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Help!!

I've been recommending the new 3-series to friends for the last year or so, mainly based on reviews. The one problem with that--I had never driven one.

You see, I was planning to order one for european delivery this Fall, a 328i. My wife and I were planning a trip to Europe anyway to visit some friends in Poland and some in the south of France; and I like the idea of a free(ish) rental car.

So, I went to the local BMW dealer yesterday and drove a 330i. I'm not exactly sure why we drove the 330i instead of the 325i, but the salesperson took 5 minutes to find the keys so I didn't mind--it had the sport package. I was underwhelmed. It was slow, and it seemed a bit vague around corners. Hmm. It was ok, but it was an automatic. They didn't have a single manual, so I'm hoping that the reason I was underwhelmed was solely the transmission.

I should back up a step though--right before driving the 3-series, I drove a Volkswagen GTI, again automatic. It was a blast to drive. In fact, the transmission even blips the throttle when it downshifts. Would I buy an automatic--no. When hammering around corners, it just can't know what you're doing, so it lags. That's the reason I drove the 330i in automatic, since I had driven the GTI in the automatic. Which is more fun to drive?--the GTI, hands down. The only problem is that they don't have European delivery for the VW.

I recently drove a friend's Audi S4 automatic. I know it has more horsepower than the BMW, but it was also fairly sluggish. Again, it was an automatic, so that may be the problem. That car had all kinds of "save you from yourself" computer-controlled safeguards, so maybe that was the problem.

Am I missing something? The BMW is fun to drive, right? It must have been the transmission, I'm guessing. But the suspension didn't impress me either. This car had the sport package but seemed to wallow in the corners compared to the GTI. Body roll, vagueness, all there in the BMW--not so in the VW.

The BMW is supposed to replace my wife's VW Jetta and now I'm not sure if that's what we should do. If I take her down there and she comes to the same conclusion, we may soon have another VW in our family (and we'll be driving a Punto through Europe this Fall). Help!?

Was anyone else underwhelmed with the BMW automatic? I really need to drive the manual, as I would only buy the manual--they're difficult to find . . . grrr.

--Kevin
Sonoma County, CA
'04 Honda Element
'04 Boxer Cup
 

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KevinR_51 said:
...I've been recommending the new 3-series to friends for the last year or so, mainly based on reviews. The one problem with that--I had never driven one.

...we may soon have another VW in our family...
Why would you recommend a car to friends that you have never even driven? :dunno: :rolleyes: :thumbdwn:

Save yourself some money and get another VW.
 

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This thread is a huge waste of time. First the poster is comparing a 330 to a VW GTI. Second, the poster claims to have driven both cars and apparently greatly prefers the "handling" and "power" of the VW over the BMW. Then you say you think maybe the only difference is the transmission, but you go on to slam the handling and suspension of the 330. If this is your conclusion, then you wouldn't like the 330 with the 6 sp either, why ask a question you already know the answer to?

Yet after test driving both vehicles, the poster is *still* not sure which vehicle is better, so he comes here to post his slam of the 330i and to solicit advice from members as to why he should buy a 330 over the GTI, even though he hates the 330. Sounds like he is trolling for a fight.

Well, my advice is this: I know the 330 ZSP cannot possibly compare to the power and handling of the Honda Element identified in your sig, you have obviously been spoiled and cannot drive anything that handles worse than the Element. Therefore, I'd stick with the toaster and call it a day.
 

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Manual vs. Auto

I test drove a 325xi in manual and thought that it was alot of fun and was happy with the power. I also drove a 330i in auto and much preferred the 325. That is why I ordered a 328xi in manual for ED. I found the 325 stick to be more lively than the 330 auto. I don't know if that is because the engine in the 3 series is just so smooth and you feel the power more with a stick than with an auto as you are more connected with the driving experience. Either way you should not need someone else to convince you that a car is the right one for you. If you don't like it you don't like it. That is why there are hundreds of car models, there is one for everyone. There is no crime in like a VW over a bimmer, although some here may disagree with that.
 

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adgrant said:
Perhaps because they build most of them in Mexico.
U.S.-market Jettas are built in Mexico, but all U.S. Golfs and Rabbits are to be built in Wolfsburg, Germany.

German robots must cost even less than Mexican workers.
 

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The VW GTI is a sweet ride and it has a DSG transmission which makes it very driver-oriented. It's light and the engine is peppy which makes it fun around the twisties. That being said, I cannot imagine one finding the 330i and the Audi S4 "sluggish", slow, and unimpressed by the suspension of either of those vehicles. That is unless you also stopped by the Ferrari dealership after your VW escapade.

The only thing I can think of is that BMW's and Audis tend to have heavier pedals and many of us actually prefer this. I just can't believe anyone having issues with a ZSP equipped car in the twisties and being disappointed. Are you sure you test drove a bmw? Maybe it was rebadged Hyundai Accent.
 

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I agree with your statement on the "heavier pedals". I for one, noticed my fathers 328i's pedals were much heavier than my Infiniti. I thought the car was sluggish until I got used to the pedal. Then I was hooked. :)

I can't believe that the handling of the BMW didn't impress!
 

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I suspect you either don't know how to drive a car, or you didn't push the car much. Or you just don't appreciate proper handling. Nothing that is practical and in the same league can touch a BMW.
 

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Um, the VW/Audi DSG is not an "automatic" transmission. That blipping is actual rev matching for a sequential manual shifter. How could you possibly compare a BMW auto vs. a VW DSG tranny?
 

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I test drove a GTI manual and a 325i manual/sport and a 330i manual/sport.

hands down, the BMW is the car to go with. I can't properly explain the feeling I had when I was in the GTI, but it seemed so much more UNsafe than the BMW. when I tried to take a corner fast, it almost slipped out of my hands. when I tried to gun it from a full stop, it totally lagged more than the BMW. the GTI does have more overall 'oomph' when you punch it but to me, the BMW just seemed safer and quicker overall.

but to each his/her own.
 

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Drive a used 325 or 330 manual. Motors are tight when new and that makes a new car feel slow. They get better and better over the first 10K miles or more. Search for a CPO car with a manual and a few thousand miles on it. Should be a much different experience than your test drive.
 

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I borrowed a 330 sedan this weekend from the local dealer (taking it back tonight). During my 10 minute test drive a month ago, I wasn't all that impressed either. Took the BMW off the list, looked elsewhere... but something kept me thinking about the 330. Decided to take it for a long weekend and put it thru the paces- NOW I see what the fuss is about. It absolutely trumps anything else I've ever driven or ridden in. My wife was with me on all drives so I couldn't get too nasty with it, but I did enough to raise our eyebrows several times.

I am a very critical carbuyer and hard to impress. There are certainly things about the 330 I flat out don't like... but in all the critical categories, this car is fantastic. After driving 20+ vehicles in the last month, I found myself caring about power, handling, and comfort above all else, and that is why the 330 will likely be my next vehicle.
 

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The MT will transform your experience of the 3-series. That said, the GTI is a really tempting competitor, but it doesn't have the refinement or the build quality of a BMW -- but then, it is tons cheaper.

KevinR_51 said:
Help!!

I've been recommending the new 3-series to friends for the last year or so, mainly based on reviews. The one problem with that--I had never driven one.

You see, I was planning to order one for european delivery this Fall, a 328i. My wife and I were planning a trip to Europe anyway to visit some friends in Poland and some in the south of France; and I like the idea of a free(ish) rental car.

So, I went to the local BMW dealer yesterday and drove a 330i. I'm not exactly sure why we drove the 330i instead of the 325i, but the salesperson took 5 minutes to find the keys so I didn't mind--it had the sport package. I was underwhelmed. It was slow, and it seemed a bit vague around corners. Hmm. It was ok, but it was an automatic. They didn't have a single manual, so I'm hoping that the reason I was underwhelmed was solely the transmission.

I should back up a step though--right before driving the 3-series, I drove a Volkswagen GTI, again automatic. It was a blast to drive. In fact, the transmission even blips the throttle when it downshifts. Would I buy an automatic--no. When hammering around corners, it just can't know what you're doing, so it lags. That's the reason I drove the 330i in automatic, since I had driven the GTI in the automatic. Which is more fun to drive?--the GTI, hands down. The only problem is that they don't have European delivery for the VW.

I recently drove a friend's Audi S4 automatic. I know it has more horsepower than the BMW, but it was also fairly sluggish. Again, it was an automatic, so that may be the problem. That car had all kinds of "save you from yourself" computer-controlled safeguards, so maybe that was the problem.

Am I missing something? The BMW is fun to drive, right? It must have been the transmission, I'm guessing. But the suspension didn't impress me either. This car had the sport package but seemed to wallow in the corners compared to the GTI. Body roll, vagueness, all there in the BMW--not so in the VW.

The BMW is supposed to replace my wife's VW Jetta and now I'm not sure if that's what we should do. If I take her down there and she comes to the same conclusion, we may soon have another VW in our family (and we'll be driving a Punto through Europe this Fall). Help!?

Was anyone else underwhelmed with the BMW automatic? I really need to drive the manual, as I would only buy the manual--they're difficult to find . . . grrr.

--Kevin
Sonoma County, CA
'04 Honda Element
'04 Boxer Cup
 

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No, not anymore. The GTI and the Rabbit now come from Germany. The only cars coming from MX are the Beetle and the Jetta.

adgrant said:
Perhaps because they build most of them in Mexico.
 

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Well, admitedly, even a 330i w/SP (on 18" rims) is very isolated compared to many cars out there. The car is extremely competent. But it's so competent that it actually takes some of the fun away. Driving at anything enar legal speeds, you'll never begin to approach the limits of the E90's capabilities. Which can be rather boring.

So I can understand. I appreciate the entire package that is my E90 330i SP 6-spd. But if I was strictly looking for something fun to drive, I would have bought something else.
 

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Don't be so quick to discount the GTI. I've driven it, and although it's not a BMW, it competes very well against the Mini. It's a very good car for the money.

xspeedy said:
I suspect you either don't know how to drive a car, or you didn't push the car much. Or you just don't appreciate proper handling. Nothing that is practical and in the same league can touch a BMW.
 

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Anyone who considers the 330i or the S4 sluggish is coming from the Ferrari or Porsche camp or doesnt know how to drive a car. As for the suspension being underwhelmed i agree with the commit from xspeedy:

xspeedy said:
I suspect you either don't know how to drive a car, or you didn't push the car much. Or you just don't appreciate proper handling. Nothing that is practical and in the same league can touch a BMW.
Hell, I've heard some Porsche owners who have driven a BMW 3 series and later commenting things like "nimble, feels great" and "handles well". That carrys lots of weight when coming from Porsche drivers in my book.
 

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Robert A said:
Don't be so quick to discount the GTI. I've driven it, and although it's not a BMW, it competes very well against the Mini. It's a very good car for the money.
But the GTI doesn't have any steering feedack. It is totally numb, much like an arcade game.
 
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