July 13, 2012, 7:11 pm
First impressions of an F30 328 loaner, 30 mile round trip, rush hour each way, mix of freeway and city streets, i.e. less than quality time.
• I like the looks, especially from the rear 3/4 view. A fitting progression from the e90. Bet the coupe and M3 are going to be real nice. Not so keen on the snout but it's the shape of things to come and no real surprise given the 5's design - big family resemblance and better in person than pics.
• Maybe Luddite, but I don't see much progress in the interior. The auto shifter button thingys are probably smarter, less mechanical switches (thus, maybe more durable), but they’re less intuitive. The nav screen integration is not my idea of elegant design nor do I like the additional shiny bits scattered around. Hard to put a finger on it but kinda gives the impression of trying too hard to be "luxurious". I'm probably not a good judge, being more into spartan functionality (want luxury? – think chauffeured Bentley). And don't get me wrong, it all still functions pretty well and that's the goal.
• The 4 cyl was completely OK. Sure, it sounded like a four, felt ever so slightly rougher than the six but was very responsive. Lag seemed less than my 335 (maybe better tranny programming). Didn’t get a read on mpg but have no reason to think it wouldn’t be better than the e90. The gauge barely budged.
• I liked the smooth 8-spd transmission and found the three settings make real changes to the car’s overall attitude. Sport feels good and gets a lot out of the engine; Comfort was good around town too; Eco, didn’t spend much time there but it felt really, uh, economical.
• The auto stop/start function was fun to play with. Found I could ease up to a stop with little pressure on the pedal and keep the engine running. Likewise, if the engine shut off I could ease off the brake just until it restarted without it moving forward. The car only had 18 miles on it, so maybe everything loosens up with time, making that impossible. After the novelty wore off I cancelled it anyway and would probably get in that habit if I owned one.
• Steering? It's predictably quick and goes where pointed but feels a little disconnected. The road feel is reduced to a level I’d associate with…, well not with BMWs. Not a biggie and something that maybe will change in the future (with enough bad press).
• Nit picks – 1. turn signal indicator has a really robust click that you can hear over the Harley in your blind spot. 2. that blind spot seems bigger and the rear window smaller. 3. can’t they code radio software so that you can figure out how to change the tone settings in under 30 minutes and without the manual? (ok, so maybe it’s just me)
Overall the F30 left a good impression, and it should sell well if the numbers already around are an indicator. That’s not to say I wasn’t happy to get my 335 back, but that’s apples and oranges. Good luck with your decision.