test drive route is about 20 miles, include mostly freeway and some local road in industrial area. But since they let us have the car all by ourselves, and all we need to do is to return the car within the time slot (which is about 45 minutes) we decided to take a slightly differently route. The main difference is we took less freeway, instead we took road in the industrial area, which is very empty during working hour so that we can do some fast accelaeration, cornering and braking.

here is my conclusion on each of the above cars
1. 745i. This is the first car I drove which spoiled me for the rest of the day. It made me feel dissatisfied about the rest of the car. This car feel heavy and big (which is true), however the steering wheel is on the light side, feel a little numb, but make manuver very easy. Power is very good. It feel a little slow off line, but once get moving, the power is scary. This car feels very comfortable in all condition. Seats are soft, suspension absorb bumps very well, it is virtually silent even engine is running at red line. The handling of this big ar is surprisingly good. I would say it is on par with my 330i SP. Body roll is non existance even taking freeway ramp at very high speed. During cornering, the soft seats are very supportive, suspension also response very well. Interior material quality on this car is also very nice. it is what a expansive car should be.

2. Z4 3.0 SP. This car is a toy. First impression is its exhaust is loud, in a good way. I recalled that BMW purposely route the sound of the engine and exhaust to the drive. I can understand why it means now. Power is also very good. Very quick off line, and pull stronge on freeway speed. Steering wheel has the classic BMW feel, which is tight, quick and responsive. The car oversteer a little, it handles extreme good. The only thing I don't like about Z4 is its interio material quality. Not only that it doesn't compare to 745i, it is not as good as 3 series, but quite a bit better than 5 series and X3.

3. 525i SP PP Active Steering 6 speed. First impression is the shifter and throw are long, longer than stock 330 manual. Clutch is lighter than 3 series, take up point is vague but a lot more linear. I think it feels vague because the take up action is over a wider range of clutch travel. I would say 5 sereies manual is easier to operate than 3 series manual. This car is also very quite. It feels more isolated compare to 3 series. This car is under power, 2.5L is too small for this car, it feel weak at all gears and rpm. Luckily it is a manual, I cannot imagine what happen with steptronics. Handlign wise, it is also quite good, on par with my 330i SP. Comfort wise, it is not bad either, better than 3 series. Interiro material is also at fault, worse than 3 series, not even on par with Z4. One good thing I notice is fuel comsumption here is very good, on my 20 miles hard driving, I still get 23MPG. The over all average in this car is 22.8MPG, I assume it is over the 17K of test drive miles average that the car has

4. X3 3.0 SP PP. First impression is how bad the interior quality it is. Door panel and dash are all hard plastic. The brush aluminum trim also seem on the low quality side, they are not as good quality as those brush AL in 3 series. For me, this is totally not acceptable for a $40K car. Now the drive, X3 is actually very comfortable, better than 330i SP. Suspension aborb bumps better. Handling wise, it is not bad at all for a SUV, probably on the same level as 3 series without SP. Power wise, it is compatibale with my 330i except off line. the average MPG of this vehical is 18.8MPG which is fair.

5. X5 4.4 SP PP 19IN comfort seat NAV. First impression is how much better the interio it is compare to the last 3 cars. The whole interior feels like a e39 5 series. X5 is higher than X3, also wider. I don't know why BWM claim X3 has compatible space with X5, coz I can feel that X5 is a lot wider a lot more space, front and back. X5 seems very heavy, the 4.4 give a strong pull in highway speed, but off line, it is a bit slow. Aslo I notice that the responsiveness of either the engine or the transmision is quite slow. I step on the gas, then about 0.5 second later, the car start to surge forward. Handling wise, it is good for a SUV of this size, but not as good as X3. Another fault of the X5 is its NAV, the way the NAV is mounted, so far away from the drive, and since it is mounted at a 45 degree angle, the screen it easily wash out by the sun. I was having trouble seeing the screen during the whole time. Average MPG here is 15.5MPG.

This is what I can think of now. Sorry of the rough English and thought. I hope I can be a little more organized, but I am afraid that I will forget something, so I just write down whatever that is in my memory now.

Here is the summery:

Power overall feeling: 745i >= Z4 > X5-4.4 > 330i > X3-3.0 > 525i
Steering feeling: Z4 > 330i > X3 > X5 > 745i > 525i
Handling: Z4 > 745 > 330 > 525 > X3 > X5
Brake feel: 745 >>> Z4 ~= 330 ~= 525 ~= X3 > X5
Comfort: 745 > X5 > 525 > X3 > 330 > Z4
MPG: 525 > 330 > > Z4 > X3 > 745 > X5 Base on OBC
Interior Quality: 745i > X5 > 330 >> Z4 > 525 > X3
Auto Transmisson responsiveness: Z4 > X3 > 745 >> X5
Manual Transmission Clutch: 525 > 330
Maunal Transmision Shifter: 330 > 525
NAV: 330 >> X5

Feel free to give your comments

eel
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  #2  
Old 08-03-2004, 08:19 PM
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cantona7 cantona7 is offline
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Nice write-up

I drove the same cars you did, except for the 5er, at an Ultimate Drive event a couple of weeks ago and had a very similar reaction to the cars as you. But I think I liked the Z4 a lot more than you did. I also agree that the X3's interior materials could be a little better. By the way, the X5 IS more spacious for the driver and passengers, but the X3 actually does have a bit more interior space--it's just allocated differently.
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  #3  
Old 08-03-2004, 11:57 PM
eelnoraa eelnoraa is offline
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Location: Bay Area
 
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Mein Auto: 04 330i SP 6 speed
I like Z4 3.0 a lot too. The car is very tossable. At high speed, ~ 90MPH, the car is very stable, made me want to go faster. The slight oversteer character really makes the car fun to drive. The sound of the car is quite loud, but definite in a nice way. I was a bit not used to hear most of the sound coming from the back of the car.

The only other car I like better is 745i. I was so surprised that such a large car can handle so good while still very comfortable.

I only got to drive 5 cars, because I have to go back to work. I should have take that half day off to drive the rest of the models. Something I really want but didnt get a chance to drive is the 5 series SMG and 645i. Well, I guess next year

eel
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  #4  
Old 08-04-2004, 05:25 AM
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cantona7 cantona7 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 Imola M3
My wife drove the 5er SMG (530i) and liked it quite a bit. She said that she was surprised that it didn't feel underpowered. The 645Ci is a very nice car and it has awesome braking power, but if I was in the market for a convertible, I'd get the Z4 and save a ton of money.
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  #5  
Old 08-04-2004, 01:28 PM
ChosenGSR ChosenGSR is offline
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Mein Auto: 97 M3
I have a hard time believing that the 745 outhandles the 330
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  #6  
Old 08-04-2004, 09:19 PM
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cantona7 cantona7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChosenGSR
I have a hard time believing that the 745 outhandles the 330
I certainly wouldn't go so far as to say that the 7er outhandles a 3er. However, for a car that big and heavy, it certainly handles like a champ. If I put on 300 pounds and needed a big honkin' daily driver--and if I had the cash--I wouldn't think twice about the big 7. Oh, and the butt massage seats rock!
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  #7  
Old 08-04-2004, 09:26 PM
eelnoraa eelnoraa is offline
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Location: Bay Area
 
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Mein Auto: 04 330i SP 6 speed
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChosenGSR
I have a hard time believing that the 745 outhandles the 330
I was a little exagerating when I said 745i handle on par with 330SP. 330SP handles better, mainly feel more agile and tossable. 745 is not far behind, it is also very agile, body roll is less than 330SP ,just not as tossable. If you realize how large 745 is, you will be amazed how well it handle. What makes it more amazing is that with all the good handling character, it is still very comfortable, a lot more comfortable than 330SP (of course). When I get older and need a large car, 745 wold be on the top of my shoppign list

eel
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  #8  
Old 08-05-2004, 03:43 PM
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Spectre Spectre is offline
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Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
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Mein Auto: 330i
Quote:
Originally Posted by eelnoraa
Breast Cancel
Yes, this sometimes happens to women stricken with breast cancer, but with early detection mastectormies can frequently be avoided.
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"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Mystic Blue 330i, SP, PP, Nav, Heated Seats, Step -- ED July 10, 2003
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